24 November 2020

The Ministry of Finance and the National Bank of Ukraine should take a more active position and initiate a deferral of payments and, possibly, a restructuring of the state debt. On 21-22 November, Riyadh hosted a very important G20 Summit under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia. One of its outcomes was the final Declaration, in which the G20 States set down their intention to extend the deferral of debt repayments for the world's poorest countries to a total of USD 5.7 billion until mid-2021.

Ukraine could also initiate negotiations with international creditors to have our external obligations reviewed. To ask for help, we should not wait for the catastrophic deterioration in the economic situation to the level of countries that were granted debt rescheduling by G20. The war, deindustrialization, a sharp drop in foreign investment, and now the coronavirus pandemic put the chances of our economic recovery at threat.

Survival of the Ukrainian people is a sufficient reason for starting such a dialogue with creditors, for making up some constructive and adequate proposals from our side, avoiding, of course, the threat of declaring a default. And international creditors claiming to be our partners should be flexible and favourable. According to the NBU forecasts, the decline of the Ukrainian economy in 2020 will be 6%, and the worsening of the epidemic situation will significantly slow down its recovery in 2021, among other factors due to the global recession, a decrease in demand for and prices of domestic export goods.

Ukraine will spend almost UAH 600 billion on payments and servicing of the state debt in 2021, and this is the largest item of all the state budget expenses projected at the level of UAH 1.35 trillion. This makes it impossible to finance the development of human capital and socio-economic infrastructure. Suspending repayments of the principal and interest on it for at least a year would help accumulate the funds necessary to combat the pandemic and restore the economy.

I would like to emphasize the importance of investing in social capital, which was declared by the G20 States: the development of healthcare and education were picked as priority areas. When addressing the participants of the Summit, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called on the G20 States to write off poor countries’ debts and focus efforts on supporting healthcare, education and social projects in developing countries. Amid the crisis, the Ukrainian state should also shift the focus towards the preservation and development of our economy’s main resource that is human capital.

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