Archive for the ‘consultancy’ Category


One side of the conversation – Odessa reforms

July 7, 2015

Unusually for this blog, one side of a conversation held with a visiting diplomatic corps is going to be summarised for public consumption, rather than the usual carefully selected parts that are always subjected to the Chatham House Rule, if anything that is said is mentioned at all.

The side of the conversation is that of your author, and naturally not the side of the diplomats in question.

The very first point made was the timescale in which Governor Saakashvili has to made a significant impact – rather than the (although not meaningless) public shafting of, or sacking of officials and/or departments to the point of disbanding them.  Individually and accumulatively such things do have an impact on the public psyche – but the public of Odessa are expectant of change that they will see and feel rather than watching what can be interpreted as “show dismissals” on TV and YouTube.

This notwithstanding the dubious legality of some of the dismissals.

If the Governor has a policy of meeting ends regardless of means, rather than creating legitimate means to reach sustainable ends, then his reform process will be one that is based on the premise of keep going and let the rule of law try and catch up!  Sustainable ends are only ever reached by legitimate means, and it is questionable just how legitimate some of the current means are.  Justification is not interchangeable with legitimacy.

The timescale offered was 6 months to create a meaningful change that will be noticed by society with personal impact for most.  If such a single issue is identified, dealt with thoroughly and transparently, and effecitvely delivered then it will buy him another 3 months of grace/continued goodwill to deliver a second such reform.  Thereafter the public pressure/expectency will become somewhat more manageable.

Various potential issues were discussed as well as the issues of timeliness for each – quite rightly if a nation is going to invest serious diplomatic and political energy, notwithstanding their taxpayers money, in supporting a specific regional reform.

Thus several “whats”, a few “who’s” and the “hows” were pondered with a good dose of “when”.  The final outcomes will become fairly clear fairly soon.  The problem diplomatically, of course, is just how closely does any nation want to be seen hugging somebody like Governor Saakashvili, vis a vis, if he doesn’t succeed and get the right level of visible support, then reforming Odessa will be set back by a decade at least if it doesn’t happen now.


Longer term projects that have to be dealt  as a priority regionally would be that of administrative structure.  Odessa Oblast is not and should not be the “Saakashvili Show”.  As has been previously written, the civil service and public administration must be competent and allowed to function without significant and unnecessary political meddling.  Structural reform is desperately needed.

Whilst when Winston Churchill slammed his fist on the table, and General Alanbrooke slammed his fist on the table in reply, Governor Saakashvili seems to be lacking a General Alanbrooke.  An “ideas man” requires a “structures man” who is capable of project managing numerous project managers and also influencing the “ideas man”.  Thus the long term and important projects will undoubtedly be interfered with unnecessarily, and project/policy delivery will suffer as a result.

Another long term project should be the ports/docks.  They are after all the economic centers of Odessa.  Customs e-clearance, porto fanco/free ports etc, and other such ideas have their pluses – but also their minuses.  Impact analysis not only upon economics but also criminality would be a sensible prerequisite, together with a review of the structures within the customs and borders agencies.  If customs procedures are to be relaxed under e-clearance and/or porto franco then intelligence led checks take primacy.  The Iran, Turkey, Odessa, Poland/EU corridor an obvious target of a few.

With Odessa next in line to get a newly minted “Police”, your author raised concerns that go much deeper than those comments recently made over a hopefully bright future for the new “Police” in Kyiv.

Quite simply Odessa is not Kyiv.  The extraordinary lengths that were went to in Kyiv over the recruitment of the new “Police” under the noses of the President, Cabinet of Ministers and foreign diplomats to Ukraine was highly unlikely to be anything less than scrupulous.

Odessa has a fairly large but generally weak and unnoticed diplomatic corps.  There is no President, Cabinet of Ministers or immensely influential diplomatic community to keep a watchful and ever-focused eye over the recruitment process.  That there will be (and are) “interests” in Odessa keen on hijacking or perverting the process from the very start at the recruitment phase should come as no surprise.

However much political time, diplomatic energy, and money was invested in the Kyiv Police, it would be wisely doubled for Odessa if “interests” are to be resolutely rebuffed and the desired outcomes from the very moment of the recruitment process are to be realised at graduation (and beyond).  Thereafter a consistently watchful eye will have to remain on those “interests” until any new force and its structure are robust enough to self-recruit and mentor new recruits and management can withstand consistent attempts at manipulation.

