Archive for January 9th, 2010

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Ukraine Ranks 68th Best Place To Live……Apparently

January 9, 2010

Ukraine ranks 68th in International Living magazine’s list of best places worldwide to live.  International Living’s study has considered cost of living, level of culture, economic indicators, environmental conditions, freedom of speech, health care protection, infrastructures, security and climate conditions.

The maximum point per each criterion is 100.

France has grabbed No. 1 spot in the list with 82 points.  Then come Australia, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, Luxemburg, the USA, Belgium, Canada and Italy.

Ukraine ranks 68th with 62 points.

Moldova, 65 points, has appeared to be the country of the highest standard of living among post-Soviet countries (except for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), then comes Georgia, and Armenia with 56 points each, Belarus and Russia, 54 points each, according to International Living.

Well dear readers, let us not dwell in the Moldova issue being rated as a higher standard of living than Ukraine……despite being the poorest nation in Europe (geographically  speaking), or the fact that far more Moldovans work in Ukraine and Russia to earn enough money to send back to their families in Moldova…….at far lower pay rates that the Russians and Ukrainians themselves……..one sometimes wonders how these statistics are created……let us concertrate on Ukraine……as that it why you read my verbal garbabage after all.

Let us not dwell on how these statistics were arrived at and on what actually definies a “standard of living” for the premise of this article…….the parameters stated are far too broad, so let us look at them individually……

 

Economic Indicators

Let us not wonder why Ukraine is ranked 68 in the list of nations on the “standard of living”  chart, when it ranks as follows from 183 countries according to the World Bank:

Starting a business:  142nd out of 183 countries

Construction permits:  134th out of 183 countries

Ease of employing workers:  83rd out of 183 countries

Registering Property:  141st out of 183 countries

Getting Credit:  30th out of 183 countries

Protecting Investors:  109 out of 183 countries

Collecting Taxes:  181st out of 183 countries

Ease of Border Trade:  139th out of 183 countries

Enforcing Contracts:  43rd out of 183 countries

Closing a business:  145th out of 183 countries

This, generally would be brilliant if 183 was the best if could get…….but sadly being No1 is the best.

So, one has to ask who was asked to respond to the survey saying Ukraine was the 68th best country to live in…….when there is only one score, according to the World Bank, in which Ukraine comes in above 68  in anything……..and that is getting credit!

If the standard of living is measured by how easy it is to open a business, employ people, pay them, correct taxes paid and then close a business if it fails………Ukraine would be about 164th and not 68th.

In fact the World Bank puts Ukraine at 142nd for “Ease of Doing Business”…….see for yourself…..

http://www.doingbusiness.org/ExploreEconomies/?economyid=194

So if it is so damned hard to do anything here…….and believe me it can be……..then how come the standard of living is so high on a global scale?

Was it rated against an underinvested and rotting old Soviet infrastructure……which if it was not for the 2012 football would still be rotting.  As it is now, only certain small parts will get any improvement.

Was it based on the fact that nobody pays taxes and therefore everyone is happy?

Could it have been based upon the fact the majority of people have a roof over their heads?……Even if it is falling in on them…….but 3 generation are living under that roof space…….which is an incredibly small roof space.

Maybe it is based on the relic of an administration system which is a hangover from the USSR requiring 3 individuals to do the work of one?

Is it possible it is down to the transparent and legitimate legal system and law enforcement bodies?…….No I didn’t think that coming in at the 118th most corrupt nation on earth would have helped reached 64th place in the best places to live either!

http://www.heritage.org/Index/Country/Ukraine

 

Environmental Conditions

Well being slightly bigger than France with a poplualtion of only 46 million people, mostly croweded into the 5 major cities and a few others……there is a lot of open arable land, a large amount of woodlands and very pretty scenary……..except…….

As nothing has changed regarding the industrialised nature of Ukraine since the collapse of the USSR, steel mills, coal mines, ore mines, chemical factories and plastics factories still dump direct into rivers, streams and the sea without any form of cleaning whatsoever.  Carbon capture, CHP plants and environmental planning are things other nations do.

We will for get Chernobyl from the equation completely……despite being a man made environmental hazard which is still being covered in a new concrete sarcophagus……mostly thanks to EU money.

Places like Mariopol have horrendous air quality, around the mills and mines of Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk are little better……..so the environment is a very subjective matter depending on whether you live in the East or the West of Ukraine.

Will will not touch on the leaking toxic waste found in abandoned factories and warehouses from the collapse of the USSR which are still in situ and still leaking into the watercourses from Kyiv to Odessa, Lugansk to Lviv.

