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Ukraine Becoming Poorest Country in Europe Amid IMF-Mandated Austerity

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Starting in 2017, Ukraine will have the lowest official salaries in Europe, according to calculations by lawmaker Oleksander Vilkul. Meanwhile, Ukrainian politicians and economists have begun investigating the conditions attached to the IMF’s recent $1 billion loan tranche, and are discovering that more austerity reforms are the order of the day.Taking to the podium in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, Vilkul complained that for ordinary Ukrainians, “life is getting worse and worse. A good example of this is the genocidal budget for 2017: The minimum wage of $60 [1,550 hryvnia] is the lowest in Europe. In 2013 it was three times higher.”

The lawmaker also noted that the government plans to further reduce social benefits, while further hiking utilities prices, all under the guise of Ukraine’s obligations to the International Monetary Fund. “We are for international cooperation, but this should not entail consequences such as an increase in the retirement age, and the growth of utilities rates and [consumer] prices. Our men live an average of 65 years. Do you want to make it so that they die immediately after retirement?” Vilkul asked

Last week, the IMF agreed to provide Ukraine with a $1 billion loan tranche, increasing the country’s total external debt to $68 billion (71% of its GDP). However, many Ukrainian economists and lawmakers are more concerned about the conditions of the latest loan. On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko accused Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman of signing the IMF memorandum without reading it. The memorandum, she said, was written only in English, which Groysman does not know
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