Those that any new “Police” service deal with are then subject to the notoriously corrupt courts in Odessa – thus it is important to distinguish between good policing and justice being done.

The usual issues of FDI, tourism etc were raised, and simply put a few examples of cheaply resolved  inaction were raised – the low hanging fruit such as proof-checked English from the administration for professional purposes is absent, as well as any media information from the administration in well structured English.

How to attract foreign interest when most of the planet doesn’t read Ukrainian or Russian, and can barely understand the garbled English that the administration puts out – when it puts any out at all?

With the massive amount of big-board advertising space, why is there not a single map with English names of streets with a “you are here” marker for tourists wandering about lost?  It costs nothing but makes tourist life a little easier.

Anyway, to dwell of the long list of “easy fixes” for tourism and FDI attraction that are currently not being fixed distracts from the major issues as foreseen and listed above by your author for the next 6 – 9 months, and that were conveyed to the visiting diplomatic corps of the day.

All of these issues should be at the top of the “Watch List” for both Governor Saakashvili and those that would support him.  It is quite possible that reform opportunity will lost for a decade or more depending upon actions (or inaction) by the year end.

The reactions and comments by those on the other side of this conversation, unfortunately dear readers, are not about to be revealed.


To Centrenergo or not to Centrenergo? – That is the question

June 24, 2015

That the Ukrainian government plans to privatise, and thus shift a lot of loss making, or subsidies taking, State controlled assets from the government books is no secret.

Amongst the headline ticket items for privatisation are assets (or liabilities) such as Odessa Port Side (cue oligarch’s Kolomoisky and Firtash), and Centrenergo.

Odessa Port Side is indeed worth buying.  It makes nitrogen fertilisers and has sales in US$ hundreds of millions.  If a Kolomoisky-Firtash show down occurs over what really is a decent asset, Ihor Kolomoisky would be favourite to win – this for two reasons.  Firstly because he has far better cash flow than Mr Firtash currently, and secondly due to his influence within Prime Minister Yatseniuk’s party which he backed heavily.  However, with this asset there is likely to be some foreign interest too, simply due to it being a very decent asset amongst what is otherwise a whole host of governmental liabilities going up for sale.

There is but one cloud in an otherwise blue sky surrounding the privatisation of Odessa Port Side.  That cloud relates to an on-going dispute between Odessa Port Side and РГК Трейдинга (RGK Traiding), a company owned by Dmitry Firtash, that for many years held the contract to supply Odessa Port Side with gas.  That contract ended just after his pursuit by the US for corruption began and thus his being marooned in Austria.

During those first months Odessa Port Side switched gas suppliers from Mr Firtash’s РГК Трейдинга (RGK Traiding) to the German company Eon.  РГК Трейдинга (RGK Traiding) subsequently submitted a claim for UAH 1.39 billion against Odessa Port Side relating to unpaid gas bills between April and June, to Odessa Regional Economic Court.  The actual debt for gas claimed is UAH 1.237 billion in relation to 217 million cubic meters of gas.  The remainder of the claim relating to to penalties incurred.  Odessa Port Side refutes those claims.  As yet it appears that this issue remains unsettled.

One naturally hopes that a foreign company would be successful over the Ukrainian oligarchy for reasons of internal and external messaging, and the limiting rather than expansion of the oligarchical power over the domestic economy.  There is far more to consider with privatisation than simply who will pay the most money, no differently to awarding a tender to a bidder cannot fail to consider far more than the price submitted.

With regard to Centrenergo, yesterday Prime Minsiter Yatseniuk stated “The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to involve an advisor in the privatization of power generating company PJSC Centrenergo.

Would that be a “Ukrainian advisor” or a reputable advisor?

Quite why Centrenergo is deserving of a “an advisor” whilst Odessa Port Side is not may be due to several reasons.  Firstly, there may be a grubby agreement between Ihor Kolomoisky and the Prime Minister that he will get Odessa Port Side – so why involve an external advisor who will be ignored and may then go public with matters that some would prefer to remain behind the curtain.

