KIEV, Nov. 23 – Parliament will hold an emergency session Thursday as lawmakers seek to override a presidential veto to force the National Bank of Ukraine to print one billion hryvnias to fight the flu epidemic.
President Viktor Yushchenko vetoed the bill on November 16 citing inflationary concerns. He also argued the government must cut other spending or borrow money from commercial banks to make funds available for the anti-flu efforts.
But the plans for the emergency session suggest the government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is not intending to cut budget spending and will instead press for the monetary emission.
“This time… the Tymoshenko Bloc calls for the emergency session to override the veto on the bill that provides one billion hryvnias to the Healthcare Ministry,” Oleksandr Lavrynovych, deputy speaker of Parliament and a member of the opposition Regions Party, said Monday.
Support from at least 300 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament is required for the legislature to override the veto from the president, which means pro-government lawmakers have to join forces with the Regions Party for the successful vote.
The bill was originally backed by 401 lawmakers on November 3 when the flu epidemic had been gaining momentum and spreading quickly from western regions of Ukraine to eastern regions.
But the epidemic has slowed down considerably over the past seven days, with many regions re-opening schools this week and lifting other anti-flu measures that had been introduced by the government.
The Regions Party has earlier indicated that it would back the government’s request for one billion hryvnias to be printed by the NBU, although criticizing the measure as financially wrong.
The government already spent 500 million hryvnias on the flu, including on purchases of Tamiflu, the only medicine that is known to help remedy the swine flu.
Tymoshenko earlier this month estimated that the government may need up to 3 billion hryvnias for the anti-flu measures, but the scale of the epidemic had slowed down that may reduce demand for the funding. (nr/ez)