Deregulation and the SDGs in Ukraine

December 8, 2021

Opening address by Manal Fouani, Deputy Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme, 8 December 2021

Your excellencies, esteemed government and parliamentarian representatives, dear colleagues,

Thank you for participating in this timely and important discussion on possible changes in the approach to deregulation in Ukraine.  Although the process slowed down during this COVID time, Ukraine has been serious about deregulation. In the 2020 Voluntary National Review report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the Government of Ukraine declared that in order to ensure progress in SDG achievement, “it is necessary to expedite implementation of reforms on deregulation, decentralization, tax and judicial reforms.”

Ukraine launched its ambitious deregulation reform process in early 2015, when the Cabinet of Ministers adopted Resolution 42, ‘On Some Issues of Business Deregulation’.  The plan was to deregulate business activities, bring Ukrainian legislation in line with the EU legislation, and achieve the TOP 30 ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business report, with the ultimate goal of attracting more foreign and domestic investments into the economy. Ukraine’s National Economic Strategy 2030, adopted earlier this year, further advances these goals with concrete initiatives designed to ensure economic growth and improved livelihoods for all Ukrainians.

We at UNDP have been working closely with the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and experts from the Centre for Economic Recovery to implement the country’s National Economic Strategy 2030.  We have been reviewing the approach and results of the deregulation processes, while assessing Ukraine's past performance and identifying key challenges and bottlenecks.

The process launched in 2015 was recently affected, but fortunately not derailed, by the COVID19 pandemic and the measures taken to soften the impact.  The primary focus of public policy officials understandably shifted towards addressing the adverse socio-economic consequences of the lockdowns because of COVID.  While this is of critical importance, of course, let us not lose sight of the deregulation process, which in and of itself contains many of the seeds needed for long-term and sustained economic growth.

It is well-known that small businesses create employment and lift people out of poverty. Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises employ for more than 7 million people in Ukraine.  At only 17 percent of the population, this figure is but a shadow of the true potential of how the private sector can contribute to the SDGs. That is why the Government of Ukraine has been increasing its efforts to undertake economic reforms, create a business-enabling environment for enterprises, and strengthen MSMEs' position in the economy.

That is also why UNDP has been working hard to strengthen and support Business Membership Organizations and facilitating a constructive and open dialogue between the business community and the state about barriers and challenges in doing business in Ukraine.

UNDP has a long history in Ukraine, supporting all levels of government, businesses and the oversight institutions and organizations. We also actively support the development of a vibrant and inclusive private sector by assisting with skills development, market analyses and resilience work. With this experience and drawing on our global network of offices in more than 170 countries, we intend to continue working with all our partners in the private and public sectors in Ukraine to further support to the implementation of the National Economic Strategy 2030.  We strongly believe this will lead to inclusive growth and the achievement of the SDGs, with no one left behind.