- How do you assess the appointment of Leszek Balcerowicz to the post of President Poroshenko’s representative to the Government, and whether Ukraine in the current political situation will be able to implement “shock therapy” reforms?
With this appointment, the Ukrainian authorities are sending a strong signal to the international community that they are committed to continuing economic and political reforms as well as to approximate the country’s regulatory and political framework to what exists in democratic and free-market economies. Yet we cannot disregard the fact that Ukraine is in a state of war, which at the very outset places the country a much more difficult starting point than was the case for Central and Eastern European countries 25 years ago. This is an important constraint for the Ukrainian authorities. Here, gradual yet continuous reforms, taking account of the social context, should bring good results.
- What should be the short- and mid-term priorities of the new government?
Ukraine has already made some progress in carrying out deep structural reforms. First and foremost, it managed to stabilize its budget deficit. Clearly further reforms are needed to improve public finances and make them more transparent. The new government faces a very important mission of renewing cooperation with the International Monetary Fund.
There are also positive changes in the judicial system reform. I hope that a transformation of the prosecution system and courts will be finalized already in the near future. This is of key importance in Ukraine’s fight against corruption. The Ukrainian civil society and media are efficient in shading light on corruption cased. The reformed courts will secure that the responsible will be brought to justice.
Ukraine also needs more smart – and responsible – deregulation and cutting red tape in order to encourage investment and improve business climate.
The 2015 was a breakthrough year in reforming Ukraine’s energy sector and bringing it in line with its obligations as a member of the European Energy Community. In 2016, these reforms should concentrate on improving energy efficiency as well as on ensuring that gas and electricity prices reflect the market reality. A new approach to subsidizing the individual consumers should be found.
Jerzy BUZEK, former Prime Minister of Poland (1997-2001). Since 2004 Member of European Parliament. He was the first elected President of the European Parliament (2009-2012) from the former Soviet bloc.