Scores of activists from 'Credit Maidan' rallied outside the National Bank of Ukraine building in Odessa to challenge the fiscal policies of the central bank and government, Monday. The protest was an open mic event, allowing local residents to talk about the effects of financial policies on their everyday lives. Ukraine is undergoing the structural adjustment of its economy, under conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The agreement brokered with the Ukrainian government requires the state to pay $8 billion (€7.2bn) of its $19 billion (€17bn) sovereign debt from its central bank reserves. The rest of the debt has to be paid through the country's budget. Ukrainian authorities want their creditors to write-down a proportion of their debt. The so-called 'haircut' has, however, not been approved by bond holders, despite the effect that the conflict in the east of the country has had. Since the outbreak of conflict in 2014, the Ukrainian economy shrank by over 18 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The IMF have changed their projected contraction rate of the Ukrainian economy to nine percent, a four percentile shift from five percent, taking into account the instability of Ukrainian finance. The IMF's loan requires Ukraine to cut pensions, raise the retirement age, reduce the state budget and remove subsidies for households, which could see the price of energy for homeowners increase four-fold. Ukraine has to pay around $10 billion (€8.9bn) to service its debt this year. Protesters in Odessa, led by speaker Ruslanа Bakshtaeva, questioned "how they [the financial authorities of Ukraine] imagine a pensioner can live on 1150 hryvnia per month (€49), when he is due to pay 700 hryvnia per month (€30)."
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