The Ukrainian government plans to cut billions from health worker training, education, science and culture budgets through rapid state budget reform measures as it tries to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. Recent reports by two deputies inside Ukraine’s parliament, Alexei Goncharenko and Inna Sovsun, also revealed plans to divert spending from many regional budgets, including renewables and energy efficiency projects.
Ukraine is on lockdown until 24 April and in the midst of this growing pandemic, the Government plans to stop funding all training for new doctors, according to People’s Deputy Inna Sovsun. Over UAH 7 billion hryvnias (US$250 million) will also be cut from cultural programmes and a further 5 billion from crucial Science and Education budgets, according to Former Minister of Education and Science Anna Novosad.
Ukrainians are starting to ask why, and to demand better.
“Our new government is making fools of the whole country by continuing to pour billions of hryvnia into our dying coal industry. This “golden subsidy” plays its own role in killing people by propping up an industry that puts workers in harms way and pollutes the air, water and soil for all Ukrainians. Now is the time to put an end to it” Energy expert and climate activist, Oleg Savitsky
“Instead of subsidizing an industry in rapid decline – Ukraine’s coal demand fell by 25% in the last year — the state should support our mine workers directly and help them through this crisis to transition into work that’s healthier for them, and for the whole planet in a time of climate crisis. But no, our Government continues to plunge us further into the abyss with its crisis spending plans” says Savitsky
350.org in Ukraine believes that cutting spending on culture, education and science, instead of subsidies to damaging industries like fossil fuels is unacceptable. The choices being made today will set back Ukraine’s society, health, economy and environment for decades to come.
Emergency State budget reforms must take into account how to pave the way for a Just Recovery for all Ukrainians in the wake of this COVID-19 crisis.
Let’s get our priorities right and put people’s health and the public interest first, with social and environmental justice at the heart of any response plans. We need to forward to ensure our response helps us transition to a safer, renewable energy system once we’re through this.
Ukraine needs to take the New Green Deal as a basis for its plans, as some countries are doing right now, to secure their future, social and environmental justice.
We need a global united response to this pandemic that protects what we need and value most for our shared future. Ukraine must play its part too.