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Ihor Liski: "A strong economy is the most important factor in achieving victory"

Any scenario for 2024 should be viewed through the prism of the frontline, says Ihor Liski, supervisory board chairman of EFI Group. "If we cannot ensure a quick victory, we need to prevent defeat. And to do this, we need to become stronger, united and better prepared to defend the country," the businessman said at the discussion panel "2024: Scenarios for the Country", held as part of the New Country special project by and EFI Group.

Ihor Liski
Photo: Max Trebukhov
Ihor Liski

According to Ihor Liski, three factors can ensure the stability of the front line.

National unity

"This is the main risk and the main factor in uniting everyone. I spent a whole week going on the air (after the detention of investment banker Ihor Mazepa - ed. note) to protect business and establish a dialogue, because this is one of the significant factors of unity. A united business that understands that this is its country, its government and that this government can be trusted, pay taxes without worrying that they will go somewhere else, not to win, not to defend the country, is a big problem," Liski said.

Strong economy

According to Liski, a strong economy is much more important for victory than any other factor.

"Everyone understands that victory is about the economy. It means better weapons, more of them. These are built factories that produce drones, shells, etc. We can simply buy anything we want. Unlike Russia, we have the whole world of arms open to us. We can buy the best equipment. We just need a strong economy," he said.

Motivation for partners to support us further

It needs to be secured, the businessman believes. The argument that we are fighting for common values is less and less effective. "They have their own problems, their own voters, and self always comes first. We have to understand this clearly and play to it," he said.

According to Liski, partners need to talk not only about security values and architecture, but also about the opportunities that are opening up in Ukraine. "Opportunities, for example, for German companies that will sell technologies, build factories, and make money here. We also need to talk about this. This is a practical economic policy that we have to sell," the businessman is convinced.

How to build an efficient economy?

To do this, the state must listen to business and partners, and ask them what they need, Liski is convinced.

"We have to sell the idea that in five to seven years Ukraine will be in the European Union. Just sell it. We need to build an efficient plant in every industry.

We definitely need to become a supplier of all goods which is closer to Europe. Take this function away from China. We definitely need to become a more advanced, higher-value-added country to take the pressure off European farmers, process products here and supply them ready-made.

And the last is defence industry. We definitely need to become a manufacturer of modern, cool weapons and immediately test them at the front," the businessman said.

A soldier of the 108th Separate Brigade of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces launches a Ukrainian reconnaissance drone Leleka
Photo: General Staff
A soldier of the 108th Separate Brigade of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces launches a Ukrainian reconnaissance drone Leleka

What should the government do to achieve this today?

"I believe that the Ukrainian business that has remained in this country, has not given up, has not closed down, has not left to try a different fate abroad, is the core that can be relied on," Liski said. But the government should make business a partner and ensure new, equal rules for everyone, he added.

"I really hope that the social contract that was formed after the beginning of independence and was built, let's be honest, on organised crime, on the red directors and Komsomol members who seized power, who looked at the country as a resource to make money and did not think about living here, will remain in the past.

They understood that there was no need to build new rules of the game here, when they could easily buy a villa in Europe, where there are rules of the game, private property is protected, and everything is great. And what about us? Anyone who has power, has force, can make money for themselves. And this was the attitude towards resources and the rules of the game," Liski said.

But new businesses are not satisfied with these rules of the game, he stated. It needs protection of private property, protection of intellectual property, and the state as a partner to protect it from unfair competition and to protect it in foreign markets, because it is difficult to conquer markets if the state does not help you.

"We don't have time for a generational change, when the new generation will somehow build this new social contract. I would really like to see the government headed by the president right now, because we understand that the security forces report directly to the president, and without waiting for victory, they have adopted new rules of the game. Where there is business, white business, which creates jobs, which has built itself, which is interested in the new rules of the game, which wants to build new enterprises, which wants to compete in Europe.

Attention! We don't want to just disappear when Ukraine joins the European Union and let the Europeans come, we don't want to disappear and start working for them. We want to compete at the European level, so we need a new social contract in which the state is our partner," he said.

He added that businesses must respect two red lines:

"First, we are at war, we do not work with aggressor countries. It is a taboo. Everyone should understand this. Their money should not be here, we are paying for this with blood.

The second red line is that if the state is our partner and we support our military, all entrepreneurs pay taxes. This is a matter of principle, and it is wrong to evade or twist things.

We are ready to sign up to this. But we want equal rights. It's not like my competitor has done something wrong, underpaid and has better conditions, and I'm here, a dupe, paying full price. It doesn't work like that."

"And finally. I want to be a partner. I want to be respected rather than when they dig up something, throw you in jail and then prove something. And you go lose your reputation, money and have no plans at all," the businessman concluded.

New and equal rules for business, he believes, will restart the state and "unlock a lot of energy for the development of the country, which we don't see right now".

Ihor Liski
Photo: Max Trebukhov
Ihor Liski

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