31 October 2010

Should governments be involved in 'Business Support'?

The British government has announced that it will close the network of 'Business Links' throughout the country to help save money. Plus they also announced the closure of the 'Regional Development Agencies' from 2012. The Business link network was designed to help businesses (mainly small businesses) through help/advice/training/information etc.
The RDA's were set up in 1999 by the then Labour government to help focus investment on projects in the nine EU regions of England.

The British government will save approximately GBP 2 billion per annum by axing the RDA's.
It was a good idea at the time to help each region 'do its own thing', although they reported to central government. But like most government backed organisations they eventually lacked focus an became overstaffed. The salaries paid to the senior staff were much higher than in the private sector. Moreover the RDA's also obtained funding from the EU for regional projects.
Most of this EU funding was wasted in my opinion.

Back in August this year the Tax Payers Alliance developed a case for abolishing the RDA's.
See: http://tpa.typepad.com/home/files/structure_of_government_3_the_case_for_abolishing_rdas_e.pdf

Anyhow, the British government has gone ahead and decided to close these organisations.
However, I note that the RDA's will be replaced by something called an LEP -Local Enterprise Partnership. (I get the feeling we have been there before).

The United Kingdom is a so called developed economy so should governments be involved in 'business support' and if so to what level?
You would think that today the UK needs more business support than ever before to recover from the crisis. Governments will always toy around with different support structures to show how they intend to help the private sector but I think the best thing would be for government to stay out of too much interference in private sector business. In the UK we have well established Chambers of Commerce which provide a whole range of services to its members. These Chambers have seen many different government initatives come and go over the years, but the Chambers of Commerce still exist and are better managed and leaner than any government 'quango'.

However, in a developing economy like Ukraine I think there is a need for as much business support as possible during the next 5-10 years and maybe longer.

30 October 2010

Local Elections in Ukraine - Tomorrow

On Sunday 31st October 2010 the Ukraine electorate will be given their chance to vote in the local elections. These are the elections for Mayors in major cities, local town/village councils and also Oblast (Regional) Councils.

With many business people complaining about the proposed introduction of a new 'Tax Code' in Ukraine, these elections will be interesting. It will be a test of the current popularity of the Party of the Regions and a reflection on the new President.

The BBCU does not support any of the political parties in Ukraine. We like to concentrate on business issues only. However, the pace of recovery in Ukraine is still very slow and we do not need any further setbacks which might contribute to keeping investors away.

29 October 2010

How Many more Irish pubs do we need in Kyiv?

Not one for being negative about business, but how many more Irish Pubs do we need in Kyiv?
We now have:

O'Briens Pub
Golden Gate Pub
Lucky Pub
O'Connors Pub
Rosey O'Gradys Pub
Belfast Pub

Plus I'm sure there is another one on the left bank of the river.
I suppose its a sign of the times, when they are all still busy and making money from providing good service. Whatever happened to that great place called a "British Pub'?
Replies encouraged.

When will Common Sense Return?

We hear a lot of talk about how our two countries like to work together.
But this week I again witnessed a situation where fear and 'PCness' (Maybe I have invented a new word)stopped things from happening in the normal way.
I will not name any one but here is the scene.

I introduce a Ukraine Government Minister to a representative of the British Embassy.
Ukraine Government Minister says he intends to visit the UK and asks if same representative can provide help in making an application for a Visa?

Common Sense you might think? Maybe I have lived in Ukraine too long because I also think its a practical way to approach the situation. But representatives from my own embassy are not allowed to provide 'help' or 'advice' to people who are looking to make application for a visa. Knowing this I stepped in and explained to the Minister, that it was not possible. But we the BBCU would be happy to help. It was an easy escape for my freind from the British Embassy.
Its a well known fact that British Embassy employees and even UK Visa/UKBA staff are just not allowed to provide any help to people making a visa application.

Its a crazy world. I cannot help but think that if this Government Minister had approached a member of another embassy based in Kyiv, he may have received a very different reception which would have started to a warmer relationship with that country.

Maybe I miss the old days when just about everything was based on good old common sense.

My word is my bond

This week I attended a special meeting at the Belgravia Business Club in Kyiv.
The VIP guest was Leonid Kravchuk, the first President of Ukraine, plus a clutch of invited ambassadors and other interesting characters.

It was refreshing to hear Leonid Kravchuk talk about the importance of 'Gentlemens Agreements'. Quote:"We can have all the business laws you need but the most important thing is that people do what they agreed to do."

