Every fourth Ukrainian lives in poverty

An anti-poverty struggle is continuing in Ukraine, but the rate of poverty is permanently on rise (according to the World Bank, it increased 2% in 1988 to 21% in 1998, a rather astonishing rate!). The Ukrainian government considers people with a monthly income of less than 153 hryvnas (less than $30) to be poor. Twenty-five percent of Ukrainians belong fall into this category. Twelve percent of the Ukrainian population live under abject poverty, which means their monthly income is less than 120 hryvnas. This is three times less than the living wage in Ukraine (the living wage for 2002 is 365 hryvnas for employed people and 268 for people who lost their working capacity). In fact, even the Ukrainian living wage does not provide agood life for people, as really essential and inevitable expenses are not included in the amount. At that, an average wage was 328.8 hryvnas and theaverage pension was 138 hryvnas in February of 2002. For the majority of Ukrainians, the hypothetical minimum is a factual maximum, which seldom corresponds the reality.

On the whole, Ukraine’s poverty rate was 27.9% over nine months of 2001 (no information about the 2001 annual rate is yet available).

Ukrainian Minister for labor and social policy Ivan Sokhan said last week that the ministry, together with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, and State Statistics Committee, developed a policy for estimating the complex poverty regarding regional peculiarities and submitted it to the Ministry of Justice for registration. Currently, the rate of poverty can be judged from the rate of consumption. For example, the average Ukrainian family spends 65.3% of its earnings on food, and only 19% is spent on nonfoods, while 15% goes to the payment of public utility bills.

According to World Bank data obtained with the Jinni coefficient (statistic inequality measurement), Ukraine is rated 71st among 96 countries on the income distribution index. In other words, the distribution of income is extremely unequal in Ukraine.

What does the government plan to do? It plans to struggle, but not solve the problems, either with poverty or with the poor. The Minister of Labor promises that the minimum wage will be 165 hryvnas in the second half of 2002, and if talks with trade unions and employers are a success, it may even increase to 180 hryvnas. However, the amount will not make people richer. The government does not seem so far to have any plan to raise the Urainian people’s standard of living.

Andrei Lubensky PRAVDA.Ru Ukraine

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/29/40480.html

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