We, civil society experts from the Reanimation Package of Reforms coalition, Strategic Advisory Groups, and International Renaissance Foundation, who – jointly with government representatives and international partners – take an active part in developing, promoting and overseeing the implementation of key systemic reforms, note once again the inconsistency and lack of transparency of actions of leading politicians and leaders of the country aiming at overcoming the government-parliamentary crisis. Unofficial sources quote different names of candidates for various positions in the government and offer different approaches to the formation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. However, leaders of the state have officially brought none of these proposals into the public space. The chosen tactic of backstage efforts on looking for ways to resolve the crisis continues the practice of closed decision-making and shows that the government has not learned to speak openly with the society.
We stress again that the scenario of early elections as the most typical way to solve the power crisis in democratic countries, which entails the reboot of the parliament and government, contains many risks in the current Ukrainian conditions. The most critical of those risks are the closed party lists, which are formed by party leaders and oligarchic “sponsors” in a non-transparent mode and the high risk of vote-buying in single-mandate constituencies, which has increased as a result of falling incomes of the general population. These circumstances may affect the integrity of the election results and prevent real renewal of political institutions through elections.
There are other threats that come with snap elections. Those include months of stagnation of many reforms to be undertaken by a standing government that has been denied confidence. The result is the lack of support from the international financial institutions, the risk of default, and high inflation. It is also the risk of diminished diplomatic support from international partners, including the loss of arguments for the continuation of sanctions against the aggressor. Due to the delay in resolving the crisis, elements of this attitude to Ukraine are already being felt in communication with our Western partners.
That is why we remain resolute supporters of a scenario that involves political consensus among different branches of power that are crucial to overcoming the crisis: the President and the leading political forces in the parliament. Such a consensus has to be achieved to form a non-partisan, professional government with clear technical goals and objectives, the implementation of which will be the measurement for its performance, and for political forces that form it.
We believe that the fears of political forces that they might lose voter confidence as a result of the appointment of a non-partisan government are exaggerated. Parties still have important leverage for gaining the citizens’ true confidence, primarily if they reject shadow politics and political corruption by inviting a non-partisan Prime Minister and appointing a technical government on a competitive basis (through offering one or more candidates for the ministerial positions), and then developing -together with the government – a plan of urgent steps of dynamic reforms. No one is taking away the parliamentary forces’ main function: parliamentary oversight of the government’s performance and of the effectiveness of implementation of reforms. The appointment of a non-political government does not prevent them from on-going development, jointly with government officials and the society, of the required components of public policy reforms.
Open dialogue with voters will mean openness and accountability of the parliamentary political parties. We recommend the use of a wider range of open dialogue – from regularly engaging civil society in public policy making to showing integrity and transparency of party revenues and expenditures, and a proven match between politicians’ income declarations and their real lifestyles.
Such an approach can significantly raise pubic standing of any parliamentary party and, therefore, increase the chances of success in the next election.
Choosing a scenario for overcoming the crisis is certainly the responsibility of the politicians to whom the society delegated the representation of its interests. However, as members of the society involved in designing and implementing reforms, we feel and bear a significant part of responsibility for the success of the changes, despite the resistance of the old system. Therefore, we declare our readiness to continue cooperation with the government, the parliament and the President to intensify reforms. As a first step in this collaboration, we offer a general vision of the priorities that should be reflected in more details in a new government’s Action Plan.
These, above all, are the following:
These priorities and other important steps towards overcoming the crisis have been addressed in previous statements of the experts of reforms (from February 26 and February 14, 2016). We outline them in more detail here in the proposed Action Plan for the Verkhovna Rada and a future new government of Ukraine.
We are ready to discuss the points of this proposed Plan to assist new government officials and political forces to work further on such an Action Plan for the new government, and when it is approved, contribute to its implementation as much as we can.
The appointment of a new government and the adoption of an Action Plan by the Parliament, the willingness of all political players to take joint responsibility and form a team of managers (the government) to implement the plan will become a symbol of the politicians’ ability to go beyond personal or narrow party interests for the main thing – preserving the unity of Ukraine and enhancing reforms.
When choosing a pro-active scenario – i.e., shaping the non-partisan government, ensuring that the parliamentary majority is ready to support the actions of the government aimed at implementing the provisions of the agreed action plan, we make a commitment to promote such steps in the society and in the international arena. We also commit to taking responsibility for reforming the areas that require participation of professional, party-neutral experts.