Odessa Port Side is also a money making and not subsidy taking entity.  It is therefore an easier sell (unless a buyer is looking for a currently loss making entity for tax reasons), so it may be deemed there is no need for “an advisor“.

Another obvious reason is that Odessa is not a war zone – an issue that cannot be ignored with the production units of Centrenergo.

Centrenergo is the second largest thermal generator by capacity in Ukraine at about 7550 MW – but its generation sites are spread across Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donetsk.  Two of these production sites were built in the 1970s to burn anthracitic coal which is mined in The (occupied) Donbas.  There happens to be a war occurring in Donetsk and the wider Donbas.

That said, anthractic coal can be imported.  Costly conversions to exiting industrial plant infrastructure can be made if the purchase price reflects such required modernisation investment.  Rinat Akhmetov and his SCM vehicle seem highly unlikely to buy despite this being very much “up his ally”.  He, like Mr Firtash, currently has cash flow issues.

So who?

There is rumour that the French GDF Suez, and a few other foreigners, are interested, so perhaps the issues listed above are not enough to put off serious investors.

Indeed what is most likely to put off most serious investors is the absence of reform in the Ukrainian energy sector as a whole.   The government will need to reform and transform the energy sector to allow new owners the room to turn these entities around and make a profit under sound management and market conditions.

Quite what value the Cabinet of Ministers puts on its 78.3% share of Centrenergo remains to be seen.  It may well be that the value of the 78.3% State share is perceived as less than the costs of subsidies/loses.

Perhaps “an advisor” is required to justify selling Centrenergo for UAH 1, just to get it and its subsidies/loses off of the governmental balance sheet?  A matter of “We took advice, and that was the advice given – the buck doesn’t stop here!”

There are some very hard political and economic choices to be made when selling off State assets that have relied on subsidies/made loses consistently.  To get such subsidy eating/loss making entities off of the government balance sheet is probably more important than the revenue income from the actual sales  – the news headlines will not be kind and the existing monopolies will provide robust resistance.

Will the government have the political will to do what is necessary?  Centrenergo is going to be something of an energy bellwether, not so much in its actual privatisation (if it happens), but what need happen around its sale to turn it into an asset worth buying as a business with a potentially profitable future.

So, to Centrenergo or not to Centrenergo? – That is the question, for it is a question about far more than simply flogging off a State asset to any/the highest bidder.


Outsourcing Ukrainian Customs & Border Service?

April 6, 2015

One of the most progressive political parties in Ukraine is arguably Samopomich, headed, and in a large part financed by, Lviv Mayor Andrei Sadovyi.  It is a party in effect, sponsored millionaires and multi-millionaires rather than by the oligarchical billionaires.  It’s Rada MPs are more or less ideologically driven western-looking reformers, and it ran a more or less transparent electoral campaign, including electoral financing to a degree that should transparent political party funding ever become a statutory requirement as part of a battle against oligarchical ownership of MPs, (and parties), Samopomich would suffer the least of all political parties currently in the Rada.

It is also a party that tends to think, and  approach issues, “outside of the box” far more often than most other political parties.  Something that is a refreshing change, even if that “outside of the box thinking” is actually where it should occasionally remain – after due consideration.

Mr Sadovyi is certainly not beyond using Lviv as a trial venue for pilot projects – no pun intended in the case of this link to the “Open Skies” experiment now running at Lviv Airport.

Nobody would be particularly surprised if one future day, there is a President of Ukraine named Andrei Sadovyi.

It comes as no surprise then, that on his Facebook page a few days ago, Andrei Sadovyi floated the idea of outsourcing the customs and border control management to European nations – suggesting Germany or Switzerland.  The economic costs of this – and more – it is claimed, would be met by the reduction in corruption and increased legitimate revenue to the State.

As (almost) always when floating a trial balloon, Mr Sadovyi provides an opinion survey to participate in, for those that take the time to “click” where necessary.  Numerous surveys being all part and parcel of becoming a multi-millionaire marketing and media businessman presumably.

Mr Sadovyi does have a very valid point regarding the efficiency and corruption of those various State entities that have a role in Ukrainian customs and border control.  Ukraine ranks 61st of 160 nations assessed in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index.  Room for improvement undoubtedly – and urgently so, with the EU DCFTA coming into full effect on 1st January 2016.

