KIEV, July 21 (RAPSI) - The Ukrainian government has offered residents of Crimea pension payments if they opt out of Russia’s benefit payment system, the government website said on Monday. Crimea has been a Russian territory since March of this year.

According to the press release, the pensions in question offer payments for the second quarter of 2014 that would be recorded as international wire transfers at post offices.

The Ukrainian Finance Ministry is forecasting an economic retraction of up to 6.5% this year with annual inflation as much as 19%. Ukraine’s budget, passed last January, was based on 3% GDP growth and 4.3% inflation. In late March, the budget was adjusted for the rapidly deteriorating forecasts.

The new Ukrainian officials – specifically, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – announced in late February that the country’s treasury was empty and that extreme cost cutting was necessary. As a result, the budget was severely slashed through the reduction of several social welfare programs.