Many people talked about the good example provided by 'Gentlemens Clubs' in London.
(The two Brits present could not help but smile...as we were thinking about another kind of 'Gentlemens Club')

But its good to hear that many people still regard the UK as a place where we provide good examples of how to do things correctly both in business and in everyday life.
Like most of the people present at the meeting, I can only hope that Belgravia Business Club attracts members who are honest and can provide leadership examples in how to do business in Ukraine.

The British Business Club will soon be announcing a special offer to help BBCU members take part in the Belgravia Club.

25 October 2010

Doing Business in Ukraine vs United Kingdom

Many people ask me the question “What’s it like doing business in Ukraine compared to the UK?”
My light hearted reply is sometimes too quick, like “For whom?”…”Me or Ukrainians?”

But seriously I like to look at the question from all sides. i.e. a British person/company doing business in Ukraine and secondly Ukrainians doing business in Ukraine and comparing it to the UK. Let’s look at each one.

British person/company doing business in Ukraine:
1. Payment systems – Just about all business is conducted on up front or advance payments, none of the 30 day plus credit nonsense. A big plus for cash flow.
2. Customers/Clients don’t really expect too much from you as they have little experience of ‘customer service’.

1. Setting up a business in Ukraine is NOT easy
2. Banking system in Ukraine. The banks are still unpaid agents for the government/tax authority. Banks are too afraid to do anything unless it meets with the demands from the Government/Central Bank of Ukraine et al.
3. The Ukraine Government assumes that it owns all the money circulating in the economy.
4. Accountants in Ukraine. They’re also secret agents for the Tax Authority. But they do not know they are performing this free service.
5. Significant Changes in the Legal System are frequent (maybe monthly)
6. Corruption. Most people in both public and private sectors expect to be “Paid Something’ for their troubles in addition to their salary.
7. Black Economy. – Maybe as much as 50 percent of all business is conducted in the ‘black economy’.
8. Rule of Law and the Legal System. It’s a big joke.
9. Service. Most people/businesses provide Bad Customer Service

Ukrainians doing business in Ukraine:
1. Payments system…..same as above.
2. Most people/businesses like to be paid in CASH
3. Customers/Clients…same as above

1. Tax avoidance and even tax evasion are a part of daily life.
2. Banking system in Ukraine….same as above
3. The Ukraine Government…same as above.
4. Accountants in Ukraine…same as above.
5. Significant Changes in the Legal System……same as above.
6. Corruption…….same as above
7. Black Economy. …..same as above
8. Rule of Law….same as above
9. Service…..same as above

Comparing it to the UK- (In the UK its like this..)
1. Customers/Clients DEMAND too much
2. They want 30 days plus free credit on all goods and services supplied
3. Cash Flow is a big problem for most businesses in the UK
4. Businesses are afraid to do anything due to fear of Health & Safety Legislation
5. Employees get paid far too much for what they do

1. Its easy to set up a business in the UK
2. As a business you control all the money in your accounts (If you have any).
3. The Rule of Law in the UK is one of the best examples to the rest of the world.

Well there you go…
One day we can look at this in a more serious way. LOL

22 October 2010

BBCU Meeting 21 October 2010 - Visa's

We held a very successful BBCU meeting last night here in Kyiv.
It was a special meeting to discuss - 'UK Immigration Law & Visa's'
Our guest speakers from London law firm - Davidson Morris, were Anne Morris and Adam Hoefel.
Anne provided an excellent presentation to bring everyone up to date with the latest and proposed further changes in UK Immigration legislation and the new 'Tier' system of Visa's for entry into the UK for Non-EU citizens.

I was not suprised when Anne informed us that the main reason for visa rejections by the FCO/UK Visas was due to the simple fact that the applicants failed to provide enough information in the Visa application process. Even 'professional people' were guilty of failing to provide the required basic information.

What did suprise me is that even in our audience there were not so many people who know about the VIP service for Visa Applicants, nor did people know much about the many different types of Visas that can be obtained. Far too many people just apply for the normal 'Tourist Visa' even when going on a long term business trip.

As expected we had many questions from our members and guests on a whole range of issues.
The new 'English Language Ability' condition to be introduced for those seeking settlement in the UK is going to be interesting as we hear that it could already be the subject of a Human Rights case.

