UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT GRUDGINGLY SIGNS 2000 BUDGET. Leonid Kuchma has signed the 2000 zero-deficit budget bill passed by the parliament last month, Interfax reported on 8 March. In a letter to the parliamentary speaker and the premier, Kuchma said he signed the document because it was the result of a compromise between the parliament and the government. But he noted that the budget "does not fully take into account the financial strategy" presented in his annual address to the parliament. According to Kuchma, the budget is "abnormal" because it provides for subsidies to all regions, excluding the city of Kyiv and Crimea. Moreover, the budget "does not provide the necessary preconditions to considerably reduce the tax burden" on the production sphere. Kuchma also expressed his concern over increased expenditures, compared with last year's budget. JM