For the past several months I ve been residing in a mid size city in far east Ukraine, I seen a comment on this board indicating that the Ukraine economic growth grew by 7 percent last year; therefore, the quality of life may be improving, don't bet on it! For one thing economic growth may have grown by 7 percent, but how much of that amount trickles drown to the people, none, wages haven't increased in this country, pensions for the elderly increased last year, and to pay for this a hugh VAT was placed on all imports, making many imported items out of reach for many Ukrainians. In addition, the inflation rate in Ukraine is anywhere from 9 to 12 percent, one can easily notice the cost of food increasing by the week. The middle wage in my city is about 100 dollars a month, this would mean that there are people earning much more than that, but just as many people earning less, the main complaint I hear from the locals about jobs is that they are not difficult to find here, if you want to be a waitress, cleaner, shop assistante or the like, finding a good job is a real challange, a job that garners about 150 dollars a month would be a keeper.
Life here is difficult for about 80 percent of the people, just a rough guess on my part. If one earns 500 grivna a month, aleast 130 grivnas are paid towards utilites and taxes for the flat, also a bus ride to the city center costs one grivna, this may not appear to be much but for 30 days, totals 60 UAH, which is alot for the average Ukrainian.
I found that to be amazing also. When my lady and I went shopping in the market I felt like I was in the states. No great deals on food there. Clothing was comparable in expense also. She makes about 1100 grivnas a month. Still it is difficult and she is of the better paid in Mariupol. I had to laugh a little when they said it was getting better in Ukraine. I told Larissa this story and she said not where I'm living, maybe Kiev, but not in the Donbass region. A 7% increase in wages in the states might mean something but when Inflation is high and possible going to go rampant in Ukraine, 7% is nothing. The only thing I found remotely inexpensive was eating out compared to the states which was excellent and very inexpensive with the exception of the Chinese Restaurant I got hammered at in Kiev. Oh, yeah alcohol was cheap,maybe that is why so many guys are getting drunk all day and not taking care of their ladies.
Tim & Nas
Yes there is a lot more money been made here now - it is only the few at the top that have lifestyle improvement and are getting fat off it. Tim says 80% - I say 70% are on or below the bread line. We are both guessing, but it will be close to that.
I mentioned in my coal face post, that in Kiev the Taxi Bus fares went up 100%. Today the talk is that the Mayor is putting pressure on to bring it back down. They are loosing a lot of custom to the electric Trolley bus and Trams. Went on one yesterday. No bullshit, it must have been 40c inside that Fngg thing. The windows were wet inside from perspiration. I said to my Lena – NEVER put me back on one of those Fnngg things. She said with a smile “now you have experienced Ukraine extreme !!!
The Electric Trolley Bus was crammed full because more people were using it to save paying the higher fares on the alternative transport.
A real Pussy. But the strange thing is these people just sit or stand there and don't even have sweat on their brows. I was soaked when I hoped off the bus gulping for air like a strangled rabbit !!!!!
The following article might interest some.
Many people have wondered how Ukraine achieved an amazing 12.1% growth in GDP in 2004. Well, the simple answer is they lied about it! Why invest in a partnership with a government that behaves this way, why invest in a country whose total consumer purchasing power is less than a medium sized European city, why invest in a stock market whose total capitalization is less than half of McDonalds, why?
KIEV, June 15 - Ukraine's official gross domestic product figure may have been artificially inflated last year, according to an investigation by SBU, the security service, submitted to President Viktor Yushchenko.
The findings apparently show about 30 billion hryvnias, or about 10% of the GDP reported in 2004, may have been inappropriately included into the statistics, Yushchenko said.
The data, if confirmed by the government's other agencies, may lead to a correction of the country's 2004 economic growth figure, which has been reported at a record 12.1%.
The strong economic growth statistics were widely used by then-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in his campaign to try to win the presidency in November 2004. Yanukovych, whose team was found by the courts to have manipulated the vote, eventually lost the election to Yushchenko.