The BBCU can only provide advice/help/assistance on Visa matters to BBCU MEMBERS, we cannot provide a free advice service to anyone seeking a visa...sorry.

19 October 2010

Telenor to close Ukraine office

Sad news that the official closure of Norwegian company Telenor in Ukraine has been announced. The company will close its representative office in Ukraine by the end of 2010.

Sad news for the BBCU in that we loose a client/member and an association with a great team of people.

The Ukraine business community know only too well the long long saga of the conflict between Telenor and 'a Russian company' (I do not want any legal action) concerning the ownership and control of Ukraines largest mobile phone operator - Kyivstar.

Plus the Head of the Telenor Representative office in Ukraine - Mr Trond Moe was well known and active in the business community. I must say that visiting the Telenor office in Kyiv city centre was an example to any so called 'modern thinking' company. They have one of those 'minimalist' offices, where very little paperwork is produced and the design and office furniture is classic 'scandanavian style. The team at Telenor are smart people.

We wish Trond and his team all the best for the future and we also hear that Telenor may offer jobs to those who are interesting in working for Telenor outside Ukraine. Not many companies would do that. Telenor has been and probably always will be a good example of how business is conducted in Norway.

17 October 2010

Ukraine to sell Ukrtelecom by tender on 28 December 2010

It has been a bit late in coming but at last it would appear that the Ukraine state telephone company - Ukrtelecom, will be sold by the end of the year.
Many will say that it should have been sold years before when there was plenty of interest in telecom companies.

The government State Property Fund intends to raise approximately UAH 10.1billion (USD 1.3billion) but many restrictions have already been announced to try and keep the assets in 'Ukrainian hands' and not allow a foreign investor to get hold of the company.

The company does not perform so well. Probably due to the fact that it is a state company.
A few years ago a well connected friend told me that the reason why Ukrtelecom failed to make much profit is due to the fact that the directors were too busy planning schemes to steal money from the company. Many a true word......

On inspection of our most recent home telephone bill from Ukrtelecom, I notice it was the grand total of UAH 157 for one month (Thats about GBP12.50) The most expensive call on the list was a 4 minute call I made to Sri Lanka which cost me UAH 15.21 (GBP1.20). Even in business most companies use mobile phones and unfortunately Ukrtelecom is not one of the major players in the mobile market. But the jewel in the crown is that Ukrtelecom is the only company in Ukraine that has a 3G license, so the bidder(s) have something to aim for.

Whoever becomes the successful bidder, lets hope they decide to take Ukrtelecom forward and develop the business into a real player in the market. One idea would be to bring fixed line telecoms to many Ukrainians who still do not have a fixed line to their homes. There are many people living in villages who started using mobile phones before seeing any fixed line phones.
Plus it would be a great advantage if the vast majority of Ukrainians could get connected to the internet via Ukrtelecom, or perhaps I am just dreaming too much.
The vast majority of internet users are still based around the capital Kyiv and the other five major cities.

See: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/business/bus_general/detail/86382/

BBCU Discusion Group on Linked In

We have a group of people who share discussions via Linked In.
Do you think we should organise a special face to face meeting for this group?
see: http://polls.linkedin.com/p/106684/eyecf

To sign up to our group see: http://www.bbcu.com.ua

Does the UK need an Immigration Cap?

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, one of the UK governments own advisory committees claims that the UK Immigration restrictions are already causing problems for UK firms. What I find most interesting are the comments from DT readers on-line.
See the article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8068745/Immigration-cap-is-bad-for-UK-business-say-government-advisors.html#dsq-content

Who are the Members of this Professional and Business Services Group?
I list them here:

Sir Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive, UK Trade and Investment
Andi Case, Chief Executive, Clarksons PLC
David Cheyne, Senior Partner, Linklaters LLP
Mark Dawkins, Managing Partner, Simmons and Simmons
Philip Dilley, Chairman, Arup
John Griffith-Jones, Chairman and Senior Partner, KPMG LLP
Steve Ingham, Chief Executive, Michael Page
Laurence Longe, National Managing Partner, Baker Tilly
Michael Mainelli, Chief Executive, Z/Yen
Chris Mullen, Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons
Stuart Popham, Senior Partner, Clifford Chance LLP
Ian Powell, Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Vicky Pryce, Chief Economic Adviser and Director-General of Economics, BIS
Babloo Ramamurthy, Towers Watson, Regional Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa
Christopher Satterthwaite, Chief Executive, Chime Communications
Nick Shepherd, Managing Partner, Drivers Jonas Deloitte
Ken Shuttleworth, Senior Partner, Make Architects
Jonathan Taylor, Managing Director of Financial Services, HM Treasury
Susan Taylor-Martin, Managing Director and Senior Company Officer, UK and Ireland, Thomson Reuters
Simon Whitehouse, Managing Director, Management Consulting–Financial Services, Accenture

