MPs increased government expenditures and are now considering a ban on forcible collection of public utilities debts and additional measures to protect journalists in combat zones
Increase in government expenditures
Draft bill # 7523 of July 6, 2022
Cosponsors: 33 MPs with Yurii Aristov as the first signatory
Who is affected: pensioners — 10.8 mln, IDPs — around 8 mln, farms — 48.6 thousand, recipients of subsidies on public utilities — over 3.1 mln households, businesses, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, the Ministry of Finance, and communities where objects of critical infrastructure have been destroyed or damaged.
Summary of the bill:
- planned expenditures from the government budget-2022 will be increased by over ₴80 bln using additional ₴75 bln from external loans and ₴4 bln from internal loans
- the state will be able to vouch for debts of the Ukrainian Railways, in particular, loans borrowed to implement railway development investment projects
- over ₴73.3 bln will be allocated to the Ministry of Social Policy:
- ₴5.7 bln for social security payments and compensations
- ₴3.3 bln for subsidies on public utilities
- ₴32.3 bln for IDPs’ monthly payments
- ₴32.3 bln for pensions
- ₴1.5 bln will be allocated to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy to support small farmers and other agricultural producers using the grant from the European Union
- ₴4 bln will be allocated to the Ministry of Finance to support entrepreneurs under the Affordable Credits 5-7-9% Program
- ₴1.6 bln will be used on subventions for local budgets to restore objects of critical infrastructure.
What is right:
- the state will be able to pay pensions, allowances for IDPs, and other social benefits that otherwise would not have been covered due to the lack of money in the government budget caused by the economic recession and war
- it will be possible to attract loans for the Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznycia), in particular, for the construction of the Euroline section that is supposed to boost the export of Ukrainian agricultural products.
What is wrong:
- the foreign debt is growing and thus annual payments increase too. However, this is unavoidable considering the ongoing war.
- taking into account that the war is far from over, the state should cut government expenditures on everything except for security and defense needs. Otherwise, in combination with other factors, there is a risk of hyperinflation that in the end will deal more damage to the population than moderate cuts of state expenditures, including the ones on social security.
Ban on a forcible collection of public utilities debts
Draft bill # 7531 of July 7, 2022
Cosponsors: 12 MPs with Andrii Kostin as the first signatory
Status: preparations for the first reading
Who is affected: persons with public utilities debts and public utility services providers
Summary of the bill: prohibits forcible satisfaction of courts’ decisions to collect public utility debts while martial law is in force.
What is right: the bill lightens the financial burden for debtors unable to pay due to the war and significant economic recession.
What is wrong:
- providers of public utility services will suffer losses that can result in their bankruptcy and inability to continue providing public utility services
- the bill bans forcible collection of debts without discretion, so even those debtors who are just unwilling to pay will be protected
- the state will have a deficit of energy sources for the heating season of 2022, so Ukrainians will have to cut their consumption of public utility services. The bill, however, does not stimulate austerity.
- to include only vulnerable groups under the bill’s protection: IDPs, people who live in combat zones, and persons who lost their jobs after the declaration of martial law. A significant part of the population still maintains pre-war living standards despite the russian aggression and economic recession. Thus, there is no real reason to prohibit forcible debt collection from all debtors.
Better protection for journalists during the war
Draft bill # 7367 of May 11, 2022
Sponsor: MP Anastasiia Liashenko
Who is affected: media, journalists
Summary of the bill:
- mass media will be obliged:
a) to provide their journalists and other employees traveling to combat zones or temporarily occupied territories with first-aid kits, body armor, helmets, and other protective equipment
b) to buy life and health insurance for journalists and other employees sent on business to combat zones.
What is right: journalists working in combat zones will have better protection.
What is wrong:
- insurance companies will not be interested in insuring life and health of journalists working in combat zones because the risks are too high
- the bill does not address the safety of journalists and media employees who work in combat zones permanently.
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