Ukraine's GDP was officially reported to increase to UAH345.9 billion in 2004, while then-opposition groups had pointed to an inadequacy between the growth figure and reported budget revenue collection.
The findings are part of an investigation into a web of well-connected companies that had been apparently illegally getting reimbursement of the value added tax from the state budget.
"The job done by the law enforcement shows that about UAH5 billion in VAT reimbursement has been handled in a controversial way," Yushchenko told a meeting with government and regional officials.
When Yushchenko asked SBU head Oleksandr Turchynov to pass the list of companies that had been investigated, a live broadcast of the meeting for the press was immediately suspended.
Yushchenko's spokeswoman later said the list contains about 1,000 names, including private and state companies. No names have been released pending further investigation.
The new revelations add further stress to Ukraine’s business environment following three months of talks about re-privatization of companies that had been said to have been illegally privatized during the presidency of Leonid Kuchma.
Analysts said the investigations may be a reason for some companies to suspend investments this year, adding pressure on Ukraine’s economic slowdown
That link Ice gave above - go there. One 'back' and pick any country. Mind the date of update, and keep in mind that these are 'publishable' stats from the US Intelligence (i.e. sometimes biased).
All in all quite interesting, especially when you browse through some, then you'll get a 'feel' of how to interprete the figures.
Thunder. "Sometimes biased"?:-) He-he... Thanks them not to write that bears eat people in the streets in Russia. Take one fact and spread it to the utmost - this is the way CIA acts.
If you want my humble oppinion, I can't judge profesionally but the growth of GDP in many countries in 2004 was outstanding. Europe and USA reached their peake and it is hard to go forward significantly. For example the US government now even does not try to earn more than they spend, a billion there, a billion here - who cares, we have a lot of this shit, they think!:-)
Economical situation was very favourable here, many doors closed before opened, many markets grew, prices went up and dollar got down. So this all made that even in Belarus the growth of GDP was around 10%. And I really believe this though I am perhaps one of the most fierce protestors against the existing authorities. Salaries went up very good. You know, a doctor already receives from 240 to 550$ a month here. I very good remember that it was some 50$ ten years ago and even during the last year it was some 30% less. Looks not good.
If you ask me about the Ukraine, again may be I am wrong but I was there in October and I constantly work with people from there. What I saw was very good. Lots of rich people, luxurious cars, yahts that cost several millions each... A bad sign of decline actually.
The gap between the rich and the poor there was always much much bigger than in Belarus. They had and have free economics. So pensions are still mizerable though they made them 2 time higher in Autumn, salaries of the people involved in state sector are also low. But again I remember what it was like 5 years ago. I remember being just struck down by the powerty I saw in the streets then.
May be my impression was formed not in the right way as I was in Sevastopol at the Crimea region(sea resorts) I was communicating with well-to-do people, ate at good restaurants and in general saw life there from the window of my uncle's 2004 Subaru 50,000 worth. Still what i saw in the streets, at shops was very optimistic.
When I visitedboth Ukraine and Moldova - I was surprised to see grocery prices at relatively the same level as in American grocery stores. Of course there were exception. But the majority of prices seemed quite similar.
But with typical wages of $100 to $200 per month - people bought much less, they bought more wisely and they didn't waste ANYTHING.
THIS is why my fiance asked me if I made enough to provide things like bread, fruit, ham and cheese on a daily basis. They reason that if our wages are higher, our prices must be as well.
Of course, I assured her that I could purchase these things daily. And she seemed extrememly happy. I can't wait to take her through a big American grocery store. She is really anxious to cook if I provide the ingredients.
Since she cannot work during the first 90 days she is with me (it would have been possible - but she chose to complete the paperwork that way) she says she wants to try cooking for me. She has asked me to provide cookbooks covering both Russian and Romanian cooking (she is from Moldova and if anyone knows of a publshed Moldovan cookbook - well I haven't found it yet).
I will have beutiful 25 year old woman in my house - anxious to show me her cooking skills int eh kitchen very soon. I can hardly wait.
