Saturday, September 04, 2010

Pensions in the Bermuda Triangle

"Ukraine has agreed to make tough changes to its pensions system as part of a deal to qualify for loans worth $15.15bn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Under the terms of the deal, Ukraine will introduce a raft of measures to keep people in the workforce for longer, including increasing the retirement age. In the longer term the IMF will work with the Ukranian government to draw up detailed plans for reform." [ Source ]

And yet Ukraine has the second-shortest life expectancy in Europe. One demographer calls Ukraine "a Bermuda triangle for males aged between 40 and 60."

"Donbass" newspaper has been running stories almost daily about rapid increases in the price of foodstuffs and services

Buckwheat, a staple product in the country, has increased in price by up to 70% in a year. Further increases of 10% or more are predicted this month. Officially, speculators are to blame.

[Incidentally, if every country has its own characteristic smell, then IMO Ukraine's is the smell of buckwheat...LEvko]

Over the past two months the price of cheese and other dairy products has risen by 15-20%

Rises of over 8% are predicted in price of bread and pasta, and sunflower oil is set to go up significantly too. Yesterday's 'Donbass' publishes comparison tables showing increases in bread prices in the region.

And bus ticket prices in Donbass are being increased by about 20%

Yesterday's 'Segodnya' reports: "Bread bagettes, meat and butter may become 'elite' products" as these products are removed from lists of items whose prices are regulated by the government.

And there's trouble brewing in Mariupol following Rinat Akhmetov's Metinvest acquision of 75% of Mariupolskiy Metallurgicheskiy kombinat imeni Ilicha (MMK Ilicha)

The current CEO of MMK Ilicha, Voldymyr Boyko, retains 23% of the shares whilst a measly 2% is left for the other shareholders, many of whom are employees and members of the Independent Trade Union at the huge plant. Last Thursday a protest was to be staged directed against Boyko, but on Tuesday four top union activists were detained on, it seems trumped up charges, and their apartments and union offices raided.

Hindering law enforcement agencies from carrying out their duties is a criminal offence in most countries yet Yulia Tymoshenko publicly declared she is protecting former ministers and other highly-placed officials currently on police wanted lists from what she calls political persecution.

With 50% gas price increases and big increases in community charges looming within weeks, it could be a winter of discontent..

p.s. Watching last Friday's 'Shuster Live', the constant barracking by supporters of the ruling coalition of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, and their persistent dismissal of complaints from journalists present in the studio about challenges to free speech in the media, it's pretty clear in which direction democracy is headed in Ukraine, particularly as president Yanukovych recently boasted that Ukraine is like a big automobile...and that today there is only one driver at the wheel.. .

Shuster, at times, was not able to control the studio guests. At one point, at the end of his tether, he seems to lose it: "Gentlemen, you're ruining the country! I've worked with lots of politicians, but I have never seen such a thing [spectacle]! He shouts at one PoR deputy: "You need treatment.."

Tymoshenko may be needing that bag she claims she has already packed for prison if this carries on..

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