UPDATE - Tymoshenko Promises To Halve Gas Prices For Ukrainians In Event Of Election Victory

KIEV (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 23rd November, 2018) Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who heads the pro-European party Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), has promised lower gas prices for Ukrainians by half in the event of her victory in next year's presidential election.

Ukrainians will go to the polls in spring to elect a new president, the race for which will officially start in late December. Tymoshenko has been leading in the polls for several months.

"Reduction of gas prices is not populism, but simply a restoration of justice ... I firmly guarantee that the price for Ukrainian gas for people in the first weeks after the inauguration of the new president will be reduced twofold," Tymoshenko said presenting a new doctrine of her party.

Tymoshenko said citing financial reports of UkrGasVydobuvannya gas production company that the cost of Ukrainian gas, including taxes, transportation and a 30-percent profit, amounts to about $75.5 per 1,000 cubic meters. According to the politician, profitability at the current price of $307.9 per 1,000 cubic meters is 400 percent.

On October 19, Ukrainian government approved the increase of gas prices for households by 23.5 percent starting November 1 in line with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under its financial support scheme. The new price is 8,500 hryvnias (over $300) per cubic meter.

Kiev has been receiving loans as part of the IMF's $17.5 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) assistance package. The loans, which are part of a four-year program aimed at reviving the Ukrainian economy, were approved by the IMF back in 2015 and are conditioned on Kiev implementing reforms aimed at improving the economy and the rule of law in the country.

The IMF announced in October it had agreed with Ukraine on a $3.9 billion stand-by agreement (SBA) for 2019.

Tymoshenko also promised to change the country's pension system and establish a special pension bank.

"We will completely change the common pension system for a personalized one. For each person, regardless of whether he is retired, in the course of seniority or at the very beginning, a private bank account will be created, guaranteed by the state," Tymoshenko said.

According to the politician, her team is preparing such a model and making the necessary calculations.

"After the elections, we will be ready to introduce a new pension system, which will be associated not with an increase in the retirement age and not with a decrease in the pension accrual rate for work experience, but with correct calculations," she said.

The law on pension reform came into force in Ukraine on October 11, 2017. Pension reform does not imply an increase in the retirement age. The reform prescribes the increase in the period of work necessary for retirement from 15 to 25 years and its subsequent annual increase by one year staring from January 1, 2018.