Joint work designed to continue and intensify reforms is the basis for a public strategy that is able to take us out of the parliamentary-governmental crisis, allow overcoming the crisis of confidence in the government, and, therefore, make the improvements demanded by the Maidan irreversible and felt by every Ukrainian.
Public administration reform
The first steps must be made at the stage of forming a new Cabinet. In particular: people appointed to the ministerial posts should be ready to begin implementing reforms in their sectors of responsibility immediately; the Government should introduce the positions of Deputy Prime Ministers for the Administrative Reform and for European integration; the positions of the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Minister of Information Policy should be eliminated.
The Government should be based on the unconditional separation of state power and business. Applicants for positions in the government must present their vision of reforms to parliamentary factions and the civic expert community, and receive the mandate of confidence from the new Head of the Government. Before the new Cabinet is formed, changes to the laws “On the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine” and “On Central Executive Bodies” (based on draft bill #2354) should be made.
Priorities of the new government and the coalition supporting it should include the implementation of the new law “On civil service”. This should involve the formation of the Committee on Senior Civil Servants, the appointment of state secretaries of ministries and the Cabinet, defining sources, stages and mechanisms for a real increase of civil servants’ salaries from the third quarter of 2016.
The new Government must define a mission for each ministry and, in line with it, identify key structural units (new departments) responsible for major reforms (directions of public policy). New departments of ministries should gradually replace the existing ones, and overtake key functions. Competition for civil service positions in new departments should be open for existing civil servants as well.
Reform of electoral law
Reform of electoral legislation remains an important issue on the political agenda. In order to accelerate the implementation of inclusive reform of electoral systems, the Speaker of the Parliament could create within Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine an official working group, which would include the representatives of government, civil society, national and international experts in electoral law, political parties and other stakeholders. The main tasks of the working group should include testing of key features of electoral systems and the preparation of amendments to the election law. Ensuring balanced representation of genders should be mandatory part of all discussions on ways of reforming electoral systems.
In the short term, the new law “On Elections of People’s Deputies” should be approved as soon as possible so that the next parliamentary elections are held under the new rules. The proportional electoral system with open lists in multi-member districts is the most appropriate method of formation of the legislative body of Ukraine and the strengthening of democracy in the country. We believe that a draft law registered in the Parliament is absolutely ready for the first reading. Before the vote, a bill signed by the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should be sent to the expertise of the Venice Commission.
In the medium term it is necessary to reactivate the preparation and adoption of the single Electoral Code. We believe that the draft Electoral Code, which generally received positive reviews of Venice Commission can be taken as a basis (especially the procedural part).
Anti-corruption measures are key to reform and modernize the country. It is important to implement the full anti-corruption laws package passed after the Revolution of Dignity. First of all, to ensure the full functioning and funding of new anti-corruption bodies (National Anticorruption Bureau, Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutors office, National Agency for Corruption Prevention, State Bureau of Investigation, the National Agency for the detection, investigation and management of assets derived from corruption and other crimes), to begin in 2016 the performance of the system of electronic accounting for wealth of government officials without restriction of the declaration scope and to implement practical lifestyle monitoring of public officials.
Also, it is important to launch state funding of political parties – after the presentation and disclosure of financial statements of parties. It is necessary to implement the new law on public procurement and extend its scope to all public bodies and enterprises the mechanisms of transparent and competitive electronic procurement. Parliament should also strengthen the integrity of MPs, to expand the autonomy of anti-corruption bodies and to establish a special judicial mechanism for grand corruption cases.
Amendments to the Constitution regarding judiciary must be accompanied by all the necessary implementing laws needed for judicial sector reforms. We need to create conditions for the renewal of the judiciary, in particular through competitive mechanisms, evaluation of judges, through obligation imposed on judges to prove the legality of the origin of property: the general public will receive effective mechanisms for monitoring the integrity of judges (Council of Public Integrity), and honest judge will be guaranteed real independence – political authorities will be fully removed from making decisions on careers of judges. The salary of a judge who will comply with all trials prescribed by law, must be high.
It is necessary to simplify the judicial system, create a new Supreme Court and regional courts (of appeal): the Supreme Court as the only cassation court will review the decision in the most important cases and the time of final resolution of the case will be shortened, as the current double cassation will be eliminated.
