Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on the country’s government and the state energy firm Naftogaz Ukrainy to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to lower the household price for natural gas from May 1.
The IMF, which is helping Ukraine with a multibillion-dollar loan program, has said it wants to see Ukraine set natural gas prices at their market level.
But Zelenskiy, who has yet to take office but won a landslide election victory on April 21, said in a statement on April 24 that he wants prices to be lower.
“Let’s not just in words, but in deeds show that we can take decisions in people’s interests,” the statement on the Zelenskiy team’s Facebook page said.
“For the past four months, gas prices in Europe have been decreasing and now the price of gas for the population in Ukraine is higher than the price of gas on the European market,” it said.
The statement warned that neighboring Russia could limit energy supplies to Ukraine from June 1, and that Moscow may take steps to halt gas transit through Ukraine altogether at the start of 2020 — a move it said would result in significant financial losses and gas supply risks.
“These challenges require us to take effective and fast action,” the statement said.
An IMF spokesman was not immediately available to comment.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman said in March that he would urge Ukraine’s Finance Ministry and Naftogaz to start talks with the IMF to try to prevent any future rise in gas tariffs.
The government raised gas prices by nearly a quarter in October, allowing it to secure a new $3.9 billion stand-by aid agreement with the IMF.
Gas prices were due to rise by 15 percent again from May 1. But earlier this week the government and Naftogaz agreed to a slight decrease in tariffs. (RFERL)