Photo: David Lawrence / World Bank Group
One September afternoon, my boss, Pankaj Gupta, popped his head into my office. He had some ideas about how the novel use of guarantees might help solve a type of problem we had not faced before. The Energy and Extractives Global Practice had received a request from Ukraine. The problem was the country was heading into the 2014/15 winter with a large gas shortfall.
These were not easy times for Ukraine, which was in the throes of armed conflict on its Eastern border. With an economy in turmoil, the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's, had dropped Ukraine's credit rating two notches in the last year. The rating now languished at CCC, or very speculative and non-investment grade. This made finance, the life-blood of service delivery, difficult to access and expensive.
Зі 173 країн, які взяли участь у дослідженні під назвою Women, Business and the Law («Жінки, підприємництво і право»), близько 100 мають обмеження для не вагітних жінок та тих, що не годують, у виборі такої ж економічної діяльності, якою займаються чоловіки. Ці країни включають в себе досить багато країн колишнього Радянського Союзу, які, попри гендерно-нейтральні правові рамки, накладають такі правові обмеження, як заборона на працевлаштування жінок у певних галузях економіки та/або на роботу вночі.
Of the 173 economies surveyed by Women, Business and the Law, about 100 economies restrict non-pregnant and non-nursing women from pursuing the same economic activities as men. These countries include quite a handful of economies of the former Soviet Union, which, despite their largely gender neutral legal framework, impose legal restrictions on women’s work, such as prohibitions on working in certain industries and/or working at night.
A new report on mental health in Ukraine offers a sobering picture of the often-ignored disease burden of mental disorders, which undermine human capital development and total wealth accumulation in a country. The World Bank Group estimates show that unaccounted “intangible capital” such as human capital, constitutes the largest share of wealth in virtually all countries, more than produced capital and natural resources.
Welcome to the “10 Candid Career Questions” series, introducing you to the infrastructure and PPP professionals who do the deals, analyze the data, and strategize on the next big thing. Each of them followed a different path into infra and/or PPP practice, and this series offers an inside look at their backgrounds, motivations, and choices. Each blogger receives the same 15 questions and answers 10 or more that tell their career story candidly and without jargon. We believe you’ll be as surprised and inspired as we were. For examples of other entries on the IPG blog, click here.
It’s not always easy to convince the private sector to participate in public infrastructure projects—especially in developing countries and emerging economies. Why is this a problem? Because there simply is not enough public money to meet the growing demand for infrastructure, which is a key element of development and poverty alleviation. The need is great, numbering in the trillions of dollars.
But there is good news—the market has both the trillions and the expertise to use it, if the conditions are right. And the World Bank Group has a number of instruments that can help create an environment that meets the needs of the private sector in financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable ways. Guarantees are one of those instruments, a tool that is highly effective in leveraging limited resources for mobilizing commercial financing for critical infrastructure projects.
Advocacy around open government reforms to date has largely revolved around the intrinsic value of transparency, accountability, and participation. In a resource-constrained environment, development practitioners, policy makers, and citizens increasingly have to be more judicious. Adopting new methods or tools – such as open contracting mechanisms, open data dashboards and participatory budgeting – is not free.
Ukraine is not a newcomer to the world of science and technology. One positive legacy from the country’s Soviet history is a talented and technically qualified workforce that persists even today. Eighty percent of 19-25 year-old Ukrainians are enrolled in universities, the country has one of the largest pools of IT developers and programmers in the world – 90,000 strong – and its high-skilled diaspora has spread through Europe and North America. As a result, the country has a booming ICT sector, estimated at $2.5 billion in exports in 2015, and is home to globally competitive startups such as Looksery, which was bought by Snapchat for $150 million in 2015, PetCube, and others. On the surface, the country has the ingredients and the potential to be an innovation-driven economy.
As the world is increasingly interconnected, international taxation – traditionally more of a niche issue for tax lawyers – is receiving more and more attention in wider discussions on economic development: Double tax treaties, or agreements that two countries sign with one another to prevent multinational corporations or individuals from being taxed twice, have become more common, with more than 3,000 in effect today. And while they may contribute to investment, some have also become an instrument for aggressive tax planning.
Photo: Roberto Maldeno | Flickr Creative Commons
Infrastructure in Ukraine, Europe’s largest country, is extremely underdeveloped. Without significant investment, it cannot support the existing or future needs of our economy or population. The reasons are many: decades of mismanagement under Soviet rule, economic crisis, and more recently, the conflict in the Donbass. Given that these constraints go beyond a simple lack of funding, our government is partnering with the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF), as well as other international partners such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank.