Utility bill hikes pushes Ukrainians to further sufferings


While Ukrainians are struggling from a storm of job losses and acute economic crisis, a recent increase in utility bills is causing tremendous sufferings to them as Russia’s invasion has left millions of ordinary civilians towards extreme struggle. Ukrainians are seeing themselves in financial difficulties due to reduced income along side loss of job opportunities.

According to the National Bank of Ukraine, the annual unemployment rate in Ukraine in 2023 is expected to be 26 percent – more than double its 2021 average of 10.3 percent.

Economic losses from the war reached US$700 billion in 2022, while over 14.5 million Ukrainians fled the country altogether, 40 percent of them now working abroad – mostly in European nations and the United States.

Financial journalist Ivan Verstiuk told openDemocracy, “Very few people understand what will happen in Ukraine six months or a year from now”.

Ukraine’s combined consumer debt for utility bills already amounts to more than 81 billion hryvnias (about £1.76bn), while water rates and electricity prices are due to go up again on June 1.

That adds to year-on-year inflation of 16.9 percent as of April (and an even higher level of consumer inflation of 17.9 percent), lay-offs, loss of workplaces, downtime, forced unpaid leave, lack of work with decent conditions, forced displacement, and persistently low wages and pensions.

Currently, Ukraine’s minimum wage is 6,700 hryvnias (£146) a month and is not expected to increase this year. Ukrainians’ real-terms income fell 16% in 2022. (The National Bank of Ukraine predicts that, by the end of 2023, real-terms wages will have grown by 3.3 percent despite inflation). At the same time Ukrainians’ expectations of development of the economy for the next year as of April have worsened, according to Ukrainian polling company Info Sapiens.


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