16 October 2010

British Humour

The British Daily Telegraph newspaper has recently published a book containing some of the best reader’s letters they received but never published. They are a great example of British humour at its best and in many ways I think those of us who read newspapers on line, tend to look at the readers comments with more interest than the news article.
Although it is very much a ‘British Thing’, many other nations still fail to understand our humour. Here are some of them. Enjoy

In praise of progress
SIR – My first thought on seeing your headline, “Pupils to be taught about sex at seven” was, “What, in the morning?” When I was a child, the school day began with prayer. But you can’t stop progress.
Peter Homer, Highworth, Wiltshire

SIR – I’ve often wondered whether Britain’s education system is in a state of decline. Then I visited Google and started to type, “Can I get…”. Before I finished my query the first suggested search in the drop-down list appeared: “Can I get pregnant from a dog?”. Now I know.
Robin Whiting, Castle Rising, Norfolk

SIR – A current West Sussex NHS advertisement on the back of a bus states: “You are twice as likely to have unprotected sex after heavy drinking”.
Another pint, please, landlord.
Robert Price, Haywards Heath, West Sussex

SIR – There is a brilliant and simple solution to the controversy over racial profiling at airports. All passengers will be required to step into a booth that scans for explosive devices and automatically detonates any device found. Harmless individuals will be released immediately after being scanned. Muffled explosions, contained within the booth, will be followed by an announcement that a seat has become available for standby passengers.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
Robert Readman, Bournemouth, Dorset

SIR – The EU states that a small calf transported by rail must be afforded a space of between 0.3 metres and 0.4 metres squared in which to travel.
I was wondering to whom I should write to complain about the fact that my feet didn’t touch the floor for 45 minutes on the 15:44 to Sevenoaks from London Bridge last night.
S.B. Sevenoaks, Kent

Tanned Tony
SIR – I don’t believe you should judge a man by the colour of his skin, but in the case of Tony Blair I’ll make an exception.
Ralph Berry, Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire

SIR – Anyone feeling slightly envious on learning the extent of Tony Blair’s wealth should console themselves by remembering that he’s married to Cherie.
Lawrence Fraser, Elgin, Moray

Sporting figures
SIR – Whose idea was it to stage the World Cup during the cricket season?
Mary E. Rudd, Pevensey Bay, East Sussex

Radio gaga
SIR – What on earth is going on at Radio Two? We’ve got Graham Norton sitting in for Chris Evans in the morning, and Dale Winton covering Steve Wright in the afternoon. It’s as camp as a row of tents.
Throw in Alan Carr for Ken Bruce next week and we’ll have a full-on jamboree.
Steve Brennan, Glenmavis, Lanarkshire

People in Government Steal Money !!!!

Oh yes they do....

Well no surprises here for the vast majority of the population in Ukraine. In fact it’s well known that ALL people connected to the Ukraine Government are expected to be involved in stealing money. It’s a way of life in Ukraine. But what is interesting this time is that the new government has brought in a team of lawyers and investigators from the US to conduct an audit on some of the ‘suspect activities’ of the previous government in Ukraine. In a nutshell, the team of ‘investigators’ looked at six cases ‘in depth’ involving the pure theft of state money and also the misuse of state funds authorised by the previous Prime Minister – Yulia Tymoshenko during her term of office.

The team of investigators from US firms Trout Cacheris PLLC, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Kroll Inc produced a report this week which claims they have evidence to show how certain departments from the previous government in Ukraine were involved in the theft of state funds and/or the misuse of state funds during the period 2008-2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

So for the first time in the history of Ukraine, people have a step by step explanation of some of the situations in government where people have been involved in stealing money from the state budget with EVIDENCE. Admittedly all this is just evidence, yet to be produced in a court of law (if ever it gets that far). But it’s a major step forward towards demonstrating some of the acts of theft/fraud that have been taking place for many years here in Ukraine, but the majority of people have been powerless to do any thing about..

