By Vitaly Kniazhansky, The Day
Less than a month remains before the annual EBRD board meeting opens. So the first question The Day asked the head of the organizational committee Oleh Taranov whether the Ukrainian capital is ready to meet these high guests from all over Europe.
A: The only big problem we had, the lack of high class hotels, has been solved. The EBRD has already reserved over 3,000 rooms in Kyiv hotels. In addition there are over 5,000 rooms ready for the Ukrainian and CIS representatives. Also, we will anchor two or three high class cruise ships, which can also be used as quarters for our Western guests. However, this is not at all necessary.
We also do not have any problem with the conference halls and other places where the meeting parties will work. We have perfectly planned everything, from the official part to business forum. The Ukraine Palace, Ukrainian House, and National Philharmonic meet all requirements and international standards. The Kyiv Opera House is also on the entertainment program.
Today we face only organizational problems: we need to train up to Western standards our hotel staff. Training programs in the Institute of Hotel Management are sponsored by the EBRD. Transportation for guests and participants have been prepared. During the preparation process we announced a number of international tenders, thus reducing budget expenditures. According to preliminary estimates, we needed over Hr 20 million, but the state budget supplied us with only Hr 3.8 million and I think we will be able to save some of that money also. We were able to secure almost all hard and software at the lowest price and without budgetary support. In all we have saved about Hr 9 million.
I have no doubt that the meeting will take place on a high level and at low cost. We did invest some money in equipment, but the meeting lasts five days and after that all the hardware will become Ukrainian property. Direct expenses, including upkeep of the organizational committee, will total Hr 400,000 at most. Moreover, this money will be partially compensated by EBRD. Banks will transfer to our account about 50% of the money, received in registration fees from participants. EBRD General Secretary Antonio Maria Kosta visited Ukraine recently. During the visit he announced that without any doubt Ukraine is ready for the meeting.
Q: Of course Kyiv received a certain amount of money to boost hotel development. What will Ukraine receive?
A: The Ukrainian budget will receive taxes from the money brought to Ukraine by the meeting participants, because all services are paid. I am talking here about millions of dollars in one week. There will be about 5,000 guests, each of who will pay at least $200 per night in the hotel. From the experience of previous EBRD meetings, $1000 is spent per person daily, excluding various purchases and additional expenses. But direct access to the leading European businessmen will give Ukraine much more than that. Official delegations from 60 countries along with numerous guests are potential direct investors. They will find partners in Ukraine and might launch joint ventures or other projects. For instance we presented Eastern Ukraine to seven directors of the European bank. When they came to Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and other cites’ enterprises, like for example, Pivdenmash (Southern Machine-Building) or Kharkiv’s Avia plant, they were simply shocked, amazed to find such well-developed industry in Ukraine. We will conduct a series of seminars where Ukrainian businessmen will meet their Western colleagues. An exhibition called “Ukraine, A View for the Twenty-First Century,” may also be effective. Every entrepreneur participating will automatically become a member of the business forum. They will also be granted the unique opportunity to go out to Ukraine’s regions and negotiate directly with enterprise directors.
Q: Do you think we will solve the problems, which could not be solved earlier such as construction of the Odesa oil terminal as well as completion of the power units at Rivne and Khmelnytsky nuclear power plants?
A: The simple fact, that Kyiv was chosen for the annual EBRD meeting attracted much attention to Ukraine. These questions were debated at the latest meeting of the Eurobank President with the Ukrainian Prime Minister. I participated in the negotiations and I am sure that both projects will be successfully completed. In particular, much interest was expressed regarding the Odesa oil terminal. This might be because the EBRD meeting is taking place in Ukraine.
There is another positive thing about these projects. The management of the bank is changing now and the acting president Charles Frank is not a politician as was his predecessor, but a practicing banker. Different public organizations, the Green Party in particular, had much influence upon de LarosiПre, but with the new head this will not be the case. Ukraine has established good relations with the new bank management, and I hope they will continue to improve. Of course, I should note that the former president’s attitude toward Ukraine was also friendly.
Many aspects of solving our problems depend on the experts. Previously they estimated the project of constructing new power units to be unprofitable, but now we have their positive estimate and thus may apply for a loan.