But is outsourcing the Ukrainian customs border management to the Europeans a good idea?  It is, after all, not without a reasonably successful regional precedent.  A post-Communist Poland took this very route using German customs management for a period of time.  Mr Sadovyi is not claiming to have invented a new wheel with a masterstroke of creative thinking – and it is natural that Lviv, more than most Ukrainian cities, looks very closely at what worked – or didn’t – during the Polish transition, due it its adjacent geographical location.

How will Ukrainian customs and border management improve, increasing efficiency and reducing corruption, if it is outsourced to the Germans or the Swiss?  Would it remove the root causes of inefficiency or corruption currently plaguing the Ukrainian customs and border agencies?

There are undoubtedly human resources issues that have to be addressed – urgently in some cases – despite other significant progress as noted by the EUBAM team in Odessa detailed in this recent, lengthy, report on the ports of Odessa and Illichovsk.

Indeed one of the issues raised under 6 headings, listing 29 recommendations, following EUBAM Gap analysis, is human resources and the effective management thereof as one of the priorities to address.

“There is a critical need to establish stable border control services where employees can expect
reasonable remuneration for their labour, and to have their skills and potential recognised and
developed.  Currently salaries are extremely low, and as such include significant bonus elements that are sometimes withheld.  A newly appointed customs officer receives a salary that will not cover living expenses, even at the most basic level.  At the same time there are by international standards very high levels of pay compression.  So in salary terms alone incentives to seek promotion are low.  Whilst it is not the contention that addressing the salaries issue is the single remedy to address corruption, not to pay a proper living wage means to undermine all other remedies.  The situation of the newly recruited officer is critical.  These are formative years, and the time when individuals establish and develop their working behaviour patterns.  It would be surprising indeed if with a monthly salary approximately equivalent to sixty Euros, individual officers, however well-intentioned at the outset, did not feel the pressure to seek alternative ways to supplement their income. This breeds corruption.

Other aspects of employer/employee relationships and performance management are also important to achieving organisational stability and motivating individuals in order to maximise organisational effectiveness.  In recent years the average tenure of the Head of Customs in the southern region has been barely a few months.  Since June 2014 there have been four substantive or acting appointments to this position.  Similar movements have been noticed in the lower management echelons, although to a lesser degree.  Such changes may be symptomatic of several factors, but the result is undoubtedly the creation of high levels of uncertainty and instability.  On the other side of the appointments door are the dismissals.  Although no firm data is available, anecdotally numbers are significant.  Frequently, reports are received of individual customs officers being dismissed for alleged corruption.”

Undoubtedly a starting salary of Euro 60 per month is not enough to live on in Ukraine, and naturally such a woeful salary invites the solicitation of additional funds through nefarious acts, not necessarily through greed, but by necessity.  When your front line is so woefully remunerated for its internationally facing work, problems invite themselves in a domain with far more bureaucratic regulations and rules, than staff employed to implement or manipulate them.

Mountainous bureaucracy, obscure regulations, and poorly paid staff, present opportunities for corruption.  If an individual is caught and fired for corruption, the prospect of losing Euro 60 per month job, with few career enhancement opportunities based upon merit, and very limited financially appealing promotion drivers within the borders agencies, is not that much of a loss when weighed against the potential gains of soliciting bribes whilst you can.

Further, as the EUBAM report on the Odessa ports makes very clear, there is a very high turn over of management within the border agencies – most senior appointments lasting only a few months.  This is due – at least in part – to the fact that regional fiefdoms, that in turn run regionally nefarious schemes, have influence upon who gets appointed to what management position in all regional entities.  Senior management appointments are therefore extremely political locally – and corrupt.  It therefore follows that senior management retain their position only so long as the local political winds blow favourably – or they are caught for nefarious schemes.

It does however, create an ever-changing management playing field for the mere, chronically underpaid mortals, standing at the gates to Ukraine.  Stability associated with sustained management, clearly, there is not.  Neither is there the legitimate remuneration required to put personal ethics before feeding a family or clothing yourself.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svgThe bottom rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is perhaps not where State enforcement agency employees should find themselves if petty (but extremely voluminous) corruption is to be avoided.