Unfortunately, many of the companies used in the process of ‘stealing’ this money are British registered companies. Not that ‘Brits’ are involved, but companies registered in England & Wales and also in Scotland used by foreign nationals as ‘Shell Companies” or legal entities purely designed for money laundering purposes.

Registering a British company is still very easy and quick and without any real checks on who is behind these companies. I suspect that HM Inspectorates are busy chasing ‘Brits’ for other reasons. But that’s freedom and democracy for you.

Anyhow the report provides interesting examples of how money has been stolen from the Ukraine State Budget. Including:

One case where 27 vehicles were purchased at highly inflated prices at GBP 1.8million.
Another where the government pre-paid in 2009 for 22,000 tons of sugar at GBP 20 million and as at today only 5,000 tons have been delivered.

In 2009 again, the Ukraine government received Euro 320 million for the sale of ‘Carbon Credits’ under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and how the previous government failed to use these funds for environmental projects but used the funds to support the State Pension Fund.

In another case the Ukrainian Ministry of Health was involved in the purchase of 1,000 vehicles from an Austrian company, the later organised a line of credit with an Austrian bank for the same government department involving very high fees involving Euro 100 million where the Austrian company was the sole supplier of goods.

Again in 2008-9 the Health Ministry was involved in the purchase of ‘Medical Equipment’ to the tune of GBP 29 million where items were purchased at highly inflated prices.

A full copy of the report can be seen here.

14 October 2010

What we don't need is more doom and gloom

According to the data released by the Office for National Statistics, U.K. unemployment claims rose for a second month in September. It is the biggest increase in eight months. Jobless benefit claims rose by 5,300 from the previous month to 1.473 million which exceeded the median forecast of 23 economists for an increase of 4,500. Overall unemployment in the quarter through August fell by 20,000 to 2.45 million, led by 16 to 17 year-old people.

The claimant-count unemployment rate stayed at 4.5 percent in September. The unemployment rate in the quarter through August measured by International Labour Organization methods slipped to 7.7 percent, the lowest since the three months through May 2009. Unemployment would have risen if it excluded 16 to 17 year olds. The unemployment rate compares with 10.1 percent in the euro region, 9.6 percent in the U.S. and 5.1 percent in Japan.

Weekly pay including bonuses rose 1.7 percent in the three months through August from a year earlier, while excluding bonuses, pay increased by 2 percent, according to the released data. The released report shows that the economic recovery may be weakening and highlighted the extent to which private sector firms could also be hit by the cuts.

The U.K. Treasury’s fiscal watchdog predicts the loss of half a million jobs in the public sector by April 2015 due to the government budget squeeze. Unions representing more than 6 million workers voted in September to coordinate industrial action in a campaign to stop the cuts. The government will next week announce, how its plan to reduce a record budget deficit will affect individual departments.
In a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accounting firm said spending cuts could result in 1million job losses. The Office for Budget Responsibility has said that 600,000 public sector jobs could be lost as the government cuts spending.

As I said…doom and gloom.

13 October 2010

Top Employers in the UK

The following companies are 56 of the leading employers in the UK, each offering graduates a work environment of opportunity, development and reward.

These companies have been scientifically researched according to 11 key areas of HR best practice, and based on this, have achieved an international standard of people management excellence.

The certified Britain’s Top Employers for 2010 are:

A4e Limited – www.a4ecareers.com

ARM Ltd - www.arm.com/employment

AXA UK - www.axa.co.uk

Barchester Healthcare Ltd - www.barchester.com

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP - www.blplaw.com

Bite Communications - www.bitepr.com

BPP Group – www.bpp.com

CMS Cameron McKenna LLP - www.law-now.com

Denton Wilde Sapte LLP - www.dentonwildesapte.com

DLA Piper LLP - www.dlapiper.com

Flint Bishop LLP - www.flintbishop.co.uk

G4S plc - www.g4s.com

HCL Technologies - www.hcltech.com

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust - www.heartofengland.nhs.uk

