President Viktor Yushchenko has told representatives of the Donetsk Region coal industry that he will personally supervise a program to modernize the country's loss-making and unsafe mines.
In a speech in Donetsk marking miners' professional holiday on 28 August, which was broadcast in full on a Donetsk-based TV channel, Yushchenko said that artificially low coal prices mean that the mines are in effect subsidizing other sectors of the economy and price liberalization would allow them to return to profitability. He said that the recently reintroduced Coal Industry Ministry would take over management of the
He also pointed that the coal prices should be allowed to rise. The problem is the current structure of the sector, the existing mechanisms. "If miners win the price, they win the economy, they win wages, and they form the profitability of the sector. Let us recall when the last liberalization of coal price occurred. I can repeat the question. When was the coal price liberalized in recent years? This has not been done for years. Is it respect for work? Is it care for the industry? Friends, the coal sector should not be a social-based sector, which subsidizes metal, chemical, energy and other sectors. The coal industry should be self-sufficient. But if we cannot say once that the coal price should be decent, we will never solve this problem," stated President of Ukraine.
Yushchenko stated that he wanted the coal ministry to have not only formal role but also to manage the sector. "I am calling on professionals to sit at a round table and discuss theproblems of the industry. Let us hold a discussion among experts. What does the coal sector need today? Let us work out a program for 2005-2006. The minister received very specific tasks - on which I will talk later on - with very tight deadlines," explained Viktor Yushchenko.
The leader of the state pledged to decriminalize mines. "I don't want indifferent people to be in charge of the sector or territories. I don't want people with unclean hands to be connected to this sector. I don't want the coal industry to be linked to criminal-type organizations. In other words, I would like the riches that are yours - coal, mines and your professionalism - to bring you a decent reward for your work," added President of Ukraine.
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