Yushchenko Promises to Cut Bureaucracy

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday urged dialogue between the government and business leaders, promising to cut down on bureaucracy and end the corrupt ties that flourished under former President Leonid Kuchma's regime.

"I want to start dialogue with business from scratch," Yushchenko said at a meeting with leading business executives and government officials in downtown Kiev. Those hidden connections between officials and some businesses were preventing the state from moving ahead with its reform plans, Yushchenko said.

The Ukrainian leader also said the government would reconsider its tax policy to balance the burden on businesses.

Yushchenko who became president following last year's bitterly contested presidential vote, pledged that the partnership between government and business would be a key priority.

He vowed to "drastically reduce contacts between entrepreneurs with state bodies" and to curb bureaucracy.

At the meeting, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced that the government had created a new council of entrepreneurs that meets each Monday to consider problems of business and said that the government would not adopt any new decree without approval of the new body.

"I want you (business people) to trust the new government," said Tymoshenko.

However, Andriy Dashkevych, the head of the state committee on entrepreneurship, claimed that many governmental moves involving small and medium-sized businesses were made "in violation of the law."

"Our government makes one step forward and two steps back ... it is high time to start a dialogue," said Aleksandra Kuzhel, a businesswoman.

Source: AP