Quite how outsourced German or Swiss customs and border services management would address both chronically insufficient remuneration and compressed increases in remuneration upon the promotional ladder is somewhat unclear.  Those answers are to be found in the Ukrainian State coffers.

Neither, it has to be said, is it clear how such European management would remove unnecessary/antiquated/Soviet relic Ukrainian rules and regulations relating to border control – for that is surely an issue for the Rada to repeal such nonsense, and in doing so remove much of the bureaucracy that can be employed to generated nefariously solicited income.

Would outsourced German or Swiss customs and border management lead to a shared IT EU platform automatically recognising certain documents, weights, measures and all such technicalities?  Not unless Ukraine decides to do it.

Will outsourced European customs and borders management make those in Kyiv insure that the EU Customs Blueprints are anything more than a document gathering dust on a shelf somewhere?  Recommendations and possible solutions to a quality customs and border service are certainly not lacking within the aforementioned blueprints – indeed they are specifically designed for the ENP nations.  A German or Swiss implementation team may have some effect – but expanding the remit of the long-standing EUBAM in Odessa could also be tasked with such just as easily  – and an implementation team is not exactly the outsourced customs and borders management as currently being mulled by Mr Sadovyi and Samopomich.

How long would Ukrainian customs and borders management be outsourced?  Which agencies would have their management outsourced? – For there is more than one agency tasked at the borders of Ukraine.

What are the expectations if such management is outsourced, when the domestic underlying human resources factors effecting corruption, together with legislative/bureaucratic labyrinth of opportunity remain unchanged?

Just what can be expected by outsourcing to German or Swiss management, when their domestic subordinates remain woefully underpaid, drowning in/or making the most of opportunities presented by mountainous, antiquated, and unnecessary bureaucracy (much of which is still hard-copy and not electronically generated)?  German or Swiss management cannot correct such issues – they are issues that only the Ukrainian State can correct.

Once some fundamentals have been corrected, then there may be much more to be gained by any such outsourcing allowing the best managerial customs and borders practice to be absorbed by the next emerging Ukrainian management team tasked to assume control of the agencies eventually.  The things is, however, the Ukrainian customs and border agencies management, after numerous years of exposure to EUBAM, are quite aware of best practice already.

As such, the outsourcing of management is not an answer in and of itself – although it could be part of the answer.  Just as builders install areas rockwool amongst loft insulation to act as firebreaks, different layers of outsourced European customs and borders management, at various stages within the hierarchy, may act as numerous firebreaks against the nefarious schemes of the regional fiefdoms and power vertical, until a suitably remunerated, Ukrainian rockwool comes through the ranks of the customs and border agencies themselves.

Simply outsourcing the (management) problems to the Germans or Swiss, without them having the domestic tools to put some fundamental internal problems right, seems otherwise pointless.


Ukrainian Oil & Gas to get international management?

March 30, 2015

After all the unnecessarily public shenanigans that played out last week between the majority and minority shareholders of Ukrnafta – the State and Igor Kolomoiski – and other potential confrontations, such as Uktransnafta, Prime Minister Arseney Yatseniuk has announced that a change of management, which had a great deal to do with the unnecessarily public collision between State and Igor Kolomoiski, will occur.

It will occur with international management being brought in to insure transparency for all stakeholders.

“A new approach to the state of public companies – Ukrnafta, Ukrtransnafta, and all others, Ukrtatnafta – The state recovers its management, we respect the rights of other shareholders, receive and distribute dividends, and we put in place a new high-quality foreign management.”

First and foremost, a reasonable compromise in light of the aforementioned public spat.  Indeed, perhaps a way to combat corruption at the top of many State owned entities, from energy to the defence entities and beyond.

Naturally to attract the best international industry specific senior professionals, the State and other shareholders will have to pay the commensurate international remuneration (plus perks, and possibly “golden hello’s” and/or “contractually assured “golden handshakes” too) for such management.  That said, it will probably still save the State (and shareholders) a small fortune in losses due to gargantuan corruption by doing so.

The Prime Minister went on to state that “The new leadership will Ukrnefti, it must be selected by an international audit, through professional people with serious international reputation.  “We, the government, decided that now all heads of state companies have elected only in open competition, publicly, live, and no longer can there be inserted a godfather, brother or matchmaker.

