Ukrainian Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko yesterday escalated the psychological pressure on officials whose organizations are in arrears on taxes. Pustovoytenko notified directors of enterprises and heads of regional and local administrations that tax debtors would be subjected to punitive measures in the following progression: dispossession of their service automobiles, withholdings from their salaries, administrative fines, impoundment of their personal liquid assets and criminal prosecution. He went on to warn that tax-debtor enterprises and organizations face confiscation of assets and forced bankruptcy proceedings. The prime minister added that he has two even more draconian measures up his sleeve and will disclose them shortly.
In addition, Pustovoytenko announced that the Cabinet of Ministers and its staff have “decided” to turn 50 percent of their monthly salaries over to the Pension Fund, and that the government is about to “propose” to all civil servants in the country to do the same.
According to Pustovoytenko, state enterprises and organizations currently owe 3.1 billion hryvnyas (approximately US$1.5 billion) to the Pension Fund alone. The situation amounts to forcing pensioners to support the state through massive interest-free credits, he angrily commented. He announced that he has tasked the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Security Service to assist tax authorities in enforcing the measures.
The psychological effect of Pustovoytenko’s announcement could only be enhanced by the chosen setting. It is a walled-in civil defense camp, where the prime minister has summoned some 500, mostly tax-debtor officials, put them up in tents, and provided a field kitchen for the duration of what is being billed as a civil defense exercise. Pustovoytenko launched this campaign at the August 5-August 7 government session during which he briefly sequestered almost 2,000 officials. (Ukrainian agencies, August 12; see the Monitor, August 6 and 10)
KOCHARIAN SENDING HIS PRIME MINISTER TO AZERBAIJAN.