Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has decided to leave the supervisory board of JSC Ukrzaliznytsia.
"Since June 2018, I have served as an independent member of the Supervisory Board of Ukrzaliznytsia, the state railway. I have been grateful for the honor and served to my best ability, but at present, I feel compelled to resign," he wrote in his column for KyivPost.
Commenting on the reasons of the decision, he said that the legal risks he was being exposed to excessive.
"Although we were promised directors’ and officers' liability insurance in our appointment agreement, which is a standard for board membership, we have not received any such insurance from our shareholder, the Ukrainian government," he said.
In addition, the Swedish economist said that many of the decisions of the supervisory board are not being implemented by Ukrzaliznytsia management.
"Nor does the government give Ukrzaliznytsia reasonable regulatory or financial conditions to modernize and become efficient (unjustified land tax, tariffs set far under cost level, insistence on massive overstaffing, etc.). These circumstances leave the company in a precarious financial situation," Aslund said.
He also said that members of the supervisory board of Ukrzaliznytsia have not been paid anything since April.
"After five months of salary arrears, I find it unlikely that the current Ukrainian government will pay any supervisory board members any remuneration. It started with President Volodymyr Zelensky's speech in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine.s parliament, on March 4… But he did impose a minimum wage in a populist manner. At the end of April, the Verkhovna Rada amended the budget law, capping salaries of all public employees as well as members of management and supervisory boards of state-owned companies at 10 times the official minimum salary, or UAH 47,020, or about $1,700 a month, from April 1 until the end of the quarantine. It was presented as a temporary emergency measure, but it has already lasted for five months and might persist," he said.
"Worst of all, it discourages competent and honest people to work for the Ukrainian state and it is an attack on good governance. Servant of the People members of parliament attack foreign members of supervisory boards of state-owned Ukrainian companies for being foreigners and having been paid too much, but we have been paid nothing since April," he said.
He said that the fundamental problem is that the president and his loud MPs don't believe in good corporate governance.
"We foreign members of the supervisory boards of 13 big state-owned companies and banks have been working hard to try to improve Ukraine’s state companies. From the president (the only Ukrainian president that I have never met), we only receive insults and obstacles," Aslund said.
"To conclude, I feel neither wanted by the shareholder nor offered viable working conditions, while the legal liability is mine. This is no way to run a railway," he said.
Aslund was appointed a member of Ukrzaliznytsia's supervisory board on June 20, 2018.