Victor Yushchenko has told Ukraine’s local officials he will veto the revised and readopted budget again if the government fails to equate the minimum pension to the living wage, according to the President`s press-office.

“I will not give up. The pension of the poorest Ukrainian pensioner must be equal to the living wage. This position must not be discussed,” he said, adding that it was necessary to allocate “UAH 800 mln of the 160-billion-hryvnya budget for that."

The President said he had discussed the issue at today’s meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Finance Minister Mykola Azarov.

“We have not answered how to ensure the key principle of the social part of the 2007 budget, that is, the consistency of the minimum pension and the living wage. I reiterated my position. I am ready to compromise on any version [of the budget],” he said.

Mr. Yushchenko said he had sent three letters with his proposals to the Verkhovna Rada and the government. He added a joint group of the Secretariat and the Finance Ministry was now formulating mechanisms to resolve the problem.

The President suggested redistributing funds in the budget. He said the government was going to build three airports but “it must not be done at the expense of our pensioners.”

“If the state has to vouch for private companies implementing this project, I think I will support such a mechanism,” he said, adding that he also "cannot understand why the government plans to spend UAH 500 mln to establish a private pension fund.”

The President said experts claim this year’s living wage is UAH 395 and will be UAH 405 on January 1, while the budget is based on the 385-hryvnya living wage.

“This issue is principal. It is both morally and financially wrong to take away UAH 20-30 every month from the pensioners,” he said.

Mr. Yushchenko said there are two million Ukrainian pensioners whose pension is lower than the living wage and eight million pensioners whose pension equals the living wage.