Review of the week – Ukraine strengthens ties with US, World Bank allocates $ 200 million for education reform, inflation slows – UNIAN
During a visit to Kiev, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed with Ukrainian authorities the progress of reform and pledged aid to counter Russian aggression, the World Bank approved the allocation of 200 million dollars for the reform of Ukrainian higher education, while the State Statistics Service reports a slowdown in inflation – these are the main economic developments of the outgoing week.
Last weekend Ukraine celebrated Easter and Labor Day, with additional days off on Monday and Tuesday. And now the country is gradually returning to its regular pace of work.
Nevertheless, during this short working week i, a number of significant events took place for the country’s economy and its position on the geopolitical map of the world.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken paid a working visit to Kiev – on a first trip to the European continent for senior administration diplomat Joe Biden. A truly significant event …
The main objective of the talks with the Ukrainian authorities was to underscore the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the context of the ongoing Russian aggression.
On Thursday, May 6, the US Secretary of State held meetings with key officials. During his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky, support for Ukraine in the security and defense sector was discussed in detail.
Blinken said the issue was at the center of US concerns, adding that it had recently been discussed by NATO and G7 members. In this regard, Washington is actively studying the possibility of increasing cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of security, according to the head of US diplomacy.
The US Secretary of State did not rule out additional military assistance to Ukraine, adding that the matter was under consideration.
Since 2014, the United States has already allocated more than 4.6 billion dollars to Ukraine in assistance, including in the area of security.
Blinken and Zelensky also discussed issues related to corporate governance, transparency, integrity and independence of anti-corruption bodies, as well as judicial reform. These reforms are relevant, including for continued cooperation with the International Monetary Fund. President Zelensky reiterated the importance of maintaining such cooperation.
Higher education reform, cooperation with the IMF
Another positive news came from the World Bank, where funding of $ 200 million to Ukraine was approved, to modernize the higher education system and improve compliance with the needs of the modern labor market.
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Science within five years. It is assumed that during this period a modern digital infrastructure for distance education, as well as new teaching and research laboratories, will emerge. The plan also includes improving the automated higher education management system to enhance transparency in the sector.
“The World Bank is pleased to partner with Ukraine to modernize teaching and learning at universities in line with European standards to equip young Ukrainians with the skills they need for the 21st century,” said the press service, quoted by Arup Banerji, regional country of the World Bank. Director for Eastern Europe, as said.
Raising the educational level of Ukrainians will undoubtedly have a significant long-term effect, both economically and socially.
As for Ukraine’s main financial partner, the International Monetary Fund, its representatives reminded the Ukrainian government of the need to accelerate reforms. To receive the next tranche under the existing standby arrangement (totaling around $ 5 billion), Ukrainian authorities need to do more homework.
Ukraine needs more progress, according to IMF spokesman Gerry Rice, who stressed the need to actively promote judicial, banking and anti-corruption reforms.
At the same time, the Fund continues its dialogue with Kiev, calling the talks productive.
David Arakhamia, leader of the ruling parliamentary faction “Servant of the People”, said that by June 1, the Verkhovna Rada will have passed all necessary bills to ensure continued cooperation with the IMF.
These are, first of all, the bill on the criminal liability of civil servants for filing false data in property declarations and the bill amending the law on the National Anti-Corruption Office. The deputies also intend to amend the law on the National Bank to strengthen the independence of the regulator.
Stability of Hryvnia, slowing inflation
Photo by UNIAN
After the long May vacation and in the context of Blinken’s visit, Ukraine’s national currency remained relatively stable against the dollar.
At the start of the outgoing week, the official rate was 27.73 UAH / USD, while on the weekend the hryvnia was pegged at 27.72 UAH / USD.
On Friday, the National Statistics Service reported a slowdown in consumer inflation in April year on year, to 8.4% from 8.5% in March.
At the same time, compared with March, inflation fell by 0.7% (1.7% in March), while in the first four months of 2021, consumer prices in Ukraine increased by 4.8%.
The National Bank also reported that Ukraine’s international reserves in April rose 3.6 percent, equivalent to $ 28.001 billion as of May 1.
During the past week, the central bank also announced the growth of mortgage lending in the first quarter of 2021. According to the regulator, Ukrainian banks have issued more than 1,800 loans for real estate purchases with a total value of almost 1 , 4 billion UAH. In terms of the number of contracts, it is half the price of the first quarter of last year, and twice as much in monetary terms.
The NBU noted that the average amount of a mortgage continues to grow: up to 770,000 UAH in March against 742,000 UAH in February.
Pandemic developments and sowing campaign
The good news is that Ukraine has left the third wave of COVID-19 behind.
Since Saturday, May 8, there is not a single region left in the “red” quarantine zone.
Photo by UNIAN, Serhiy Chuzavkov
“We did. We tackled another wave of COVID-19, but the virus – not yet. Therefore, it is now very important not to slack off, but to continue to abide by the anti rules. -epidemic, “said Minister of Health Maksym Stepanov.
Today, around 32,000 patients are receiving COVID-19 treatment in hospitals, while the hospital burden in most areas does not exceed 50%.
Meanwhile, with the onset of the spring heat, Ukrainian farmers have stepped up their field work, previously delayed in some areas due to overnight frosts.
Photo by UNIAN
By the first days of May, farmers finished planting spring wheat, barley, rye, oats and sugar beets. Corn has yet to be planted in more than half of the planned area. It remains one of the main export crops, generating the lion’s share of foreign exchange earnings in the structure of grain exports.
The weather for the next week promises to be warm, with moderate rainfall – up to 10-20mm per week – which will contribute to successful planting and crop maturation.
If the weather remains favorable, the Ukrainian Grain Association suggests this year’s cereal harvest could become one of the best in history – over 96 tonnes of grains and oilseeds compared to 84 tonnes in 2020.
The next working week will also be short in Ukraine – Monday May 10 is a day off due to the celebration of the victory over Nazism in WWII on Saturday May 8.
The remaining four working days will not be too busy with economic news. The State Statistics Service will report on exports of Ukrainian products, while the government will meet for the first meeting in the past two weeks.
The Health Ministry urges Ukrainians to adhere to anti-epidemic rules, especially during commemoration days and Victory Day celebrations, to observe social distancing and to wear face masks. So far, vaccination in Ukraine is proceeding very slowly, so it is in the hands of people to do everything to prevent the fourth wave of the coronavirus.
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