Ukrainian parliamentarians have adopted the first set of bills which are part of the requirements of a USD 17.5 billion International Monetary Fund programme. The changes include pension reform, gas price hikes, amendments to the 2015 state budget, new laws aimed at protecting investors’ rights, and increases to financial assistance for low income families.

One of the most debated bills was on pension reform, which passed on the fifth attempt. It includes reducing pensions by 15% for the elderly who have a full time or part time job. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuyk underlined that if a person’s monthly pension is USD 56 or less, the new law will not affect them.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister:I know that this is not the best law. We don’t have a lot of good solutions right now. We will have good solutions when we will adopt reforms and stabilize the situation in the country. When we will win, when we will stop the war and when we will end corruption.”

Costs will rise by USD 1.9 billion in the draft budget due to social subsidies for internally displaced people, according to Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko. Last month, the UN refugee agency reported that there are at least 943,500 internally displaced persons in Ukraine as result of fighting between Kremlin-backed militants and Ukrainian troops in the east of the country.

Natalia Yaresko, Ukrainian Finance Minister:We want to help increase financial assistance for almost one million people who were forced to leave their homes as a result of the war in the east.

Ukraine’s parliament also raised taxes on production to 70 percent for gas companies, a move which affects only two state-owned enterprises. Overall Ukraine consumed over 42 billion cubic meters of gas last year, with supplies from private companies accounting for just 3.3 billion cubic meters of that figure.

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