Victor Yushchenko outlined the country’s priorities for 2007 in his speech to Crimean leaders on Thursday, according to the President`s press-office.

      Economic issues are high on this year’s agenda, especially improving regulatory and fiscal policies, cutting taxes and boosting competitiveness.

      “Ukraine must adopt a new tax code and formulate new tax policies,” he said.

      The President said constructive relations between government and business helped increase revenues but complained about 50% of the national economy was still illegal, according to experts. He said it was important to introduce policies encouraging foreign and home investment, which is particularly important to Crimea as one of the country’s tourist centers.

      Mr. Yushchenko said the government must increase spending on education in the next two years, particularly to help those who cannot afford to pay for their education.

      Medical reform is also among this year’s priorities. The President said Ukraine loses 71,000-74,000 people every month, most of them dying of cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and TB. He said the government was going to launch national programs to fight this diseases in 2007, calling on Crimean authorities to support them.

      He said the energy sector was Ukraine’s another priority. He added that the Ukrainian-Russian Interstate Commission must actively search for and find “mutually beneficial answers to energy questions.”

      Speaking about Ukraine’s foreign priorities, the President said we must develop ties with Russia and the European Union, and make sure that Ukraine joins the World Trade Organization this year.