Over the past five years, Ukraine has become the poorest country in Europe with low salaries, low pension payments, and tiny allowances for socially sensitive groups of people. This was announced by OPPOSITION PLATFORM — FOR LIFE MP Serhiy Lovochkin. He said that under current poor rates of economic growth, Ukraine has no chances for rapid increase of people’s incomes, overcoming of poverty, and improving social justice guarantees.

“Over the past five years, poverty has become widespread in Ukraine. Today Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe, with GDP at $2,960 per person in 2018. Neighboring Moldova has its GDP at $3,227 per person. The worst in this situation is that the total poverty has become a permanent situation, and acting government’s policy is aimed at strengthening of it. Under current low rates of economic growth, Ukraine has no chances for rapid increase of people’s incomes, overcoming of poverty, and improving social justice guarantees,” Lovochkin stated.

The politician cited the Ministry of Social Policy data: in 2018, poverty level among employed people (when they are paid under real cost of living) was 21.8 percent. The minimum salary of 4,173 hryvnia as of early 2019 is still lower than the real cost of living for employable citizens, set at 4,425 hryvnia. In USD equivalent, the average salary dropped from $408 to $326 over the past five years.

“However, this salary, however tiny by European standards, is not for all. Recent data show that between January and September 2018, the unemployment level reached 8.6 percent among people aged 15–70. In 2013, it was at 7 percent,” Lovochkin said.

The MP cited official data that the level of unemployment remains higher in Ukraine compared to neighboring countries and the EU average. In Q3 2018, unemployment level among people aged 15–70 reached 8 percent in Ukraine, while 5.7 percent in Poland, 5.1 percent in Slovakia, 4.8 percent in Russia, 3.9 percent in Romania, 3.6 percent in Hungary, and 2.2 percent in Moldova. At the same time, unemployment among young people (aged 15–24) is almost two times higher from the economic average. It reached 17.5 percent between January and September 2018 for this group.

“However, the potential unemployment level in Ukraine is much higher. This explains why so many workable Ukrainians are leaving abroad for seasonal works. Experts estimate the number of migrant workers from Ukraine at 4–6 million people, and the most recent data by the Social Policy Ministry says it might reach 9 million people. This situation is a catastrophe for any country that cares about its future,” Lovochkin said.

“This can only be changed by responsible politicians taking office. We should stop fighting Odnoklassniki and The Irony of Fate and start fighting poverty. By reaching peace in the country and making economic development the priority of the state policy agenda, we can bring the poverty down,” the politician summed up.