Ukraine badly needs a history of success of both a young state and its citizens. Moreover, it must be a success not of some corrupt individuals stealing state assets, but of millions of ordinary Ukrainians, who would have been able to provide for their families with their honest work.
We all need to break free of a miserable 24-year-standstill.
In 1990, Ukraine’s GDP was about $90 billion. Our economy at the time was similar to that of Greece, Iran and Thailand. At the same time, with $1,748 in terms of GDP per capita Ukraine was 106th.
Now, as long 25 years have passed, the country's economy, excluding its shadow part estimated at 47% has a $84 billion GDP (pessimists say, it’s $70 billion), with $1,964 GDP per capita (42.8 million people). This is at the same level as Uganda and the Solomon Islands, at the bottom of the list of the world's poorest states!
For example, neighboring Poland with 38 million people was actually behind Ukraine in economic terms 25 years ago. However, in 2015, it enjoys a nominal GDP of about $490 billion and $12.900 GDP per capita. Greece’s GDP amid deep economic crisis is projected at $240 billion by year end, while the struggling economy of Thailand is expected to see a $375 billion GDP.
Perhaps economists of the World Bank will use a different methodology to asses the Ukrainian economy, but the facts are relentless. We live in a poor country with a meager budget and poverty-stricken population.
While other nations have evolved, taking tough decisions, making and then correcting their mistakes on their way, we have degraded, remaining in a standstill, however embarrassing it would be to admit.
Why did this happen? I believe that most of our citizens, earning an honest living, will respond in a similar way: it is all caused by corruption, inefficient public administration system and misguided economic model.
Can Ukraine finally learn the lesson in the background of a bloody and costly war Russia has unleashed against us? Can we finally start moving forward?
Yes, it can! To do this, we need to address several priority issues:
- To accept the popular concept of zero tolerance to corruption. Not to give and not to take bribes, not to use authority for personal gain. To cleanse public offices, including the judiciary system, of all corruption-stained officials;
- To defy populism, upgrade the system of state and municipal power to minimize its interference in the economy;
- To change our raw materials-oriented economic model built on oligarchic capital; stimulate business development, entrepreneurship and creation of new jobs in all possible ways; develop the internal market, and those areas of the economy that will be essential in 20 - 50 years old: processing of agricultural products, IT, energy efficiency, and aeronautics;
- To invest in the reform of secondary and higher education, focusing on the real needs of tomorrow's market;
- To complete out an exemplary privatization of state assets, attracting global innovative leaders to the country's economy. Attracting foreign investment must be our major priority;
- To provide for a comfortable environment, repair damaged roads and replace corroded pipes.
These are the goals which should be looking for in political agendas of political forces ahead of the upcoming local and parliamentary elections. We should not vote for populists who promise waiver on foreign currency debt and a 70% reduction of utility bills. We should not support infantile politicians, unable to take responsibility for the tough but vital decisions.
Finally, it's time to stop whining and complaining. We should roll up our sleeves and start working! We can’t improve our karma with mutual squabbles and pathetic cries "The end is near!" It’s time to create our own history of success.