Fair enough.

However, the issue will be whether the senior industry specific professionals with a “serious international reputation” can be attracted – and the remuneration + package, is not going to be enough to do that on its own.

As any professional “headhunter” knows, money and perks have to be attractive, but the actual challenge of the job on offer also has to appeal.

Those that have previously been “headhunted” will attest to this being undoubtedly true.  Indeed, your author attests to it being true.

The question therefore arises as to the professional challenges that appeal to these specific international professionals – for the challenges that the Ukrainian companies face will not appeal to all who may be approached, dependent upon the parameters of the job role.


What is the aim of changing the management?  To insure more transparent dividends for the shareholders and nothing more?

How much of a free hand will any new senior international professionals have to restructure the businesses?  A restructuring that is drastically required.

Can they go through the supply chain like the proverbial dose of salts, reducing or increasing access to the supply chain, whilst undoubtedly annoying a few vested interests in doing so?  Is the supply chain “tiered”, similar to BP for example?  How broad should Tier 1, 2 or 3 be?  Is there a requirement of oversight for any subcontractors/suppliers to those appointed Tier 1, 2 or 3 suppliers regarding quality assurance?

Are they equally at liberty to go through the existing employees with the same proverbial dose of salts, considering many have been placed there through nepotism, rather than on merit?

Whilst corruption and transparency will undoubtedly be atop of the agenda for any new international management, is there scope for corporate expansion during their tenure?  Is there a need for reduction to core competencies?  Perhaps there is a desire to become more of a global player, and more actively tender/bid for international opportunities in due course?  Does the desire exist to act as a (minority or majority) partner in any global opportunities?

It would be foolish to waste the global relationships that senior international industry professionals bring with them, as there is much to be said for personal relationships and the opportunities they can (and generally do) bring.  Would the shareholders want to make that leap as and when such opportunities present themselves?

Whilst it may appear from Mr Yatseniuk’s words above, that Ukraine would be interviewing any serious professional international candidate, it would be rather naive to think of it that way.  The truth be told, it is very much vice versa – Ukraine will be interviewed by the candidates in line with their (primarily managerial) expectations, if they are to make the move from their current positions to those that are on offer.

To be very blunt, there will not be many serious international industry professionals interested in a managerial role confined to insuring that dividends are transparent and duly paid to shareholders.

If, however, the gauntlet is thrown down to turn these State entities into respected and competitive industry players, with a (more or less) free managerial hand to accomplish that, then top quality global candidates there most certainly will be – for the challenge presented would then certainly appeal to many.


Project Managers Wanted – Reforms Ukraine

March 29, 2015

It’s not often this blog advertises job vacancies – however these job vacancies are more worthy than most for some additional promotion, simply due to the fact that should those successful candidates succeed in fulfilling their appointed roles robustly, the author, together with the rest of Ukrainian society, is likely to benefit.

Despite this blog’s ineptitude at promoting job vacancies, it does appear that some websites are now being built in an attempt to fill that void – specifically in relation to what the DCFTA may or may not bring to Ukraine.

During July 2014, a Presidential Decree created the National Council and Executive Committee for Reforms.  In order to support it – or to be blunt, add the middle management and workforce to walk the talk of the enlightened thinkers – the Project Office for the Coordination of Development and Implementation of Reforms was necessarily born.

Having duly talked since July 2014, it is now time to walk.  Thus there are now vacancies for Project Managers, with an anticipated start date of late April/early May to insure the walk actually matches the talk.

Initially the roles are expected to last 12 months – although to be honest, it seems likely that the roles will be required to continue beyond a 1 year contract.  A wise candidate may anticipate at least another 12 month extension considering the scale of the tasks ahead.

The easy part will be providing defined coordination, analytical, and communications support, together with assistance in strategic planning reforms, responsibilities for the development of specific reform plans, and monitoring implementation.

(Getting things implemented and consolidated will be far, far more difficult than any planning.)

The Project Office naturally works in cooperation with the National Council and Executive Committee, but also with the EBRD – who will jointly assess candidates.

