The Head of State said he hoped for a frank conversation, for neither businessmen nor officials were pleased with current conditions of work. He noted that they should solve a range of fiscal, regulatory and customs problems, the President's press service reported. Yushchenko admitted that illegal businesses had been thriving in the past ten years so it was quite difficult to change the situation. He reiterated that almost 45% of the economy functioned illegally, reaching 52% in some branches of industry.

“You belong to the circle of people that can develop fundamentals of confident, influential and honest policies,” said Yushchenko. “Businessmen must forge legal links with the government.”

The President stressed that he aimed to discuss ways to solve problems, eventually reaching mutual understanding with entrepreneurs. He said they should urgently develop a procedure to hold transparent land auctions, simplify existing allotment regulations, improve and unify standards, implement about six social reforms to reduce social taxes and reform customs policy.

“The government will lose if it does not reach mutual understanding with businessmen,” he said.

Yushchenko assured those present that in 2006 the government would start to develop a new fiscal policy.

In his speech, he also spoke about investment. The President said that, unfortunately, the investment rate had decreased by four times in the past nine months and was currently 7.5-7.8 %.

“In fact, there is stagnation in investment,” he said.

Yushchenko also reminded all that the economic growth had also decreased from 6.5% in January to 1.6% in August.

The President charged the Agrarian Ministry, the Economy Ministry and the State Customs Service to form a working group of experts and officials to elaborate a new edition of the Customs Code and customs tariffs. He also charged the Economy Ministry to form a group to solve problems in the car market. The participants of the meeting agreed that society should actively participate in all initiatives to come to strategic decisions to develop the economy.

Economy Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, Industrial Minister Vladimir Shandra, Customs Service Chief Alexander Egorov, Deputy Head of the State Tax Administration Boris Horbansky, Counselor to the President Kseniya Lyapina, representatives of the International Chamber of Commerce, the All-Ukrainian Dealer Association and the Ferrous Metallurgy Association and executive managers of leading Ukrainian companies attended the meeting.


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