Vladyslav Rashkovan: "Post-war reconstruction is a task for decades, if not generations. It cannot be done on impulse"

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What is the vision of a new Ukraine? How can we build the country to propel it towards the future instead of merely replicating the past? We asked well-known businessmen, public and social activists, and scholars four simple questions that will pave the way for broader discussions in the future, exploration of ideas, and possible strategies that will be practically significant for building a renewed country.

Vladyslav Rashkovan, Alternate Executive Director at the IMF

1. How do you envision Ukraine's post-war recovery? Where should the main efforts be directed?

Three things are important to me during recovery:

1. I would like to see the top 40-50 government officials join efforts with 40-50 greatest intellectuals and business representatives and have the courage to formulate a vision for post-war Ukraine. A common vision. I want each of them to see the same picture of Ukraine's future when they close their eyes. And I hope that this picture will not look like Poland in 2000, but like Ukraine as an EU member in 2030-2035. That is, for the sake of vision, we need to look to the future, not the past.

2. Post-war reconstruction is a task for decades, if not generations. It cannot be carried out and completed on the spur of the moment. Full reconstruction and modernisation of the country will require building a proper reconstruction architecture: a capable reconstruction agency, an adequate financing system, an effective donor and creditor coordination system, a transparent system of governance, and many more elements that need to be aligned with our path to the EU. I hope that people in power understand this and can find time to build this architecture.

3. Reconstruction is needed not for the sake of building new roads or schools. Reconstruction is needed for our people, first of all, so that they can return home to Ukraine. The return of millions of Ukrainians is the most important task for the government in the coming years. But not through a call for patriotism (although this is important). People will return if they have more opportunities than in other countries. More opportunities for themselves and their families. In fact, our main task is to fight for Ukrainian children who have now left the country and for those who will decide to do so in the coming years. The government should work to create such opportunities.

In my opinion, the main efforts should be focused on these three points.

2. Which industries should drive the Ukrainian economy after the war?

About six or seven years ago, a Ukrainian prime minister complained to me about a minister who could not identify which sectors could become drivers of the Ukrainian economy. I personally don't really believe in these growth points. I told the prime minister that in order to develop the economy, it would be enough to enable the purchase of land along the Odesa-Kyiv highway, provide fast and hassle-free access to electricity and other communications, and bring the Internet there so that businesses could quickly register by phone. Under such conditions, businesses will decide for themselves which enterprises to develop there. I think that thanks to the Ministry of Digital Transformation, it is now possible to register a company quickly, but other issues have not been resolved yet.

But if we are talking about specific industries, it is obvious that at least five sectors will develop after the war:

1. Private defence industry. I hope we will be able to liberalise this industry and realign it in line with NATO standards, although we can still repair Soviet equipment for other countries. Our success in using such diverse weapons on the same perimeter of the war will be studied. Our IT developments for weapons coordination will evolve into mil-tech start-ups. Our military will be invited to train NATO troops. We need to learn how to make money on this.

2. Green economy. It seems that during the recovery, we can develop a green economy faster than many other EU countries: energy, metallurgy, and new energy-efficient buildings. There will also be a great demand for all elements of the circular economy, including the construction of waste recycling systems after the war. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of work there.

3. The agricultural sector is expected to intensify significantly. The problem is that many farm fields are now mined. In order to maintain and increase the level of harvest, which will be in demand in many countries around the world, we need to significantly increase yield. We should also refocus on agricultural products with higher added value. This will be possible if we invest capital in land. This will only be possible if MPs do not decide to postpone the opening of the land market again.

4. I would also bet on the development of industries that can join European value chains. This could be the automotive, packaging, and transport sectors. Added value chains can also be extended in agriculture.

5. And the development of IT, of course. I hope that we will move away from outstaffing and outsourcing to IT entrepreneurship, which will focus on creating innovative technological products. And these are not just phone apps, but digital management systems for businesses and the state. Diia is a proof that this market offers many prospects for us.

3. What are the main challenges in the post-war development of Ukraine?

Competing priorities are our main challenge. Recovery will require solving thousands of tasks simultaneously. And there will definitely not be enough money for everything. Either the absorption capacity to implement projects will be limited and insufficient, or there will be a shortage of experts or just hands. The competition will be between quick tasks that need to be solved right now and long-term vision and multi-year projects; between the fact that a state-owned company can do something quickly, while a private company will take longer, and the private company still needs to be invited; between the fact that something can be done quickly, bypassing the rules (because it is necessary now), and transparent procedures required by society and international rules; competition of priorities will be when we decide who will be the first to rebuild a house: a veteran, an internally displaced person or a teacher who is needed for a school; when we decide whether to allocate money to a school, museum or hospital. There will be hundreds of such dilemmas. And if we don't have a sustainable system of prioritisation that civil society also agrees with, we will have many more crises around [spending on] paving stones and coats of arms.

Other challenges are well-known: the rule of law, for which it is important to improve the judiciary and justice; the non-systemic reform of law enforcement and tax authorities, the lack of a unified strategy for their development create additional risks for business in investing and protecting property rights; corruption; we also need to reduce the regulatory burden on business in general; and, probably, we need to focus more on ensuring economic competition, combating artificial monopolies and protecting intellectual property rights more – without this, it will be difficult to develop the innovative potential of the IT industry.

4. What should be the role of the state and the private sector on this path?

I would not like to see Ukraine become less democratic after the war and its economy more state-regulated than before the war. That is why the role of the state is to create rules of the game for everyone, to monitor the implementation of these rules fairly and to protect the security of the country, its people and business. Private business can do 90% of all other tasks. I am sure of that. But not at the same time. Both Ukrainian and Western businesses must still trust the Ukrainian state. We still have to win the competition for our people and business from European countries. We must create opportunities for both local and foreign businesses within the country. But after that, the main task of the state is not to interfere.

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