Delivering on the ambitious reform agenda of the new government, including establishing a transparent and efficient market for agricultural land, will help boost economic growth and living standards further for the Ukrainian people
KYIV, November 19, 2019 – Economic growth in Ukraine picked up to 3.6 percent in the first half of 2019 and 4.2 percent in the third quarter driven by a strong agricultural harvest and consumption growth from higher wages, remittances, and a resumption of consumer lending, according to the World Bank’s latest Ukraine Economic Update. At the same time, investment growth has not yet picked up to levels needed for stronger and sustained economic growth.
“Delivering on the ambitious reform agenda of the new government to boost investment and economic growth will help create jobs and improve living standards,” said Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Country Director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. “The key reforms include establishing a transparent and efficient agricultural land market, demonopolizing the gas sector through ownership unbundling of Naftogas, and increasing the efficiency of bank lending to the private sector by reducing non-performing loans in state-owned banks.”
If the key reforms move forward expeditiously, economic growth is projected at 3.6 percent in 2019, 3.7 percent in 2020, and 4.2 percent in 2021.
Sound fiscal and monetary management, including efforts to keep current public expenditures under control, are helping reduce public debt, inflation, and interest rates in 2019. Public and publicly guaranteed debt is projected to decline to 52 percent in 2019 from a peak of 81 percent in 2016. Inflation declined to 6.5 percent in October 2019 from 9.8 percent at end-2018, which has allowed the National Bank of Ukraine to reduce the key policy rate to 15.5 percent in October from 18 percent in April.
Continuing the prudent fiscal management going forward by addressing expenditure pressures from wages and social benefits will be important to further reduce inflation and interest rates and support stronger economic growth and higher living standards.
It will also be important to mobilize adequate external financing to meet significant public debt repayments in 2019-2021.
Establishing a land market for agricultural growth
According to the World Bank’s Special Focus Note, lifting the moratorium on agricultural land sales and establishing a transparent and efficient market for agricultural land has the potential to boost economic growth in Ukraine by 0.5 to 1.5 percent per year over a 5-year period.
Ukraine has the largest endowment of arable land in Europe, but agricultural productivity in Ukraine is a fraction of that in other European countries.
The moratorium on agriculture land sales is a major impediment to attracting investment and unlocking productivity in agriculture. The moratorium undermines the security of land tenure and incentives to undertake productivity enhancing investments such as irrigation, move into higher value-added crops, and adopt new technologies.
“The Draft Land Turnover Law passed the first reading in Rada last week in an important breakthrough,” said Faruk Khan, World Bank Lead Economist for Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. “Enactment of the land turnover law, along with complementary legislation needed to safeguard transparency and efficiency, will be a major milestone in strengthening Ukraine’s growth prospects going forward.
Access to financing for small, credit-constrained farmers will be important to enable them to participate in the market and improve their productivity. Financing instruments should be effective and sustainable, which means targeting them to small farmers and designing them in a manner that provides incentives to improve productivity and adopt higher value-added crops and new technologies, at an affordable fiscal cost.