Ukraine Has ‘Long Way to Go’ in Graft Fight, World Bank Says

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Ukraine must step up efforts to fight graft, even after improving its position by four places in the World Bank’s annual report on the business environment, the lender said.

“If one looks at the issue of corruption, Ukraine still has a long way to go,” Qimiao Fan, head of the World Bank’s Ukrainian office, told reporters Wednesday in Kiev.

Ukraine ranks 83, below Guatemala and Saudi Arabia, of 189 countries in the World Bank’s latest Doing Business survey, released this week. Its improvement from last year stemmed mainly from easing the process of business registration. Other criteria were largely unchanged, with a slight worsening in paying taxes and protecting minority investors.

President Petro Poroshenko, who came to power after anti-graft protesters toppled his predecessor, has suffered a dip in popularity as Ukrainians complain about delays in reform. Stamping out corruption is a key requirement for Ukraine to maintain the flow of cash from lenders and donors including the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. government.

Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius said Ukraine will target a top-50 berth in the World Bank survey within two years.

“We were in a swamp, but we’ve left the swamp and are moving in the right direction,” he told the same news conference. “Our government is committed to promote reforms actively.”

‘Very Indicative’

Poroshenko has pledged to accelerate reforms and efforts to stamp out corruption after the conclusion of local elections, which took place of Sunday. The coming quarters will reveal his administration’s commitment, according to BNP Paribas SA-owned Ukrsibbank.

“The next three to six months may be very indicative in terms of the government’s resolve to embark on structural reforms, especially as calls for early parliamentary elections are getting increasingly louder,” analysts Serhiy Yahnych and Yevgeniy Orudzhev said Wednesday in an e-mailed note. “Creditors are unlikely to tolerate any excessive sluggishness from Ukraine on its reform agenda, including anti-corruption practices.”

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