Ukraine President Hails New Government's First Budget

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Sunday signed off on Ukraine's 2008 budget, which he hailed as proof that the country's razor-tight parliamentary majority was functioning effectively.

Viktor Yushchenko toasts Yulia Tymoshenko.

"This is the first serious result of cooperation between the president of Ukraine, the democratic parliamentary coalition and the new government," Yushchenko said in comments published on his website.

Yushchenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko secured passage of the budget through parliament on Friday, 10 days after being elected prime minister with one vote to spare in parliament.

Yushchenko's Our Ukraine and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc together secured a narrow majority of seats in September elections to unseat their Russia-backed rival Viktor Yanukovych from the prime minister's office.

Tymoshenko said a 2008 budget deficit of 18.5 billion hryvnias (3.66 billion dollars, 2.5 billion euros) would be financed in part by privatisations, the Interfax news agency reported.

The budget envisages income of 215.36 billion hryvnias (42.6 billion dollars, 29 billion euros) and expenses of 235.43 billion hryvnias (46.6 billion dollars, 31.7 billion euros), the news agency reported.

The budget is based on GDP growth of 6.8 percent and inflation of 9.6 percent, Interfax said.

Source: AFP

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