Addressing the parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko predicted that his government may have to resign and that the country would forfeit indispensable Western loans unless the legislature adopts long-overdue tax reform and a balanced budget for 1997. Blaming the legislature for endless procrastination and evasion of responsibility, Lazarenko accepted the political responsibility for the tax reform and the new budget. He strongly urged the parliament to pass the government’s draft 1997 budget and four new tax laws by the end of April in the first reading, and to authorize immediate implementation before completing the second reading and the final adoption of the package by July 1.
Lazarenko targeted the built-in privileges and loopholes which enable state enterprises in the energy, mining, and food-processing sectors to evade taxes and frustrate the government’s goal of balancing the budget. He also dwelt on the need for effective tax collection from other business activities and from citizens. Yet the prime minister indicated he would now accept legislation that would fall short of the needed "budgetary revolution," whose attainment he postponed for 1998. (Ukrinform, April 8)
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