Ukraine economy minister resigns citing stalled reforms
Ukraine's Lithuanian-born Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius abruptly submitted his resignation Wednesday citing his inability to push through vital restructuring measures needed to get growth in the cash-strapped country on track.
"Today, I made the decision to submit by resignation from the post of minister of Ukraine's economic development and trade," Abromavicius told reporters in Kiev.
"The reason is the sharp escalation in efforts to block systemic and important reforms."
Abromavicius and Ukraine's US-born Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko were both appointed in December 2014 as part of pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko's efforts to infuse fresh blood into the war-shattered country's attempts to return to growth.
Kiev's US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt tweeted moments after the shock announcement that Abromavicius was "one of the Ukrainian government's great champions of reform...and a believer in the future Ukraine's people deserve."
The resignation comes in the midst of growing parliamentary displeasure with Poroshenko's government and infighting between various political interests that are tied to powerful business tycoons.
Abromavicius said some political forces were "taking steps aimed at paralysing our reforms".
He further accused unidentified but influential people of "trying to establish control over financial resources -- first and foremost those of the Naftogaz (state oil and energy company) and the defence industry."
"I refuse to work in such a system," the 40-year-old former banker said.
"I and my team are not ready to provide cover for the restoration of old -- and the creation of new -- schemes (built) in the interests of particular political and business players."
The corruption-riven former Soviet nation has been one of Europe's worst economic preforms since winning its independence in 1991.
A report issued last month by Transparency International showed Ukraine occupying 130th out of 167 place on its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2015.
Initial government estimates show Ukraine's economy shrinking by 10.4 percent of gross domestic product last year.
Abromavicius's resignation must still be approved by parliament.
It was not immediately clear when a vote on his decision will be held.
© 2016 AFP