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Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

Ukraine has the Na­tional In­vest­ment Coun­cil, Ukraine In­vest, Kyiv In­vest­ment Agency and many other or­ga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple, in public and pri­vate sec­tors, whose mis­sion is to in­crease in­vest­ment in a na­tion starved for it.

We hate to say it, but those agen­cies and the peo­ple staffing them are wast­ing their time un­til Ukraine gets the ba­sics right.

It took visit­ing World Bank Pres­i­dent Jim Yong Kim to cut to the chase on Nov. 14 in Kyiv, the lat­est in a long list of visit­ing dig­ni­taries try­ing to give Ukraine's lead­ers a much-needed real­ity check.

"The cre­ation of an in­de­pen­dent an­ti­cor­rup­tion court is the crit­i­cal next step to tackle cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture, which are the big­gest ob­sta­cles to Ukraine’s devel­op­ment and pros­per­ity,” Kim said. “Progress in fight­ing cor­rup­tion is cru­cial to grow busi­nesses, cre­ate jobs, at­tract in­vestors, and pro­vide equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for all Ukraini­ans.”

Got that Boris Lozhkin, Daniel Bi­lak, Oleg Mistyuk and all the other lead­ers of busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions in Ukraine? Stop shoot­ing the mes­sen­gers, and deny­ing the real­ity. Get to work. Step No. 1 means rec­og­niz­ing, as mem­ber of par­lia­ment Sergii Leshchenko laid out in a page 1 op-ed, that Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko has cast his lot with the oli­garchs who plun­der the na­tion and bro­ken his cor­rup­tion-fight­ing prom­ises to the peo­ple who put him in power. Step No. 2 would be to mar­shal col­lec­tive in­flu­ence and unite with Ukraine's cit­i­zens, civic so­ci­ety and West­ern friends to pres­sure the lead­er­ship to change.

Ukraine's courts are hope­lessly cor­rupt and the make-up of the new Supreme Court won't change any­thing. Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Yuriy Lut­senko is an in­com­pe­tent po­lit­i­cal hack put in place to ha­rass the pres­i­dent's foes and pro­tect his friends. In­te­rior Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov and Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine head Va­syl Hryt­sak are anti-re­form­ers. Cor­po­rate raid­ing, tax eva­sion, in­sider fa­vors and im­punity still rule. On a more lo­cal and fun­da­men­tal level, Mayor Vi­tali Kl­itschko, the heroic boxer and hail fel­low well met, con­tin­ues to mis­man­age the city. The ev­i­dence is all around us, al­though those of us who live here are too in­ured to it.

How can Ukraine at­tract in­vestors when it can­not even re­li­ably sup­ply all build­ings with hot wa­ter and heat? Util­i­ties are the most ba­sic of gov­ern­ment ser­vices and Kyiv is fail­ing.

How can Ukraine im­prove its image or econ­omy when Kyiv has empty, rot­ting, graf­fiti-strewn build­ings in its city cen­ter? Mistyuk told the Kyiv Post that the city can't do any­thing about it — that the build­ings have pri­vate own­ers who can do what they want. Non­sense. Great cities in the world em­ploy smart tac­tics — build­ing nui­sance or­di­nances, emi­nent do­main — to rid their mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of prop­er­ties that are do­ing noth­ing com­mer­cially or aes­thet­i­cally for their cit­i­zens. Another way to spur pro­duc­tive use of build­ings is a pro­gres­sive prop­erty tax — and one that en­acts a penalty tax for own­ers of dor­mant build­ings.

Let's move to public trans­porta­tion and park­ing. Any­body who has tried to get from one end of this city to another knows that we don't have a road net­work that can meet the de­mands. Greater em­pha­sis on im­prov­ing our ex­ten­sive, but aging, public trans­porta­tion net­work of metro, trams, trol­ley­buses, buses and mini-buses will help a lot. As for park­ing, it's a disas­ter. Sim­ple tried and true so­lu­tions need to be put in place: En­force park­ing re­stric­tions, fine vi­o­la­tors and start tow­ing il­le­gally parked cars or "boot­ing" them — plac­ing me­tal locks on the wheels — so that own­ers get the mes­sage. This should be cou­pled with in­cen­tives and low-cost fi­nanc­ing to build park­ing ramps, either mu­nic­i­pally or pri­vately owned, to help mo­torists get their cars off the streets and side­walks. Ukraine and its cap­i­tal city have in­de­struc­tible charms. But poor public poli­cies and spine­less politi­cians are tempt­ing fate.

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