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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Nixes Government Perks Until Worker Wages Paid Up

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has cracked down on state employers by forbidding them to renovate their offices or take foreign business trips until they pay back wages.

Ukraine's reformists hailed the move Wednesday, while Communists in parliament attacked it.

Kuchma's decree, published Tuesday, was his latest effort to tackle the country's mounting payment crisis and eliminate the 177 trillion karbovanets ($700 million) debt to pensioners and workers in the huge state sector.

Employees, including doctors and military servicemen, regularly face wage delays of several months.

The decree forbids major office repairs, the purchase of new vehicles, office equipment or furniture, foreign business trips, and holiday-related activities in the workplace until the debts are paid. It also applies to government officials, including the Cabinet of Ministers -- but not the president himself, who was in Armenia on Wednesday.

Economics Minister Vasil Hureyev on Wednesday blamed the wage delays on declining production and lack of budget discipline at state enterprises and tax evasion.