Homes for Haringey - www.homesforharingey.org

Hydrogen Group Plc - www.hydrogengroup.com

IBM UK Ltd - www.ibm.com/employment/uk

IG Group Holdings plc - www.iggroup.com

Informa - www.informa.com

Information Management Group - www.imgroup.com

Integralis Ltd - www.integralis.com

JD Wetherspoon PLC - www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk

John Wood Group PLC - www.woodgroup.com

KFC UKI - www.kfc.co.uk

London & Quadrant Housing Trust - www.lqgroup.org.uk

Lonza Biologics plc - www.lonza.com

LV=- www.lv.com

Matchtech Group - www.matchtech.com

McCann Erickson London - www.mccann.co.uk

McCann Manchester - www.mccannmanchester.co.uk

McDonald's Restaurants - www.mcdonalds.co.uk

Merck Serono - www.merckserono.com

Metro - www.metro.co.uk

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - www.moorfields.nhs.uk

Muller Dairy UK Ltd - www.mullerdairy.co.uk

NH Hoteles - www.nh-hotels.com

Natures Way Foods - www.natureswayfoods.com

NCC Group plc - www.nccgroup.com

Ofcom - www.ofcom.org.uk

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust - www.oxleas.nhs.uk

Peter Brett Associates LLP - www.peterbrett.com

Quest Diagnostics - www.questdiagnostics.com/uk

Reliance Security Group - www.reliancesecurity.co.uk

Rider Levett Bucknall UK Ltd - www.rlb.com

RM Education plc - www.rm.com

RPS Group PLC - www.rpsgroup.com

Sacker & Partners LLP - www.sackers.com

Saffery Champness - www.saffery.com

Shaw Trust - www.shaw-trust.org.uk

Sybase (UK) Ltd - www.sybase.com

The Co-operative Group - www.co-operative.coop

TNT UK Ltd - www.tnt.co.uk

Travis Perkins - www.travisperkinsplc.com

UNITE Group PLC - www.unite-group.co.uk

Weightmans LLP - www.weightmans.com

ZenithOptimedia - www.zenithoptimedia.com

The Britain’s Top Employers project is a unique combination of HR policy-based research, certification and promotion.

All participants have completed a comprehensive research programme called the HR Best Practices Survey, designed to give deep insights into a company’s performance across 11 key areas of HR practice.

These include Talent Management and Engagement; Communication; Employee Development; and Reward and Recognition.

Participants in Britain’s Top Employers are evaluated on criteria that are then used to benchmark their performance with peer group organisations.

This detailed benchmarking exercise highlights areas of relative strength and gives HR professionals and senior executives valuable insight to their employer brand.

I wonder when we can start making lists like this in Ukraine?

UK property market on 'knife edge' as estate agents warn of house price falls

A total of 41 per cent more estate agents expect values to fall, compared to 38 per cent the previous month and the lowest level since March last year.
Prices are expected to drop following a sharp increase in the numbers of properties being put on the market for sale amid insufficient demand from buyers.
The percentage of estate agents who reported a rise rather than a fall in new instructions jumped to 22 per cent in September, up from 12 per cent the previous month, according to the latest housing survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The fresh influx of property to the market combined with a lack of buyers remains the key problem affecting the sector. First-time buyers are in particularly short supply as the high deposits required by lenders prevent them from taking their first steps on the property ladder. Without sufficient demand property prices continue to slip back. It’s very much a buyers market at the moment.
It comes after Britain’s largest mortgage lender Halifax said the price of the average home in Britain had fallen £6,000 in a month to £162,096.
The situation is even worse here in Ukraine. Very few banks are prepared to provide mortgages, but those that do are demanding very high deposits and then high interest rates.

The state of most economies can be judged by the situation in the property market.
We have a long way to go yet.

12 October 2010

Why Can't Common Sense Prevail?

On my recent visit to London I decided to fly with Wizzair, the only low cost operator between Kyiv and London (Luton). On the oubound flight from Kyiv to London I carried just two small bags (one bag for clothes and one small briefcase) but no luggage to check in. I always try to travel light to avoid long queues at baggage reclaim. So no problems, check-in was easy and my bags all weighed less than 10kgs as per the requirements of Wizzair.

On the return journey, London Luton to Kyiv, I was suprised on the different check in 'rules' applied by Luton Airport. i.e 'Only one item can be carried on board as hand luggage'.
The check-in girl tells me "You must check-in your other bag and pay the GBP 26 extra" "otherwise you will be sent back by the secuity staff". What choice do I have?

Question? "Why does an airline operator have different rules at different airports? Or are the rules determined by the airport?" Second Question? "Why am I penalised for carrying a second bag even though the two bags together still weight less than the 10kgs carry on allowance?"

More important question "Why don't airline operators weigh ME, surely I weigh MORE than the two bags together and maybe as a result of my trip to London I am returning some few kgs overweight after all the food I consumed in the city?"

