President Victor Yushchenko on Friday spoke at the Ostrog Academy in Rivne region to spell out his social agenda, President's press office reported.

“I am deeply worried that the income of thepeople is falling, labor migration is growing, problems of the disabled areignored and the population is declining,” he said, urging the government to use Ukraine’s 8% GDP growth for the benefit of the nation.

Yushchenko suggested raising the minimum wage to UAH 500 (USD 100) from January 1, 2008, and said it was “extremely necessary” to increase salaries to budget employees.

He demanded that the cabinet introduce a single salary scale. “If we introduce a single salary scalefrom 2008, this will help increase this year’s salaries by 68%,” he said, adding that teachers would then earn up to UAH 1,360 per month and surgeons up to UAH 1,550.

Yushchenko said it was important to give a 20% pay rise to teachers, doctors and other professionals living in rural areas and encourage university graduates to work in villages.

The President then demanded that the cabinet must double salaries to the military and introduce pension reform “so that pensions in Ukraine should depend on two factors only – working experience and previous salary.”

Yushchenko reiterated his demand to increase financial aid to mothers having their second child to UAH 15,000 and child aid by 50% to improve the country’s demographic situation. He also suggested raising stipends to orphans to UAH 1,050.

The President said he would insist all these proposals be included in next year’s budget and called onthe country’s political forces to unite to resolve social problems. He said his social initiatives had no relation to politics and this year’s election campaign but were a response to the government’s failure to offer "integral approaches" to improving social standards.


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