 

Freedom of Speech

Another subjective issue.  According to the official global monitors of such things, then yes there is freedon of speech……because the official monitors of such things do not grade the level of freedom of speech……it is either free or it is not.

It is therefore free.

 

Cost of Living

Another very difficult thing define.  to buy an old apartment in Kyiv can cost $750,000 in a good place………or you can buy an outhouse in the middle of nowhere for $10,000……of course that $10,000 does not give you mains water, electricity or gas……..and of course you crap in a hole……..so it has to be a deep hole…….as you don’t want it overflowing after a year or two of moving into your “do it upper”.

The tax system is a joke so hardly anyone pays what they should……offsetting the cost of living.  gas and electricity are extremely heavily subsidised and despite an increase of 50% over the past 12 months is still way cheaper than the UK.

Petrol is a fraction of the price of the UK…..but cars cost the same to buy.

Some foods are cheaper and others more expensive.

Public transport is extremely cheap at 20 – 30 pence for a bus journey across the city…….but then the buses are held together with tape and string and it is a little like a ride through New Delhi…….or a continual attempt to break the world record for “How many Ukrainians can you fit into a Ford Transit”.  Sadly not everywhere is blessed with an underground rail system like Kyiv.

The average wage across the nation is UAH 1950 per month according to the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine in October 2009.  That is a massive £200 per month folks………bloody long way from your $750,000 apartment in central Kyiv……..it is 5 years of saving every single kopek and spending nothing, just to buy your outhouse in the middle of nowhere without any ultilities!

November 27, 2009 at 11:13 | Interfax-Ukraine Actual year-on-year wages in Ukraine fell in October 2009 by 10.9%, while in October 2008 it grew by 4.8% year-over-year, the State Statistics Committee has reported.

 

Level of Culture

This I will grant as a given.  The level of culture……..be it Russian, Ukrainian, Kossack, Polish, Jewish, Islamic, Tartar, Bulgarian, Armenian, Turkish, Greek……….and any others I have missed in the melting pot of Ukraine……..is extremely high.

 

Health Care Protection

Exists.  The doctors and nurses on the whole are excellent……..as well as dentists and vets………however, the vast majority of the “western world”…….unless unconscious and about to “croak it”………would hop of the trolley they were being wheeled in on and run to their lives……..such is the conditions of the actual hospitals. 

Broken windows, if you need an injection you by the needle, syringe and drug from the chemist around the corner before going to the hospital…….who will then do what is medically necessary.

The pay for the staff is so low they would be better off signing on as unemployed in the UK……..to the point where many people will leave the Doctors money!

Ambulances can be either very well equipped……..or a Ford Transit with a blue light taped to the roof.

 

Infrastructures

It depends on which we are speaking of.  Hard assets or social?  If it were not for Ukraine managing to politically obtain Euro 2012 football with Poland then there is little doubt that no new roads or even exisiting roads between cities would have seen any spending on them.  The football tournament has at least offered a glimmer of hope that Kyiv, Donetsk, Kharkov and Lviv will have better roads, a few new hotels and maybe even new tarmac on the city runways.

Social infrastructure by way of courts, police, regional and governmental administrations remains as corrupt if not more corrupt than ever.  Everything works on who you know, not what you know or what you did.

 

Security

Personal or State?  Aside from the odd pick-pocket or cash machine scam, it is fairly safe here……..unless you are stupid enough to run around nightclubs with a fist full of dollars on display……….that is the tourists taken care of.

If you are a “mover and shaker” and manage to stand on somebody’s toes…….life takes on a very different security threat.  Last year in Odessa alone, there were 3 politically/big business orientated murders of high profile people and two unsuccessful attempts.

As for the State…….at present it is fairly secure and unlikely to see tanks from the Kremlin rolling down the streets any time soon……..or from the West either for that matter.

 

Climate Conditions

Varies depending upon where you are in Ukraine and the season but Ukraine has a climate to suit everyone……unless you like rain……..as it really doesn’t rain much…….certainly in Odessa.  Odessa for example, recently went through snow and -20 degrees for a few days not so long ago.  In the summer it pushed +40 last year.  Make of it what you will.

 

The probable reason for Ukraine coming in 68th is a crossed telephone line to a drunken and high Ukrainian with a smattering of English who repeatedly kept saying “Oh yeh, it’s great man”…….or the poll was conducted with only those people who live in Kyiv who benefit from far greater facilitie than the rest of Ukraine……..or it was manipulated by the Ukrainian elite……..like every other poll or statistic here…….and the latter is far more likely!

Still, I love it here!

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