Surely, the easiest way of determining how much a passenger should pay for weight is to weigh both the passenger and his/her luggage together and then decide if they are under or over the weight allowance for each passenger. But no..... this would be too easy or maybe against the 'human rights' of those who are 'weight challenged'.

I miss those days when common sense used to be the norm. Ah well, I'm sure they will never return

04 October 2010

UK Immigration Cap - For and Against

As the impending UK immigration changes are set to be implemented, the debate continues as to how it will affect the country as a whole.
The temporary cap has been established at 24,100 applications between the months of June 2010 and April 2011. The permanent cap is currently thought to be below 100,000 annual applications by the next election. The implementation of an immigration cap, both temporary and permanent, has spurred a country-wide debate between business leaders and top Government figures alike.
London Mayor Boris Johnson is one of the many who have taken action against the implementation of an immigration cap. "Early indications are that the imposition of an interim limit on non-EU economic migration is already causing business significant recruitment problems" stated Mayor Johnson in a letter to Home Secretary Teresa May. Within the aforementioned letter, Johnson stressed that too low a cap will "put the economic recovery at risk" and that even the temporary cap on non-EU immigrants is already causing problems for businesses within the UK.
Mayor Johnson, however, continued his argument by calling the Government to rethink their policy as the leading companies within the UK are "unanimous in their position and hostile to the proposal." He went on to say: "they warn that the limit will damage small, medium and large businesses, prevent inward investment, talent and trade opportunities coming to London, and thereby materially damage London's competitiveness."
Business leaders have also widely opposed the immigration cap being placed at such a low amount. A spokesman for the employers' body stated that the cap "places an immediate disadvantage on UK based businesses as they seek to win international business, and in doing so need to deploy internationally sought-after talent. This is the worst of all times to constrain business in its ability to access the skilled global talent it needs to support this growth".
The Government stated that it wants to bring immigration levels back to the levels of the 1990s, but also wants to focus on attracting the very best of the best to drive economic growth within the UK. The proposed cap is also meant to address the pressure on public services, infrastructure and regain public confidence in the Government's immigration system once again.

UK Visa Fees to increase again soon

The UK Boarder Agency (UKBA) has announced that there will be an increase to immigration and nationality application fees coming the fall of 2010. The increase will affect all those who are looking to visit, study, work or migrate to the UK.

The regulations to set UK visa application fees at or below the cost of processing are subject to negative procedures within the parliament which would have the fees increase from October 1, 2010. If the application fees are set above the processing costs, then this would involve an affirmative parliamentary process, which would then have the increase in fees come into effect starting in November. The latter would be subject to parliamentary timetabling.
The UKBA has stated that the decision to increase the fees will be properly reviewed and managed in order to not only to benefit the UK, but also to help maintain secure border control and to continue the UK's ability to attract tourism and much needed Skilled Workers.

Stronger Checks by UKBA ?

I flew into London last Friday night and witnessed the longest queue for passport control I have ever seen. It took me over one hour just to get through passport control. The UKBA did announce that things may be slow due to them now making 'stronger checks' on those wishing to enter the UK. Most of the people in the queue were UK and other EU passport holders and as you can imagine they were not happy about the long delays. To make matters worse the UKBA computers systems were not performing so quickly, providing another excuse for delays.

I'm sure most people will agree that checks have to be made, but surely things need to improve.
Not a very nice welcome to the United Kingdom advert is it?

01 October 2010

The Property Market in Ukraine 2010

Last night the BBCU held a meeting to discuss the current state of the property market in Ukraine.
We heard from experts from DTZ, CBRE and NAI Pickard about the 'Investment Market', 'Residential Market' and 'Office Market'.

Ukraine and in particular Kyiv is experiencing a small but slight increase in property activity.
In commercial, the office and retail sectors have seen a little light at the end of the tunnel, whereas the residential market is barely alive. Its certainly a 'buyers market' now in Ukraine and there are some good deals to be made in residential. (probably for the first time in Ukraine).

However, there are far too many developments in both commercial and residential that are still 'frozen' post crisis. Banks are still not prepared to provide credit to developers or private lenders.
Mortages are only available with a 40% deposit followed by very high interest rates.
The property market in Ukraine still has a heart beat, but its certainly not sprinting down the street like it did during the past five years. Maybe this is a good thing.

I am off to the UK today for 10 days to see how things are progressing. Will keep you informed.