KIEV, Sept. 18 – Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s Regions Party may further challenge President Viktor Yushchenko by vowing to join a controversial session of Parliament on Thursday, apparently to approve the draft 2008 budget.
The development shows relations between Yushchenko and Yanukovych have remained tense and that no progress has been made since Sept. 4, when the Regions Party had defied the president by joining an emergency session of Parliament.
Yanukovych said Parliament’s session was needed to approve the draft 2008 budget, although such approval may actually come as a simple endorsement.
“It’s hard to say in which form the matter will be considered,” Yanukovych said. “However, the budget committee is preparing the draft and it will be debated at the plenary session of Parliament.”
Meanwhile, Yushchenko insisted that Parliament had been incapable since its dismissal earlier this year. He called the upcoming session a PR campaign aimed at voters, but again singled out the Regions Party for joining the gathering.
“This is free PR for the Socialists and the Communists,” Yushchenko said. “But I'm surprised by the position of such a serious party as the Regions Party that joins this show.”
“I wouldn’t like to see the Regions Party joining such shows because this party bears responsibility for what is happening in the country,” Yushchenko said.
The remaining standoff between Yushchenko and Yanukovych, which comes less than two weeks before the Sept. 30 snap election, suggests their political groups are increasingly unlikely to join forces in the new government after the vote.
The Yanukovych government last week approved a draft 2008 budget with the deficit at 2.33% of the gross domestic product, up from 2.18% that had been earlier planned.
The increased deficit comes as Yanukovych has pledged to boost social spending, a move that had been described by analysts as an attempt to win over undecided voters ahead of the election.
Yushchenko criticized the government for increasing the budget deficit, and said the deficit should be kept within 2% of the GDP.
The government forecast budget earnings at 250.2 billion hryvnias in 2008, while spending has been projected at 269.5 billion hryvnias.(nr/ez)