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Ukrainian Parliament Issues Aid After Floods Kill 30


Ukraine - Floods Uzhorod 30Jul2008

Ukraine - Floods Uzhorod 30Jul2008

KYIV -- Floods in western Ukraine have killed 30 people after five days of rain caused rivers to spill over into villages and farmland, officials said as parliament earmarked the region $1.2 billion in aid.

Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Shandra announced the death toll in a specially convened parliamentary debate. Figures earlier this week said 22 had died, including six children and two people struck by lightning.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told the chamber 18,000 residents had fled their homes.

The assembly altered the 2008 budget to approve the assistance to western regions.

A senior minister described the flooding as the worst in a century, with the Prut and Dniester rivers rising to dangerous levels.

After a six-hour debate, deputies combined elements of three proposals, including documents submitted by Tymoshenko and by President Viktor Yushchenko, to add 5.8 billion hryvnyas to the budget, about 2.5 percent of the budget approved in February.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, allies during the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought pro-Western liberals to power, have been at odds over a long list of issues since Tymoshenko was appointed prime minister for a second time last year.

Most of the funds came from higher than expected revenues from value-added-tax receipts and import duties.

More than $200 million was channeled to a fund to buy grain direct from farmers to avoid falls in local prices. The floods had little effect on what is likely to be a bumper grain crop of 43 million tons against 29 million last year.

Deputies also endorsed a decree issued by Yushchenko declaring six regions "emergency ecological zones".

Parliament made no examination of other amendments to the 2008 budget to take account of higher-than-expected inflation, currently running at just below 30 percent year-on-year. These will be considered in September.

In neighboring Romania, four people died in floods in the northeastern county of Maramures. The Bucharest government put up 50 million lei ($22 million) this week to rebuild damaged infrastructure and provide aid to affected villagers.
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