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KIEV, March 13 (Itar-Tass) — Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov has instructed the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to clarify the macroeconomic development indicators for 2012. On their basis the Finance Ministry will develop corresponding changes to this year’s budget, the government’s press service reported on Tuesday. The purpose of the changes in the budget is the implementation of social initiatives of the President of Ukraine.
At an enlarged government session on March 7 President Viktor Yanukovich presented a number of social initiatives to improve the living standards of vulnerable population groups. State expenditures on the implementation of the proposed measures are estimated at 16 billion hryvnas (2 billion US dollars). In this connection, Prime Minister Azarov set the task “to draft a bill on amending the law on the state budget for the current year by the end of March,” so that the parliament could approve the amendments, and from May 1 (six months before the parliamentary elections) the implementation of the new social policy could be launched.
According to first deputy head of the presidential administration Irina Akimova, “about 16 billion hryvnas, excluding the cost of the mortgage loan program, are needed for the implementation of the president’s initiatives this year.” Of this amount, about 10 billion hryvnas will be spent on raising pensions. Part of the funds to cover these expenses are to be obtained from the introduction of the wealth tax and the adoption of the law on the liberalisation of the mining operations market. The Ukrainian president also proposed to introduce mortgage lending at 2 - 3 percent annual interest for a number of categories of citizens. The opposition and independent experts doubt that the social initiatives will be implemented in practice, regarding them in the context of the country’s parliamentary elections scheduled for late October.