TENGE FALLS BUT KAZAKHSTAN NOT WORRIED. Kazakhstan's national currency has fallen by from 77 to 79 to $1 since 18 August, but officials in the country say they are not concerned. The following day, the National Bank released a statement that there "was no real threat of a sharp devaluation of the tenge," Interfax reported. The statement noted that "Kazakhstan spends roughly 9 percent of its budget to service internal and external debts," unlike Russia and Ukraine, where "the figure reaches 35 percent." The statement also pointed out that "the currency and financial systems of Russia and Kazakhstan were divided long ago" and that the Russian ruble now accounts for "no more than 7 percent of trade settlements" in Kazakhstan. BP

UKRAINE SAYS FINANCIAL SITUATION UNDER CONTROL... In a joint statement issued on 19 August, the Ukrainian National Bank and the government said they are taking measures to ensure the stability of and control over Ukraine's financial markets, Ukrainian Television reported. The statement stresses that the situation in Ukraine is "essentially different" from that in Russia following the devaluation of the Russian ruble. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko told a cabinet meeting on 19 August that non-residents now hold 18 percent of Ukraine's government bonds, down from 50 percent last year. The bank and the government pledge to meet their domestic and foreign debt obligations, ensure a stable national currency, maintain the existing trade balance, and protect Ukrainian export-import traders. "There are no signals that Ukraine's banking system was directly affected by the Russian crisis," Yushchenko commented. JM

...BUT HRYVNYA CONTINUES TO FALL. The National Bank on 19 August lowered the official exchange rate of the hryvnya to 2.225 to $1, down from 2.18 to $1 on 17 August. Ukrainian News reported on 19 August that in the next few days the official exchange rate will exceed 2.250 to $1, which is the upper limit of the hryvnya exchange corridor set for 1998, and that the bank will cancel the corridor altogether. "Since the Russian ruble is falling, the National Bank decided it would be better to devalue the hryvnya than uphold it to the detriment of the trade balance," a financial specialist told Ukrainian News. JM

PUSTOVOYTENKO LAUNCHES 'THIRD STAGE' OF TAX COLLECTION. Following two unorthodox measures to collect tax debts-- civil defense exercises for directors of debtor companies and the seizure of cars from tax delinquents--Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko announced a third stage of tax collection on 19 August. The government is to immediately establish "tax collection posts" at all debtor companies. "The tax collection posts will exercise control over the production and sale of all output and the payment of taxes, including barter and goods exchange operations," Ukrainian Television quoted Pustovoytenko as saying on 19 August. But Pustovoytenko's unorthodox measures to collect outstanding taxes have not proved very effective to date. Tax arrears totaling 8.3 billion hryvni ($3.7 billion) on 1 August were reduced only by 5.6 percent by 17 August. JM