The overriding agenda item of the Government session held on April 17 was the results of the work of the Government over three years from the date of its appointment. The figures, reforms directions and trends were presented by Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman.
Addressing the ministers, meeting participants and media outlets, the Head of Government emphasized that three years ago, the main priority of his work was to halt the economic downturn as well as to start economic recovery and major overhaul of the country aimed to solve the problems accumulated over the decades, and thus to eliminate the barriers to introduction of a new one quality of life.
"Our priority was and remains to make Ukraine a strong, economically developed country, where everyone - both the children and senior citizens would feel comfortable and safe. I want to thank my team, the Parliament, the President for the fact that we have overcome the challenges faced. We kicked off a lot of changes", the Prime Minister said.
The Head of Government divided the presentation of the results into several sections. The first one is the social protection of the military. According to the Prime Minister, this sphere became of utmost importance because the chance to build a successful Ukraine was provided by the Ukrainian soldiers. That is why the defense sphere is a priority for the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. In this context, the Head of Government recalled that the support for the service personnel has almost doubled in three years, and in some categories of those who provide the interests of defense and security of citizens increased in 2-3 times. 5,7 thousand apartments were given to service personnel and new modern hostels are being built.
"Housing programs in terms of financial lease were kicked off. We transferred 130 thousand land plots to participants of the anti-terrorist operation", Volodymyr Groysman stressed.
The second section is macro-financial stability and economic growth as a prerequisite for implementing support programs, in particular, social ones. Steady growth has been recorded over the recent years and the fastest growth was recorded in 7 years. The rate of inflation has slowed down, and in the same time in 2018 for the first time in the last 5 years there was an unequivocal number - 9.8%. The hryvnia exchange rate since 2015 remains relatively stable. At the same time, the national debt has decreased from 79% to 60.9% of GDP.
"In this context it is necessary to praise also business, entrepreneurs, we managed to ensure the economic growth to the tune of 8.4%. This is the right direction. And we know that we must ensure more biggest growth. The economic development gives an opportunity to improve the life standards", the Prime Minister said.
The next step is to increase the incomes of working citizens. Thus, the growth of average monthly wages in 2016-2018 annually exceeded the growth rate of prices in 2-3 times. Today’s agenda is to secure a competitive level of wages in the country in order to protect the country from labor migration. And this is possible, including, due to the deshadowing of salaries and employment.
For three years in the dollar equivalent, the minimum wage has tripled. And this is not bravado in numbers. I understand that we need to move faster, "the Prime Minister stressed.
"Minimum salary in Ukraine has tripled over the last three years in dollar terms. And this is an evidence-based argument. However, I understand that we need to move faster", the Head of Government said.
The issue related to incomes is inextricably bound up with the construction of a fair pension system. "This is one of the most sensitive topics. In 2014, the pension system was in decline. For years, nobody has been recalculating pensions. We changed the system - passed legislative changes, carried out recalculations and introduced an automatic recalculation of pensions. I am convinced that every year our pension system will become more stable and fair", Volodymyr Groysman underscored.
According to the PM, social initiatives necessitate the transparent filling of the state budget, and thus effective counteraction to corruption. What has been done in this direction? The system of public procurement has been changed - a positive effect amounting UAH 63 billion, new approaches introduced in the management of the public sector, as well as a system of transparent auctions, automatic VAT refunds, the whole array of deregulation decisions approved, and electronic services implemented.
The Head of Government focused on the key reforms of recent years. And among those is an educational reform. Over the past two years, almost UAH 7 billion have been invested in the new quality of education. The money has been directed to didactical materials, modern furniture, computer hardware for the New Ukrainian School (NUS), the raising of qualification of teachers for NUS, the purchase of school buses, equipment for science and mathematics classrooms, Ukrainian-language didactic materials for schools with the national minorities language of education, cars for inclusive centers, the purchase of the equipment for sports complexes in secondary schools, providing the Internet connection in secondary schools as well as inclusive education.
"When we see a new standard of education, we see a teacher, children who pay interest to the process of learning. This means that we invest money wherever they are needed", added the Prime Minister.
The second reform is the reform of the healthcare system. "This is the sector in which for many years they shed all responsibility, while the Ministry of Health was perceived as a ministry for the purchase of expensive equipment. We decided that this topic is critical to us. It's impossible to change this area in one day. But in a few years people will feel positive changes", the Head of Government noted. The PM noted that 27 million citizens have already chosen their doctor, medical institutions have switched to contractual relations with the National Health Service of Ukraine (NHSU), and salaries of doctors have increased. "On the agenda is the start with the projects of emergency medical care reform, the start with the program of free diagnostics, we are to buy angiographs for the network of cardiological centers, which are repaired at the expense of local budgets. We provide free stenting procedures", informed the public Volodymyr Groysman.
Important changes have occurred in the area of preservation of culture and national memory. The Head of Government noted spirituality and culture are the basis of the country, and therefore it is impossible to finance these areas by residual principle. "We are already producing a high-quality film product, we have purchased more than 1.5 million copies of Ukrainian-language editions for libraries", said Volodymyr Groysman. "We have begun to build the second stage of the Holodomor Victims Memorial. It will be a modern platform for immortalizing innocent victims."
The Head of Government also touched on the issues of large-scale infrastructure modernization. The Prime Minister agreed that the condition of our roads, transport infrastructure as a whole, the networks is far from perfect. However, each year the situation is improving. The Road Fund has already been set up, more than 6 thousand kilometers of roads have been restored, the state-run giant Ukrzaliznytsia has been modernized - already 7 thousand freight cars have been manufactured, and the passenger traffic of airports is growing. "When infrastructure is used competitively and effectively, we are growing. We have the potential and will play a key role in the project New Silk Road from Europe to Asia", the Prime Minister stressed.
One of the most successful reforms of recent years, according to Volodymyr Groysman, is the decentralization reform. In April, the reform marks 5 years since it was introduced. "We have triggered not just the growth of local budgets, but also provide state support. We made it possible for people to take their own decisions about where to spend money. Over 2016-2018, we helped build more than 11 thousand new facilities - educational, health care, CASPs, cultural and infrastructure objects, sports", said Volodymyr Groysman.
The Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that it is time to continue the initiated changes and adopt systemic decisions.
"I believe that if we focus on problems in an appropriate way and adopt and realize the correct decisions, we will succeed. We will never tolerate that someone considers us losers. If the solutions are systemic and clear, the results will not be long in coming. A lot of interesting is ahead for us. And the main thing is Ukraine is not just a spot on the map, but a large country that is obliged to succeed", summed up the Prime Minister.