Being a bachelor - I eat mostly frozen things and anything on the run. I don't even HAVE a kitchen table set up. I own several but they are in storage. This will be a big, but welcomed change.
Yes, sometimes (nudge nudge.. :) , but it still makes for interesting comparisons. Also regarding the countries income, for instance your Belarus. Lots of wetlands which gives an indication of the topography also, and this was new to me.
In all informative, worthwhile.
prices of especially the so-called conveniance foods there are comparable, and this she will have to get used to. She may not want to use them mind, do it her way i.e. for you old-fashioned or cumbersome, but I'm sure you'll be fine with that.
Pre-prepared foods are abundant in the West, I hear especially in the US where for some reason time seems at a premium. Of course I also use them, but wisely only. Nothing wrong with doing it the 'old' way, but then I do like cooking in any case.
And talking of that, come on now me ol' chap, you're not really waiting for her cooking only now are you? ;-)
Thunder - actually she lived with her mother who was the queen of the kitchen. She helped with cannin and grating vegetables for salads, she told me - but I never actually saw her do it.
And when we stayed together it was always in a hotel - without kitchen facilities. Seven weeks altogether. I know many guys rent apartments in the FSU - before taking the big plunge but we didn't.
So, as a matter of fact, O don't have ANY idea if she can cook.
She teased me once - asking me if all i was looking for was a Russian woman to cook and clean for me. I told her flat out that I have now known her for nearly two years, lived with her for seven weeks and have no idea if she CAN even cook. Then I asked her "Can you?" She seemed insulted by the question.
Most recently she expressed her willingness - because she wants to eat Russian and Moldovan dishes nopt readily available in the US. And she asked me if I had (or could get) cookbooks.
To those who grew up in the US and watched the old 1960's sitcom "Green Acres" you might recall the trials and tribulations Oliver Wendal Douglas went through with his Hungarian immigrant wife Lisa as she tried to make hotcakes. They were unchewable and evidently not even biodegradable. They eventually served as roofing shingles. I've imagining similar outcomes in my kitchen at first.
Prices are really high here. Especially on food. Everybody tells that they can be compared to the US prices except for bread and some other positions that are still cheaper. How do people manage to live on a 100$ salary? Don't ask me!:-)
I can tell you guys this that as a single guy living in the states I just went to Wal-Mart 3 days ago and spent 90 dollars buying myself enough food to last about 2 weeks maybe 2 and a half weeks. Everything preprocessed. I don’t know if that is average for the states or not but it seems reasonable to me.
OK, I may be not good in numbers, have to admit that I'm very poor with them:) but as a usual person, I have to admit that after the "orange revolution" I felt like the spirit of freedome touched me:) Yes it is hard, especially in the eastern region, but for me everything became better, and for my parents:)
I don't speak only about financial aspect, but about moral aspect as well, before we were ready to escape from this region at every possible moment, and now we don't have to be so stressed:) And this is a big thing, for me:)
Until corruption stops at every level of government and the "mafia" is dealt with, life for the average Ukrainian will not improve. I live in Odessa on Rishelyevskaya Street which I call "Mafia Row" because of the many high dollar cars always parked around there. To be fair, I also call it "Aphrodosiac Avenue" because of the many beautiful women that walk by my apartment every day.
The only people doing well in Ukraine are crooked officials and the mafia. Fact of life.
OK OK I'm mafia then:) After all I live in Lugansk, and we all know what is the reputation of this city:)))
I'm not sure how it is in other cities, but here, thanks to the new governor, things change to better:) At least no shooting on the streets, nobody boasts with their money, and simple people can work too, and city's sturctures start to work better:))
Is life in Ukraine improving? I don't know but I saw clean streets and not many beggers. I saw a lot of people walking with a purpose. By the way we walked everywere. I saw a lot of imported goods in the open markets. I am sure that like any city there is good with the bad but I have seen more beggars and trash in Mexico City.