(President's press office) - Victor Yushchenko believes Ukraine has achieved economic stability in the past seven months and says GDP growth, low inflation and increasing incomes are among the main indicators of the country’s economic health.
The President stated: “Our society now takes the stability of the national currency, the absence of debts in the budget sector and growing salaries and pensions, which are now higher than the living wage, for granted. This happened despite numerous market stresses and serious domestic challenges.”
He thinks it is too early to say if the team led by Viktor Yanukovych performs poorly or well but the achievements of the past several months will help it preserve all the positive changes.
The Chief of State is, however, worried about some economic tendencies, particularly the negative balance of trade, but claims it is not the fault of the incumbent government.
“We have been approaching this result for fifteen years, hesitantly searching for new markets and introducing economic reforms slowly,” he admitted.
Yushchenko commends ex-premier Yuri Yekhanurov and his cabinet for initiating anti-dumping investigations and attempting to settle trade arguments at the beginning of the year.
“I think these severe but necessary measures will help overcome or at least considerably minimize the impact of the problem,” he said.
The President insists that, although parliament has enacted many WTO bills and Ukraine’s major political leaders have confirmed their will in the National Unity Pact, members of parliament pass the most controversial bills to join the World Trade Organization.
“I am ready to hold a meeting on WTO membership and activate negotiations with our key partners in Brussels and Washington,” he promised.
Yushchenko is also anxious about the third coal mine accident this month.
“It has been said thousands of times that we pay a huge price for introducing no reforms in the sector. Without a systematic approach, no extra funds will help resolve the safety problem (By the way, the Zasiadko mine is a paragon of safety.) First scientists and experts should formulate an ideology to reform the industry and give us answers whether it is expedient to mine at such depths and how we can ensure the safety of miners to protect them from methane leaks, etc. There are thousands of nuances to be considered and studied,” he said.
The President promises to sign a budget aimed at reforming and developing the country.
“The budget must be a tool of national development, not a means to distribute resources. Such an approach is wrong and faulty. In the draft budget I see no mechanisms to end the trade deficit and support the national industry,” he said.
Yushchenko is convinced the budget should be consistent with national priorities.
“The citizens of Ukraine want the security and defense system to function efficiently. They want incorrupt justice and accessible and affordable medicine and education. In other words, they want to be confident in their future. The budget should perform its major function of being the engine of the country’s development,” he opined.
Although the President supports the initiative to improve the investment climate, he is afraid “these billions will be used non-transparently.”
“It means the society will never know where this money goes, and Ukraine will lose it. I am thereby convinced we must accumulate investment resources before developing a transparent and logical mechanism of their distribution,” he said.
Yushchenko calls on the government to act consistently.
“You cannot twice override the president’s veto of the law on the moratorium to raise energy and transport prices, secretly cutting social expenses. I will sign this law and sincerely wish you to implement it, first considering the new budget reality,” he said.
He also criticizes the cabinet for its privatization policy, seeing no logic in it and wanting them to explain why they choose to auction this or that company.
“This list has lots of barely attractive companies for investors. At the same time, key companies, which should be private and boost budget revenues, belong to the state. Doesn’t that happen because state interests are being replaced with private interests?” he asked.
The Chief of State is going to discuss inappropriate staff rotations with the Prosecutor General, the State Security Chief, the Interior Minister, and governors. He believes governors should cooperate with representatives of local councils but their partnership must be honest and responsibility equal.
As far as the central government, he hopes the bill on the cabinet of ministers will be enacted soon.
“This is one of the requirements in the National Unity Pact, whose observance should be discussed not in the government building but publicly. The existing draft undermines the principle of the separation of powers. It does not say how the head of state should interact with the executive branch, and the executive branch with the judicial branch. […], he complained.
Yushchenko believes the new quality of economic stability should be supported by political stability, particularly by mechanisms of interaction between the president and the government.
“I categorically declare that the process of introducing
constitutional reforms must not be associated with the usurpation of power. We
need an efficient mechanism of interaction. As a guarantor of the Constitution,
I have to preserve balance in government and society. I hope we will
compromise,” he said.
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