September 20, 2017 / 9:35 AM / 10 months ago

Ukraine PM vows to speed up Naftogaz reform

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said he guaranteed that reforms at state-run gas firm Naftogaz would not be derailed, responding to the resignation of its independent board over alleged obstructions by the government.

The logo of the Ukrainian national joint stock company NaftoGaz is seen outside the company's headquarters in central Kiev, Ukraine, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Some of Ukraine’s Western allies have expressed concern over a decision on Tuesday by the remaining members of Naftogaz’s supervisory board to step down in protest at the “derailing” of reform.

In a meeting with his cabinet, Groysman said he was committed to modernising Naftogaz, including by “unbundling” its production, transport and sales businesses.

“I guarantee that the reforms will be continued and sped up,” he said.

The government has taken steps to improve Naftogaz’s finances and boost transparency in the graft-ridden energy sector.

But the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), whose loans help Naftogaz buy gas from Europe in winter, has warned that reform progress is too slow.

Both the United States and British embassies called for the prompt appointment of a new, professional and independent board for Naftogaz.

“The fact remains Naftogaz is being hindered in realizing its potential as a profitable strategic asset,” the British embassy said in a statement.

“It is important that future Supervisory Board Members are independent and transparently appointed, that the Ukrainian government actively supports the reform process and that Naftogaz is allowed to move forward.”

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Louise Heavens

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