PMAs to candidate abilities:

Project manager:

Coordinates the reform work of the Task Team

Develops Task Team reforms

Monitors and controls the implementation of the Reform Plan

Makes regular reports to the Reform Plan Manager and the public.



A minimum of 3 years experience in managing complex projects.

Proven change implementation success.

Minimum of a Master’s Degree (or equivalent).

Fluency in Ukrainian and English – both spoken and written.

Strong communication and negotiation skills

Ability to build consensus.

Be able to handle large quantities of data.

Capable decision maker.


Project Areas:

Electoral legislation reform

Public Procurement reform

Anti-corruption reform.

Judicial Reform

Decentralisation of Public Administration

Deregulation & Business Development reform.

Law Enforcement reform.

National Security & Defence reform.

Health Care reform.

Tax reform.

Agriculture reform.

Education reform

Financial Sector reform.

Public Property reform

Energy (& Energy Independence) reform.


Thus, having such a large number of erudite and highly educated readers, many of whom undoubtedly would be able to meet the requirements above, it is now a matter of informing you of how to apply.

Interested parties, please email you resume, together with a 1 page covering letter outlining which area of reform you feel you are best suited to project manage, to no later than 7th April.

Naturally any of you that apply and whom are ultimately successful, as and when you find yourself in Odessa battling with the regional fiefdom, then meeting for a coffee and a chat would be delightful.



Back to the Venice Commission

March 15, 2015

Yesterday it became clear that the Prosecutor General’s Office will soon be requesting the Rada to vote in favour of lifting several of their colleagues Constitutional immunity to facilitate preliminary investigation to progress into prosecution and judicial due process.

As stated in a post last week relating to the investigation of 4 judges, despite a Constitutional majority in the Rada voting to remove the immunity of MPs and judges, it currently remains in effect.  The matter has now been sent to the Constitutional Court, awaiting its nod of approval.

In the meantime, whilst progress relating to the removal of immunity for MPs and judges has been made, to expect any speedy adoption whilst there remains no clear legal path for presidential impeachment would be somewhat hopeful.  When immunity is finally revoked, it will be across the entirety of executive power – probably simultaneously.  It would be foolish to think that parliament and judiciary will surrender their immunity, whilst leaving the president untouchable/unimpeachable.

In the meantime, whilst the Constitution Court ponders the legislation placed before it, on 20th/21st March, the ever-wise Venice Commission are to engage in an “exchange of views” relating to the currently pending legislation, as well as the (poorly written) lustration law, with Ukraine.

It is already known the Venice Commission is not particularly impressed by the lustration law.  In short there are several major areas of concern for the Commission.  Firstly The Venice Commission would prefer that the body in charge of lustration be a specially established independent commission – not the Justice Ministry.

There are issues with a persons right to a fair trial and the mechanics of due process, including the right to a lawyer, equal rights of the parties, and the right to be heard in court – notwithstanding that administrative decisions on lustration should be postponed during the trial until the final sentence is handed out.

Further, the Commission has reservations relating to the scope of the law’s application, suggesting the provisions of the law specifying the list of positions subject to lustration should be revised, and that lustration should only apply to those positions that could pose considerable danger to human rights and democracy, and that guilt should be proven in each specific case.  Thus guilt cannot be considered as proven based on an official’s affiliation with a specific category of public establishment alone.

The Venice Commission, together with the Directorate of Human Rights, will adopt a joint opinion on both the recent law removing judicial and MPs immunity and last year’s lustration law.

Undoubtedly whatever the Venice Commission has to say will be duly noted by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, for not only is the recently passed law removing immunity pending the Constitutional Court nod, but there is also a legal challenge to the lustration law, with Part 1, Clause 6 – Part 2, Clause 2 – Part 2, paragraph 13 – Part 3 and Article 3 all pending the Court’s view as to its Constitutionality.  (Thus whilst not striking down the entire lustration law, it would certainly seem to hollow it out somewhat.)

The future of some key populist legislation may be about to receive some serious (European inspired, integration aligning) revision.

If so, the questions are whether those that have already been subjected to lustration will be forming a queue at the European Court of Human Rights, whether the Ukrainian authorities will simply reemploy them and carry out the procedure once again in line with newly European approximated legislation, or whether there will be conversations behind the curtain between the lustrated and the lustrators whereby agreements will be reached that no appeals for wrongful dismissal/reinstatement are forthcoming, in return for no further investigations with the prospect of immunity otherwise heading for the Ukrainian history books.

