Ukraine's 450 seat parliament yesterday approved the 2007 state budget by 249 votes to 6.
One of its more cynical directives is the exclusion of parliamentary deputy/pensioners from laws that cap maximum state pensions paid to Ukrainian citizens. Normally these are limited to twelve times minimum legal wage, or 10 thousand hryven.
The budget for maintaining the VR apparatus is burgeoning. Between the first and second reading of the budget an increase of 30 million hryven was proposed, but suddenly this increased to 60 million, up to a total of 700 million hryven. This exludes 15 additional millions for upgrade of the deputies' Crimean sanatorium " Gurzuf ", and 42 million for improvement to their private hospital in "Feofaniya". At this rate it is estimated that the cost of running the Supreme Rada, by 2008, will exceed one billion hryven.
Basic increases in the the minimum wage and minimum living allowance, which president Yushchenko had demanded in a letter to prime minister Victor Yanukovych and VR speaker Olexandr Moroz, have not be included in the budget. According to the head of the VR budgetary committee, Volodymyr Makeyenko, 5.5 Bn hryven would have had to be found for this purpose. The opposition now believe that the government coalition has left Yushchenko no other option but to veto the budget.
The 2007 budget proposes that the minimum wage is increased next July by 20 hryven - up to 420 hryven per month i.e. about $84, then to 450 hryven in December next year.
Quote from Viktor Pynzenyk - ex-finance minister: "We have a unique budget - a budget for dividing up the incomes of citizens in the interests of a small group of people. On the one hand they plan economic growth, but on the other they do not allow people to live better, even by one kopek. Even though the year has not yet ended, calculations are made based on inflation at 8.7%, even though already today it stands at 10.6%, and by the end of the year is expected to reach 14%. This means the value of pensions will drop by 8-9%, i.e. a real reduction in the purchasing power of pensioners. The same is happening amongst workers in the budgetary sphere - there will not be a 'better life' either for pensioners, or for teachers or medical workers."
And housing and utility charges are increasing two- and three-fold..
Many, if not the majority of VR deputies are multimillionaire businessmen. They consider themselves to be of a higher caste, and the laws which they pass apply to the lower orders only, and not to them.
P.S. Recently-sacked minister of the interior Yuriy Lutsenko, presidential adviser Taras Stetskiv, Vitaliy Klychko, and disillusioned NSNU VR deputy Mykola Katerynchuk were seen together is the swanky Le Grand Cafe in Kyiv, but denied they were planning a new political project or party...hmm..