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Ukraine Economy Minister Resigns, Cites Frustrations

  • VOA News

FILE - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and Minister of Economical Development and Trade of Ukraine Pavlo Sheremeta, center, exchange signed documents while meeting in Kyiv,Ukraine, July 17, 2014.

FILE - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and Minister of Economical Development and Trade of Ukraine Pavlo Sheremeta, center, exchange signed documents while meeting in Kyiv,Ukraine, July 17, 2014.

Ukrainian Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta announced his resignation on Thursday, voicing his frustration at not being able to push ahead with much-needed economic reform.

Politically inexperienced, Sheremeta, 43, was appointed economy minister on February 27 in the government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, days after former leader Viktor Yanukovych was driven from office.

"Instead of continuing to fight yesterday's system, I have decided to focus on working with the people of tomorrow," Sheremeta wrote on his Facebook page.

When he was appointed, Sheremeta had vowed to slash red tape and eliminate corrupt practices that have helped to virtually bankrupt Ukraine.

But he has not managed to push substantive legislation through parliament.

Fierce fighting in the east between government forces and pro-Russia rebels has added to pressures on the economy, and caused the national currency to plunge to a record low against the dollar.

Sheremeta's offer to resign follows comments from Yatsenyuk on Wednesday that voiced dissatisfaction with the speed and depths of reforms.

Recession

Ukraine has now been in underlying recession for more than two years, with business activity contracting by 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

Parliament, which is still packed with many former supporters of Yanukovich, has managed to pass legislation on taxation and sanctions on Russia in recent weeks - but only after being bullied by Yatsenyuk, who at one point also threatened to resign over the legislature's inaction.

The post of economy minister was the first political appointment for Sheremeta, a Western-educated economist.

"There are serious and solid reasons for this resignation. ... It's a good example of how very talented, popular economic commentators, are not necessarily effective reformers," Kyiv-based political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said.

Sheremeta's resignation will have to be approved by parliament. This might be one of the last acts of the current parliament that is likely to be dissolved next week, paving the way for a new election in October.

Earlier this week, campaigning journalist turned anti-graft chief Tetyana Chornovol said she was stepping down over a "lack of political will" from new leaders in Kyiv to battle corruption.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

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