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14 July 1998
For immediate release
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PRESIDENT KUCHMA MEETS WITH VR CHAIRPERSON TKACHENKO
On July 13, President Leonid Kuchma met with the Verkhovna Rada Chairperson Oleksandr Tkachenko. The meeting, reportedly held in a constructive and sincere atmosphere, focused on a wide range of issues involving the situation in Ukraine and top-priority tasks of all bodies of power. The parliament's speaker informed about the completed formation of parliamentary governing organs, and measures taken for the parliament's structurization[sic] and organization of its further activity. An urgent need to concentrate parliament's efforts on enhancing the efficiency of the legislative process was emphasized. A mechanism of drafting, considering and adopting bills was worked out. It is based on a joint work on bills by the government, ministries, other executive bodies together with relevant parliamentary committees, deputy factions and groups, and on submission of only agreed drafts for parliamentarians' consideration during plenary meetings.
The adoption of the budget resolution for fiscal year 1999 and the specified budget for the current year were referred to as an immediate task. Mr. O.Tkachenko expressed a principal support for the recent economic decrees by the President of Ukraine, as well the President's July 10 address to People's Deputies. The two interlocutors stressed an importance of constructive cooperation, coordinated actions by the legislative and executive branches.
During the meeting the development of the harvesting campaign in Ukraine was also discussed, as well as the situation in the agro-industrial complex of the country as a whole. The necessity of the legislative support for agribusiness was stressed. The government's program of action was discussed in the context of basic economic and social tasks.
PRESIDENT KUCHMA URGES PARLIAMENT'S PROMPT ENDORSEMENT OF AMENDED NATIONAL BUDGET FOR CURRENT FISCAL YEAR
President Leonid Kuchma sent a message to Verkhovna Rada deputies to urge the Parliament's prompt endorsement of the amended national budget for fiscal year 1998. As the message says, the extremely complicated and contradictory economic situation in Ukraine has stipulated the need for the government's submission to the parliament of a draft law on amendments to the Law "On the National Budget of Ukraine for f. y. 1998." For the first time since 1989, the government's efforts have put an end to GDP's downfall, and some encouraging trends and shifts have surfaced in production and investment. Bridled inflation has resulted in preventing the Ukrainian population's incomes from further devaluation, the message says.
Yet, these trends and shifts are but too unsteady and may be reversed through adverse processes, primarily in the financial field and particularly in view of the deteriorating non-payment crisis and mounting wage arrears closely connected to the Ukraine's external and internal debts. The chronically unbalanced national budget is one of the major underlying causes, as for many years the State spent much more than it earned and made more debts than it can service. The global financial crisis has added to this, too. Last year, Ukraine succeeded in abandoning the vicious practice of coping with the budgetary deficit through resorting to emission means. However, the Ukrainian stock market, which is in the process of development, has been too vulnerable with regard to external upheavals, that have reduced its operational capacity and have brought about a sharp increase in budgetary loan interest rates. Thus, the national economy has been deprived of great part of the much needed credit resources making individual enterprises and entire industries short of finances. This has placed the national economy's stabilization processes in jeopardy and has deepened the economic stagnation, which, if the trend persists, the Ukrainian society will not bear. Reducing the 1998's national budget's deficit is one of the Government's urgent key steps. The national budget's unfeasibility was quite obvious at the time it was approved, though the parliament was reluctant to rectify the situation, which prompted the President to issue a decree on rigid austerity measures in spending budgetary means. Now, the President is counting on parliament's understanding and support for endorsing the amended national budget before the summer vacation. Problems relating to easing the tax burden and thus encouraging industrial and agricultural production are equally pressing and long overdue in solving, as well as radical improvements in managing state property. For reasons the parliament is well aware of, the President had to regulate these problems via his decrees, in line with the Constitution's Interim Provisions. To make these decrees work, it is important to put them to test through practical application, and, if need be, the Verkhovna Rada will make necessary amendments to them. In view of a very great number of draft acts and bills the parliament has stockpiled, it would be expedient to work out a relevant procedure for considering these economics-related documents following a schedule up to 1998's end. This would add to the legislation's much needed balance and stability.
The President's message also cautions the Parliament against passing legislative acts implementation of which would either require additional budgetary expenditures or cause reductions in budgetary revenues. The message suggests that the Verkhovna Rada will display a realistic attitude to passing bills which provide for expenditures other than the national budget contains, proceeding from real sources and financial regulations with a view of preventing the budgetary deficit from exceeding the acceptable limit. The message reiterates the President's wish to constructively and productively cooperate with the parliament to ensure the economic reform's efficacy and its social purport with a view of improving the Ukrainian people's living standards.
