Ukrposhta is taking a big step toward becoming a postal bank by partnering with First Ukrainian International Bank to offer financial services at post offices. Igor Smelyanski, acting CEO of the state postal service, says he will concentrate on villages without bank branches. He says 80% of Ukrposhta’s 11,700 post offices are in villages with less than 2,000 people. To start, Ukrposhta will offer rural banking in Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskiy, Kirovograd, Lviv, Sumy and Volyn and Kirovograd regions. The ultimate owner of the bank, known as FUIB, is Rinat Akhmetov.
The number of money losing banks will fall below 10 this year, Vitaliy Vavryshchuk, a National Bank of Ukraine official predicts to reporters. As the bank cleanup continues, the number has fallen regularly – from 33 in 2016 to 18 last year.
Over the next five years, the Finance Ministry wants to cut the state share of Ukraine’s banking sector from 55% today to 24%. “Ukrgasbank and PrivatBank should be fully sold in 2020 and 2022 respectively," Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk said at a government meeting Wednesday. To start, the government plans to sell this summer 20% of its shares two state-owned banks - Oshchadbank and Ukreximbank. Danylyuk added: “Before the end of 2019, we plan to create conditions for attracting minority shareholders - international financial organizations like the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), respectively, in Oschadbank and Ukreximbank." Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: “The key issue for state banks at the moment is non performing loans, and a lot has yet to be done to enable them to resolve this issue.”
The Rada may vote to approve the nominee for central bank governor next Thursday, parliamentary Speaker Andriy Parubiy told Interfax. The last governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Valeria Gontareva, resigned last April. In January, President Poroshenko nominated acting central bank chief Yakiv Smoliy to be governor on a permanent basis.
Ukraine lost momentum in fighting corruption last year, rising only one position on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, compared to two positions in 2016. Overall, Ukraine ranks 130 out of 180 countries. The survey authors wrote: “Ukraine’s slow growth in the index, in which its growth dynamics were effectively reduced by half, is due to such factors as the government’s lack of political will to engage in a decisive fight against corruption, as well as the low level of public trust in Ukraine’s courts and prosecutors.” Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “These reports only buttress the argument for the creation of the High Anti-Corruption Court, as being required by the IMF.”
John Sullivan, US Deputy Secretary of State, said in Kyiv Wednesday that economic development depends on reform. “Deeper reforms are needed to lift the economy over the long-term,” he said in a speech at the Diplomatic Academy. “And comprehensive judicial and law enforcement reform, which Ukraine has embarked on is the key.” He cited the need for an independent Anti-Corruption Court, adding: “The Prime Minister just told me about a package of over 30 new draft laws that he expects will improve the business environment once implemented.”
Since annexation, Russia has illegally extracted 7.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Crimea and surrounding waters, Svetlana Neshnova, board chair of Chernomornaftogaz, a subsidiary Naftogaz, tells Hromadske TV. About half-- 3.5 billion cubic meters – was from the Odesa gas field. Naftogaz calculates its six subsidiaries lost $5 billion in equipment and resources in the 2014 annexation. Represented by Covington & Burling law firm of New York, Naftogaz expects a decision this year in its suit against Russia in Permanent Court of Arbitration Court, at The Hague, Netherlands.
The Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry has refused to extend 64 oil and gas drilling permits for lack environmental impact statements. Interfax reports that Ukrnafta lost 27 permits and Ukrgazvydobuvannya lost 37.
Ukrainian corn producers will have an edge for March and April ship loadings due drought in Argentina which is damaging corn quality and delaying harvesting, Platts reports from London.
Ukraine's population decreased by 198,000 people last year, the State Statistics Service estimated on Wednesday. The official estimate is now 42.3 million people. Skeptics say it could easily be 10 to 15% below that number. The most recent census was carried out in 2001.
With road and railroads between Poland and Ukraine seeing unprecedented traffic, Poland’s Infrastructure Ministry plans to spend $12 million to rebuild 12km of track south from Przemysl, to restore a crossing between Malchovice, Poland and Nizhankovichi, Ukraine.
First drafts of a free trade agreement between Albania and Ukraine were exchanged Thursday in Kyiv by Ditmir Bushati, Albania’s Foreign Minister, and Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister. As Ukraine expands trade away from Russia, free trade agreements are to be signed this year with Israel and, possibly, with Turkey. Although bilateral trade is minimal, a Tirana-Kyiv flight is being studied by Ernest Airlines, a Milan-based airlines with flights to Albania and Ukraine.
DART Ukrainian Airlines wants to emerge from bankcruptcy as Alanna LLC. On Tuesday, Alanna will ask the State Aviation Service permission to resume DART’s routes to Albania, Georgia, Greece, Italy and Montenegro. It will ask for authority to open new routes to Helsinki, Stockholm and Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. With the same CEO as DART, Vyacheslav Lisichonok, Alanna wants to fly from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odesa.
A Ryanair corporate jet was spotted Wednesday night at Boryspil, prompting Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan to announce Thursday that high level “successful” discussions had taken place with executives of the Dublin-based discount airline. With 421 Boeings serving 205 cities, Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline by scheduled passengers flown. In 2016, it carried more international passengers than any other airline in the world.
Kyiv to Odesa in 30 minutes? Taking a tip from Elon Musk’s project to link New York and Washington by vacuum air train, Infrastructure Minister Omelyan announced Thursday that construction may start next year on a Hyperloop testing ground in Dnipro, Ukraine’s “rocket city.” This year, a feasibility study is to be done by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The Academy, Ukroboronprom, and Kherson’s Kakhovka Plant of Electric Welding Equipment are advising the Minister on the project company, Center for Transport Innovations Hype.ua.
UBJ.am is reported by UBJ Editor in Chief James Brooke, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Bloomberg Moscow bureau chief. For comments and story tips, Brooke is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org