5 steps made by Zelenskyi in port industry inspiring optimism
Ihor Hoshovskyi, Editor-in-Chief of ports.com.ua
03 September 2019
The first thing to note: only four months have passed, and the President’s policy regarding port industry in strategic aspects has already been clearly outlined. However, there is also a wake-up call.
The policy is fully consistent with the libertarian doctrine and switches on the ‘green’ light for private initiatives and private sector capital. Even more interesting fact is that the new Prime Minister on the very first day after the appointment expressed his desire to privatize locomotive rolling stock in favour of UZ. The one-party majority in the Rada adds credibility to all this. On the other hand, this is still only a statement. However, there are a few specific steps worth mentioning.
State Environmental Inspectorate
The President has developed a clear understanding that the State Environmental Inspectorate and the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety are included in list of the most corruptive public authorities in respect of business. He expressly stated about it on September 2. Zelenskyi ordered the new Minister of Infrastructure to reboot these departments until January 1, 2020. It is also worth noting the President’s prompt reaction to the abuse of power of environmentalists in the ports and successful joint actions with Groisman to neutralize this abuse undertaken in July.
The Cabinet of Ministers at a meeting on 14 August decided to announce tender for concession of property of the state stevedores ‘Olvia’, and ‘Kherson Sea Trade Port (KSTP)’. After making this decision, Volodymyr Omelian reminded that work on the transfer of infrastructure facilities to concession has been ongoing since 2015. The new President fully supported the strategic course on transferring state stevedores to concessions and asked the new minister to speed up the process. Zelenskyi ordered him to transfer property of the state enterprises to the concession by the end of 2019. Zelenskyi also announced that the new Verkhovna Rada will adopt a law on concessions in the fall.
Law on Inland Water Transport
Zelenskyi also ordered management of the Verkhovna Rada to adopt a law on inland water transport by November 1, 2019. It is not clear yet which bill will be supported by the majority. But, considering the fact that the Nibulon lobby in this convocation looks less impressive than before, the chances of passing the government bill increase.
Entry to the territory of Odesa Sea Port
In July, Zelenskyi addressed to the mayor of Odessa, Hennadii Trukhanov, to resolve urgently the issue regarding provision of a land plot for arranging cost-free entry to the territory of Odesa Sea Port. ‘It is necessary to find an opportunity to remedy the problem of providing a land plot to Odesa Sea Port to arrange access to the port for business which could be used for free’, Zelenskyi stated during his visit to Odessa. The matter is that currently there is only one large access way to the port belonging to a private structure. The President considers this situation unacceptable and emphasizes that it creates a monopoly affecting a large number of entrepreneurs.
However, there is an alarm bell as well. The main reason for ineffective operation of the MIU in the aspect of fight against corruption schemes and extortions was that this agency fell under the influence of security agencies and played the role of a feeding trough for them.
Appointment of Vladyslav Kryklii to the post of Minister, who came from the police, alarmed those who expected an increased activity of the MIU in the fight against corruption. Nevertheless, for Kryklii himself, as a new person, there are no complaints so far. However, the high probability that Lavreniuk, another ‘policeman’, would retain the post of first deputy alarmed the whole port community.
If the President blocks attempts to remain Lavreniuk as ‘a curator of the feeding trough’, it will be Zelenskyi’s fifth strong move. We will give him credit for it in advance.