Ukraine`s Verkhovna Rada on Thursday passed a bill in first reading to boost budget support of state-owned coal mines in Ukraine in 2017 by UAH 1 billion ($US38.8 million), to UAH 1.25 billion ($48.5 million).
Bill No. 4744 on amendments to the 2017 national budget was supported by 244 lawmakers with the required minimum being 226 votes.
”This bill provides for the allocation of UAH 1 billion, which will help settle, among things, the issue of coal miners` wages debts,” author of the bill, MP Mykhailo Bondar said.
In his words, the source of funding will be unused assets of local budgets of the temporarily occupied areas.
At the same time, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Finance Ministry said that the spending stipulated in the bill is unrealistic.
According to the explanatory note attached to the bill, the funds to be allocated will be used to cover coal production costs, including wages. The recipient of the financial support will be state-owned coal-mining enterprises in Ukraine.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukraine`s government earmarked UAH 1.8 billion in the draft budget for 2017 for financing the country`s coal industry. In particular, the funds are expected to be spent on coal restructuring and support of coal miners.
Early in June, Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor Nasalyk stressed the need for subsidizing state-owned enterprises from the budget to cover high coal production costs.
The 2016 budget did not provide subsidies for state-run coal mines. However, on March 31, 2016, the parliament decided to redirect UAH 250 million out of UAH 350 million allocated for coal mines` restructuring into subsidies, and another UAH 100 million was earmarked for the construction of coal mine Novovolynska No. 10
The Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry earlier reported that wages debts in the coal industry as of November 1, 2016, were estimated at UAH 661.1 million ($25.65 million).