Ukraine made strides toward its future as a more democratic country in 2015. It swore in the first detectives to its National Anti-Corruption Bureau, launched deregulation in several sectors, such as agriculture and finance, and took steps to reform state-owned energy companies and reduced reliance on Russian oil and gas.
In a speech to Ukraine’s parliament on December 9th, Vice President Biden commended Ukraine’s significant progress. “But for Ukraine to continue to make progress and to keep the support of the international community,” Biden said, “you have to do more, as well.”
Before you can predict 2016 developments in Ukraine, review the recent major reforms:
Ukraine’s agricultural sector accounts for nearly 14 percent of the country’s GDP. In 2015, ag exports grew 6 percent from the year before. The government is making it easier for agribusinesses to operate, and farms are more productive. As part of its deregulation efforts, the government canceled 14 previously required permits and eliminated six licensing requirements for agribusinesses. In 2016, the government will continue deregulation and privatization and align safety and food standards with those of the European Union.
Ukrainians have made it clear that stopping corruption is very important. In response, the government established the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, appointed a former anti-corruption prosecutor as its new head, and swore in the bureau’s first detectives. The government also passed an open data law, giving the public easy access to information on property ownership, civil servant salaries and other previously secret data. Fighting corruption will remain a top priority in 2016.
The Ukrainian economy runs on natural gas, and historically half of that gas came from Russia. Ukraine is determined to reform its energy sector and decrease its reliance on Russia. In 2015, Ukraine’s parliament passed laws to reform Ukraine’s state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz and began reforming the subsidy system for consumers. In 2016, the government hopes to continue deregulation and to promote energy efficiency among the population through the new State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving.
4. Finance and investment
In line with the country’s International Monetary Fund deal, Ukraine’s parliamentpassed legislation to increase transparency in bank ownership, introduced new capital requirements for banks, and decreased regulation of investments by foreigners. The government also amended the tax code andstrengthened protections for creditors and consumers. In the summer of 2015, the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum highlighted ways the business and investment climate has improved in Ukraine and possible future reforms.
5. Law enforcement
One of the most successful reforms of 2015 was the introduction of the new patrol police in Kyiv and other cities. From the public vote on patrol-car designs to the transparent recruitment process and mandatory pledge by new officers to refuse bribes, the changes show a break from corrupt ways of the past. The new patrol police in Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv and Kharkiv received training from international trainers and have been well-received by the public. In 2016, Ukraine will further modernize its law-enforcement institutions.