PEOPLE'S RUKH DECLARES ITSELF PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION MINORITY
Speaking at a press conference on July 13, Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil said that the election of left-wing deputies to the posts of Verkhovna Rada speaker and its deputy resulted in "creating the leftist parliamentary majority of the nomenklatura-clannish type." In Mr. Chornovil's opinion, this has frustrated hopes for creating a right-centrist, reformatory majority in the parliament, which would be able to counter the leftists' attempts to revise the attainments of Ukraine's statehood and the nation's advances toward democracy. As a party in opposition, Rukh cannot be held responsible for the present Verkhovna Rada leadership's actions. However, it urges unity of Ukraine's democratic forces, Mr. Chornovil said quoting his party's statement.
Now, seats in the Ukrainian parliament are distributed as follows: the Communist Party - 125, Socialist Party-Peasants' Party - 25, Hromada – 40, the Progressive Socialist Party - 15, People's Democratic Party - 93, Rukh - 49, Social-Democratic Party (United) - 25, and the Green Party - 25. 441 of the parliament's 450 seats are currently occupied.
THERE WILL BE NO ROTATION OF GOVERNMENT BEFORE PARLIAMENTARY RECESS
We hope for collaboration in solving economic problems, that is awaited by citizens of Ukraine, said Premier Valeriy Pustovoitenko, commenting on the election of Oleksandr Tkachenko as the parliament’s speaker. According to the premier, he had several telephone conversations with the newly elected VR chairman, which focused on Ukraine's cooperation with international financial organizations and amendments to the fiscal year 1998 state budget. Valeriy Pustovoitenko referred to these issues as the principal ones on the parliament's agenda in the near future. While for the state, as a whole, the main task is the stabilization of financial situation, he added. According to Valeriy Pustovoitenko, no rotation of the government is expected. There are about 30 vacancies for ministerial posts, said the premier, voicing hope that common ground on all vacancies will be found. Premier Pustovoitenko also informed the journalists about a session of the Cabinet of Ministers to be held on July 24 and attended by the president of Ukraine. The session will focus on the Ukrainian economy's performance during the first semester of 1998.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES THAT PRESIDENT HAD CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CREATE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
The Ukrainian Constitutional Court rule on July 9, that President Kuchma did not exceed his authority by enacting the decree "On the National Bureau of Investigation. " The relevant suit was filed by 45 parliamentarians who argued that approval of the general structure, composition, and functions of military groups are within the competence of the parliament. The Constitutional Court, however, ruled that certain provisions of the presidential decree did violated the Constitution.
LVIV INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR FOCUSES ON STRATEGIC FOR COMBATING MODERN SLAVERY
On July 9-10, a European and trans-Atlantic seminar was held in Lviv as the culmination of measures aimed at drawing public attention to the trafficking in women and girls. The seminar was organized at the initiative of the International Migration Organization, and was attended by representative of both government and non-governmental organizations from Ukraine, Poland, the US and 15 members of the European Union. The seminar discussed the results of the actions that have thus far been taken to combat this dirty business. They included simultaneous information campaigns in Poland and Ukraine, and recommendations on similar measures in other countries. According to information provided at the seminar, many women who left Ukraine in search of work abroad have either been forced into prostitution or are in situations close to slavery. The IMO has worked in Ukraine to assist both victims and potential victims of this illegal business. The organization has launched an aggressive information campaign, including documentary films and sociological polls, and disseminated information through local women's organizations, regional employment centers, and educational institutions. A telephone hot line also provides consultations.
UKRAINIAN MILITARY TRANSPORT P-LANE CRASHES IN PERSIAN GULF
A Ukrainian IL-76 military transport plane crashed in the Persian Gulf on July 13. The plane was flying en route Baku-Ras al-Khaimah-Mykolaiv. It caught fire and crashed four minutes after take-off from Ras al-Khaimah. There were 8 Ukrainian crew members on board the plane. The bodies of six people had been found as of July 14. Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry said the Soviet-designed IL-76 plane was owned by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and chartered by a commercial company. Seven crew members were Ukrainian servicemen from a military air base near the city of Uzin, Poltava region, one crewman represented the company that chartered the plane. The ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, Sheik Sakr Al Kasim, visited the site of the crash.