Counting the Cost

Ukraine: The East-West tug of war

As tension continues in Ukraine, we analyse why the country remains economically torn between Russia and the EU.

It was the bloodiest week in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history. The president fled, an opposition leader left jail after three years and, with the dust now settling, a clearer picture is emerging about the dire state of the country’s finances.

Ukraine’s political crisis began with the economy; ousted president Viktor Yanukovich wanted to align with Russia, while his opposition was looking to Europe – which prompted what almost amounted to a bidding war.

On the Russian side, Moscow had earmarked $15bn to inject into the Ukrainian economy.

The European Union had offered just $800m and while Ukraine would get great access to EU goods and services, it would not actually be able to get its own products into the continent.

Things are now worse, as Ukraine says it needs $35bn over two years, and Standard & Poors says the country, the central bank and its state-owned oil companies have about $13bn worth of debt to repay. Although it has $18bn in reserves, that is not enough to run an economy.

On this week’s Counting the Cost, we look how Ukraine remains torn between Europe and Russia and which side offers the best deal. We speak to Dmirty Sologoub formerly an economist with the IMF, but now head of research Raiffesien Bank Aval in Ukraine.

Nigeria’s ‘missing money’ 

In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the central bank for “financial recklessness and misconduct”.

Sanusi had earlier exposed all sorts of corruption in Nigeria’s oil industry, alleging that $20bn had gone missing from oil sales.

Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege in Lagos, Sanusi said the money that disappeared in the last 19 months was supposed to be given to the central bank by the state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

His allegations mean losses in public money could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The ex-governor says he will not be surprised if he is jailed for speaking out.

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers. Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of state revenue, although as little as one percent of Nigerians are thought to benefit from the wealth.

Many people we spoke to in Abuja about Sanusi’s ouster told us they thought the missing money might be used to fund election campaigns. Nigerians go to the polls next year to vote in presidential elections. But Sanusi thinks the public money may have already been squandered.

Ndege also spoke to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s finance minister.

Over-fishing in Indonesia

In Indonesia, over-fishing is depleting fish stocks. The government has introduced marine-protected areas, but for some fishermen that is not enough.

They are using increasingly aggressive means to put fish in their nets, and food on their tables. Many fishermen, who wish not be identified, admit they use explosives.

Despite using desperate measures they still cannot compete with the big boats catching all the fish. They also now have to travel a lot further to find tuna.

Millions of Indonesians are dependent on fish for their income and nutrition. The government has introduced measures to make sure fish populations will grow back, but this might be too little too late. With aggressive fishing techniques not being banned, traditional fishermen have only a slim chance to pass on their skills to the next generation.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Benoa, Indonesia.


Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more  Counting the Cost

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