In his radio address to the nation, Victor Yushchenko said he would sign a law on 2006 state budget next week, the President's press office reported.

The President thanked all who were involved in “making the major financial document of the country realistic and balanced.” He added that the voting had “clearly demonstrated that in parliament there are forces which support the Ukrainian people and parties which are primarily concerned with their election campaign.” Yushchenko said he was surprised at the reasoning of the parties that did not support the budget.

“Parliamentarians do realize that the government will not be able to raise minimum wages and pensions and to fund a range of important social programs without this document,” he stressed.

“One can oppose the government but one must not oppose Ukraine. All political forces must remember this,” Yushchenko said.

The Head of State added that he hoped responsible political forces would come to the Verkhovna Rada after parliamentary elections and would be able to slightly change the budget to make it more balanced.

“However, no social program will be reduced,” he pledged.  

Commenting on the budget itself, Victor Yushchenko said the state would not interfere with the economy in 2006, and opined that it was the major advantage of next year’s budget.

“This is a very important result before the election campaign,” he stressed.

The President said the budget would help raise the minimum wage and pensions to the disabled and Chornobyl invalids. At the moment, the minimum wage is UAH 332 (USD 65) but by the end of 2006 it will be UAH 400 (USD 80), while the minimum pension will be raised to UAH 366 (USD 70). Pensions to the disabled and Chornobyl invalids will be increased by 2.5 times.

The Head of State added that the government had also managed to balance the funding of local budgets, coal industry, and agriculture.  The agrarian sector will receive UAH 10 bln, “the record share of the state budget,” to credit farms and to gasify villages. They plan to computerize schools and to equip local hospitals. The budget will also help reduce taxes.

“In 2006, we will incorporate all social taxes in one tax. I will not support any law that raises taxes,” he stressed.

They are also going to fund education and medial programs to fight TB, AIDS, cancer, and heart disease. UAH 600 mln will be spent on energy saving programs and UAH 100 mln will be given to the State Mortgage Fund to provide cheap thirty-year credits to Ukrainians to buy houses.

The President described the budget as balanced, which might help reduce the inflation rate, but said it was not ideal. He opined that the 12.9-billion-hryvnya deficit potentially impeded the implementation of the budget.

“But I will demand that central and local governments should implement the budget irrespective of any political weather,” Yushchenko pledged, stressing that mostly entrepreneurs could help fill this shortfall. “That means regional officials must create favorable conditions for business.” 


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