President Victor Yushchenko insists that the government must be “highly professional and realistic” when drafting next year’s budget and more careful and accurate in its macroeconomic projections, according to the President`s press-office.

“2008 budget hearings are an important political and economic issue. I am convinced we have all chances to learn good lessons from what we have been doing this year and what we have failed to do in the area of economic motivations, in fiscal policy and especially in the social sector,” he said in a speech to open a session of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on Tuesday.

Yushchenko demanded that the country’s budget deficit must not be higher that 2% of GDP. “This must become a rule,” he said, urging the government to make local budgets more independent by finding additional sources of revenue. “This can be income tax, license fees or taxes on the use of natural resources and other sources, which are expected to bring up to UAH 30 billion in 2007.”

The president also demanded that the government must ensure there is enough money in next year’s budget to implement strategic national programs, which have been insufficiently funded this year. He said these were the programs to develop the Ukrainian language and the national book industry, preserve the country’s cultural and historic heritage, buy school buses in rural areas, computerize schools, help the disabled and build new border-crossing stations. “This is an extremely important task, especially in the context of the Euro 2012 soccer finals,” he said.

Yushchenko asked Ukraine’s governors to decide what sectors of the economy and programs should become their “priority number one” in the 2008 budget.