It will be interesting to see both the adopted opinion and Ukrainian reaction to it.



Inclusive or exclusive innovation (or is it invigoration) – Odessa/Ukraine

March 5, 2015

Now and again, this blog is asked to contribute to discussions, either directly or indirectly (arming others that are going into a debate/conference) with a thought or two.  Such requests occur far more regularly at a local level, but occasionally at a national level too.  After all, nobody has the monopoly on good ideas, and some Ukrainians still value some input from its western immigrant community.

Ergo, even the often foolish – such as this blog – occasionally get to (hopefully) point toward the highway of progress.  Or at make the suggestion that looking at the map and the various routes possible may not be a bad idea.

Recently a small, educated gathering of the dynamic 30-somethings, including a few regional politicos, engaged in a conversation regarding innovation – and specifically “innovating Odessa” became the unofficial theme, naturally enough.

It became fairly clear, fairly early on, that “business incubators”, “angel investors”, “government and external subsidies/grants” together with “Science parks” were deemed highly attractive – the thinking being that creation of such innovative centers in and around Odessa would lead to a natural expansion of these sectors and ultimately a “trickle down” positive effect on the local economy.

But are those ideas innovative, or invigorating?  Or both?  Does one necessarily lead to another?

Perhaps the “trickle down” will occur, yet that depends very much upon whether the Odessite version of Bill Gates or Richard Branson that may emerge from any such innovation centre, is of a mind to horde personal wealth, or expand, reinvest, diversify, fund further R&D, and in doing so spend that wealth locally.

There’s not a lot of “trickle down” to be had when large sums are taken out of an economy.  Indeed there isn’t much of a seepage, let alone a flood, into other business sectors in many cases either.

To genuinely innovate the Odessa economy, any innovation would have to increase the chances of employment for a great many more people outside the traditional maritime/port, or tourism industries do – or the emerging IT sector.

“Private cash” tends to invest in where the ROCE is expected to be highest – and rightly so from an investors point of view perhaps.  It concentrates a little more heavily on the development and delivery rather than innovative research.  Indeed whilst invigoration of a particular market sector may take place, neither the invigoration nor any (possible) subsequent innovation may trickle down locally.

As Utopian as it would be, there will be no equivalent of the German Fraunhofer Not For Profit innovation research centers across Ukraine.  The reason being there is no coherent “innovation policy” in Ukraine, neither nationally or locally, even if there was the money and political will to create such an entity.

Therein, this blog pointed out, was a significant problem – both locally and nationally, when government funds in Ukraine (central or local) concentrate on neither R or D in R&D in any meaningful policy orientated way.

Thus rather than anybody concentrating upon where society would like to see innovative solutions sought, there is little interest.  Headline grabbing E-gov and e-democracy, even e-cities as a local government projects are all well and good – unless society would prefer to see money spent on  innovation in health.  Or quality of life.  Or Education.  Or transport.

There is and always will be – regardless of economic climate in Ukraine – limited national or local government cash for innovation.  With budgetary decentralisation to local government, it follows that local government has a major role to play in local innovation – quite rightly too.

However when attempting to deal with local innovative solutions via local government money, it would seem wise to have a conversation with the locals.  When spending limited funds, the local community is likely to want to know what innovation is for, who benefits, how they benefit, whether it is justifiable/ethical, and have a say in innovative priorities.  Any local innovative spending would be far better understood and received following an inclusive local conversation.

That would lend itself towards research prior to making investment into what may be nothing more than temporary business sector invigoration, rather than what may turn out to be a much desired local innovative solution.  Research would also help identify any cross cutting cleavages where they exist.

The innovation question from this blog for the dynamic 30-somethings, was whom is innovation, and specifically any publicly funded innovation investment to serve?  An inclusive broad base of society, or a small exclusive elite, or the innovator?  Should the source of financing weigh more heavily toward one or another answer to that question – or be specifically designed to off-set any private/public funding biases?  Should it metaphorically deliver a bus service for the masses, or a stretch limo for the few, or a chauffeur for the elite?

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