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SBD Global/November 9, 2012/Facilities

Euro 2012 Helped Boost Infrastructure In Host Countries Poland And Ukraine

Deadlines "can have a galvanising effect on procrastinators, as happened with Poland and Ukraine under the pressure of this summer’s European football championships," according to Olearchyk & Cienski of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Poland’s entry into the European Union in '04 "resulted in large injections of EU structural funds, but bureaucratic muddle meant that it took a long time to take advantage of improved circumstances, while Ukraine, outside the EU, and buffeted by political and economic crises, struggled to find the cash." What got both countries moving was Euro 2012 and "the possible int'l humiliation if visitors from across the continent were faced with a transport debacle." Under pressure, "the infrastructure of both nations had the biggest facelift of all countries in eastern Europe and beyond." Ukraine Deputy PM Boris Kolesnikov, in charge of infrastructure said, "We built five brand new airports in 18 months." Through a $5B government spending spree on infrastructure ahead of the tournament, thousands of kilometers of Ukrainian roads were repaved. A handful of modern passenger trains purchased from South Korea’s Hyundai "rolled on to the railways, cutting travel times within the country by more than one-third." Private investors "pumped about $1B into building hotels." Ukraine’s billionaire oligarchs "also spent part of their fortunes building some of Europe’s best football stadiums." With the rush of preparing for the tournament now over, new construction has slowed, but Poland "wants to continue building, seeing infrastructure projects as a way of stimulating demand in a difficult macroeconomic environment" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/8).
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