Infrastructure is a powerful tool to change Ukraine, to build a new country, Volodymyr Omelyan
“Infrastructure is a powerful tool to change Ukraine, to build a new country,” Volodymyr Omelyan, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, stated during the panel discussion "Identifying and Removing Barriers to Investment in Ukraine", which was co-hosted by the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council in Washington, during Volodymyr Omelyan’s visit to the United States.
"We open doors for the world's largest investors, which is not easy in view of the Russian aggression. Ukraine is fighting against Russian invaders every day. However, the battlefield comprises only 4% of the Ukrainian lands. The rest of Ukraine is booming – in economic, infrastructure, and social terms. I can give you an example of Lviv region where sixty small and medium-scale enterprises have been established lately, including due to foreign investors. Today, Ukraine is in the limelight for investors, which includes transport and infrastructure sphere,” Volodymyr Omelyan emphasized.
According to the Minister, one of the most important steps taken by the Ministry of Infrastructure was to reduce the state's impact on business: "First of all, we have removed to the utmost extent bureaucracy from all fields of interaction with business where possible. A positive result in aviation was then immediately received. In 2016, the passenger flow increased by 30%, and in 2017, it is expected to increase by 50%. Ryanair is entering Ukraine. And I believe that the launch of this airline will foster competition in the Ukrainian air service market."
According to the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, reforming of the Ukrainian Railways has failed. "The Ukrainian Railways is a success and a failure, at the same time. It is a success because we have managed to change the approach to the appointment of management at strategic state-owned enterprises; it is a failure because the current management have done nothing at Ukrzaliznytsia. However, such investors as General Electric, Greenbrier International, Bombardier, and Siemens have expressed their interest and readiness to enter Ukraine and to work closely in the railway industry. Such cooperation is promising for Ukraine."
As regards the maritime industry, the entrance of the world’s largest port operators DP World and Hutchison Ports will be significant for Ukraine, according to Volodymyr Omelyan.
"We are also fundamentally rebuilding the road infrastructure in Ukraine and changing its philosophy. We have established the Road Fund, are decentralizing Ukravtodor and introducing an independent road quality control and weight control, which has never been the case in Ukraine before. We are restoring Ukrainian roads, on which the Government has focused considerably. Ukrposhta is also developing rapidly. This is indeed the case where the new management have fully met our expectations.” the Minister of Infrastructure said.
"The Ministry has corporatized two large state companies, Ukrzaliznytsia and Ukrposhta. USPA, ports and airports are the next," Volodymyr Omelyan said.
"My personal believe as the Minister is that we should do everything possible to reduce the Government’s involvement in the business and its daily life. We do this through IT services, digital infrastructure, and new technologies. I really look forward to big companies entering the Ukrainian market because this will change Ukraine fundamentally," Volodymyr Omelyan said.
Also, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine met with representatives of Greenbrier International. Volodymyr Omelyan expressed interest in the company’s presence in the Ukrainian market. The parties agreed that by the end of August, the technical mission of Greenbrier International would arrive to Ukraine to explore cooperation opportunities.
The Minister Volodymyr Omelyan also met with Stephen Nix, the Regional Director of the International Republican Institute (IRI). The parties discussed the political situation in Ukraine, the Russian aggression on the East of Ukraine, and the opportunities for strengthening the Ukraine-US cooperation. Volodymyr Omelyan secured the support of the IRI as to involvement of American experts in elaborating a strategy on development of the infrastructure industry in Ukraine.