Saturday, May 30, 2009
This was an interesting trip. The place has changed so much since I was here between 1994 and 1997 that it is almost unrecognizable. It is not so much the modernity of the place - almost any country can build modern, glossy buildings. It is what has changed within the working levels of the government.
No longer are old, grey men running some of the key ministries. The men - and women - in charge at the Ministry of Economic Development for example are young (late 20s to early 40s), very sharp and very focused. Years ago, their predecessors were more interested in drinking vodka and throwing late night parties than in actually accomplishing anything that would benefit the country. I am truly pleasantly surprised at the calibre of the people running things. They don't need the help of people like me and the only reason we are here, I think, is to put the Bank's name (and some funding) behind the programs. They design, implement and aggressively complete their projects - and most of the work is very, very hard.
In general, for the person on the street, times are getting very tough. The economy is truly collapsing and many, many people are out of work. Salaries have been cut and the job market is shrinking. Some are even talking about going somewhere else - Europe or the US. Except it is hardly any better there.
Back to Kyiv in the morning.