22:53 30.01.2009

Yuschenko demands immediate amendments to 2009 budget to save Ukraine's economy – televised address to nation

Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko demands immediate amendments to the national budget for 2009 and points out to Prime-Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's personal responsibility for the economic situation in the country.

"On behalf of the whole nation, I demand that the government and parliament immediately prepare a fair budget where the outlays will correspond to the capabilities of the economy. This is your constitutional, state and political duty," he said in a televised address to the nation broadcast on Friday night.

"I emphasize – all the responsibility under the Constitution for the economic situation, for the disruption of the budgetary process, for the destruction of the banking system lies upon Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko," he said.

"Having reached the critical point, she won't be able to hide in the opposition," he said.

The president also called on Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn to consolidate parliament for amending the budget and passing urgent anti-crisis measures.

Yuschenko also urged all the lawmakers belonging to the parliamentary majority not to support Tymoshenko's populist policy.

The Ukrainian president again blamed the premier for unfair for Ukraine gas contracts.

"Ukraine will have to pay UAH 25 billion more for gas in 2009 than last year. However, NJSC Naftogaz Ukrainy's revenues for transit services will remain at the level of 2008," he said.

Yet, he added, the premier is well aware that additional resources for payment of the gas could be found only through the domestic market, only through an increase in prices for consumers.

Yuschenko named the national budget prepared by the government and the parliamentary majority "a castle in the air".

"As of today, the government has failed to collect even half of the amount of taxes and dues planned for January. The cause [behind this] is the same again: the unrealistic budget," he said, noting that his conclusions are based on the evaluation made by Ukrainian Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk.

"A minister's opinion is decisive in preparing estimates at any country," he said. "Today he is not heard, first of all by the government."

According to the president, Tymoshenko knowingly "foresaw unrealistically high numbers and promises into the budget." "The funds, including those meant for the next repayment of [defaulted Soviet-era] savings, are not concentrated, they are dispersed," he added.

Yuschenko said he believes that what happened around the National Bank of Ukraine in parliament is a "real mess." "No doubt, there was one purpose – to get access to printing money in order to cover the gap in the national budget," he said.

"This may lead to a unprecedented inflation. This may end with a social catastrophe," he added.

At the same time, the Ukrainian president urged the nation to remain calm. "You will be safeguarded," the president pledged. "We are able to protect both the country and the nation. The most important thing now is to find a political will and courage, and approve a realistic budget for 2009."

"In order to achieve that I will utilize all necessary levers used amid the crisis," he added.