Equally important is to create a separate anti-corruption court for cases in which international judges will be involved. Also, it is necessary to create a legal framework for electronic communication between the justice court and the parties through electronic technology. Any court must accept the request for the proceedings regardless of jurisdiction and independently transmit the appeal to the appropriate court (the principle of a single window).
Competition for the post of Prosecutor General and judges of the Constitutional Court should be introduced, as a result of the rejection of the criterion of loyalty the Prosecutor General and judges of the Constitutional Court will not be politically dependent. In reforming the legal profession, competitive access to the legal profession should be provided as well as and the free choice of lawyer of lawyer association.
Reform of the law enforcement agencies
Among the priorities of the reform is the creation of the qualification commission of prosecutors and open competition for positions in the regional prosecutor’s office and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the introduction of competitive procedure for selection to the post of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, reforming the criminal police modelled after patrol police, to ensure the launch of the State Bureau of Investigation not later than January 1, 2017.
Equally important is to leave with the Security Service of Ukraine of exclusively counterintelligence powers and deprive it of pre-trial investigation functions. Also, it is important to bring the laws “On the National Police” and “On Prosecutor’s Office” in compliance with the Opinion of the Directorate General on Human Rights of the Council of Europe and to adopt a law on the establishment of the municipal guard in the community.
Decentralization and regional development
Last year conditions for real decentralization were created in Ukraine. The fiscal decentralization was carried out. There was a significant increase in local revenues. To enhance the coordination of efforts of the executive power bodies in decentralization it is necessary to create a special body and to appoint a deputy minister and/or a deputy department director in each ministry responsible for coordination with the ministry of draft bills in the area of relevant reforms.
The government shall adopt a resolution on use of state subventions (state grants) to support the community infrastructure (one billion UAH): the delay with this decision undermines the possibility to use these funds by communities and may discredit the mechanism of the state support (state funding). It is necessary to change the use of funds of the State Fund for Regional Development (SFRD), in particular, the funds not used within a budget year shall be transferred to the SFRD in the next year and distributed among all the regions, in accordance with the Budget Code. Also it is necessary to introduce the procedures for the selection of regional development projects on the competitive basis by introducing project scoring on individual performance indicators.
An equally important step is the adoption of the concept of training for the local government bodies staff and the implementation of quick training programs for some categories of the staff. Finally, the government shall develop and submit to the Parliament of Ukraine the draft law, to be adopted by the members of parliament, “On Principles of Administrative and Territorial Organization of Ukraine” and complete the streamlining of the administrative and territorial organization of Ukraine in 2016.
The aim of the economic policy now is the restoration of fast and sustainable economic growth through better conditions for investments, greater private sector role in the economy and preventing corruption in the public sector.
In the area of privatization and state property management until the end of the year it is necessary to conduct at least three successful major tenders on sale of large objects to strategic international investors and to sharply reduce the list of enterprises not subject to privatization; the State Property Fund shall be turned into the public assets management body that shall conduct its inventory checking.
By June it is necessary to finalize the adoption of laws to build a coherent and effective tax system that shall provide a level playing field for business, reduce costs of taxpayers on tax compliance, eliminate opportunities for corruption and abuse by state officials; by itself the reform shall be fiscally neutral and the tax cuts shall be done in accordance with the reduction of the share of public spending in the GDP.
To improve the conditions for business development it is necessary to implement till the end of 2016 a program to improve Ukraine’s ranking in “Doing Business”; to launch the ‘regulatory guillotine’; to reform the supervision and control bodies; to simplify the foreign exchange regulations and to remove restrictions on foreign currency payments for trade operations as well as to build proactive trade policy in support of Ukrainian companies going to foreign markets.
In addition, the government shall pursue a consistent policy on reducing the state role in re-distribution of revenues by completing a comprehensive review of public spending and by continuing the reform of public procurement, verification of recipients of pensions and social payments and verification of financial status of recipients of social payments. During the year it is necessary to start a pension reform that shall include the introduction of an accumulative component of the pension system.
To improve the investment climate it is necessary to immediately create a big taxpayers office within the State Fiscal Service, during the year it is necessary to introduce a procedure of the guaranteed full reimbursement of the VAT to exporters in the automatic mode; to remove a ban on the sale of agricultural land starting from 2017 and to remove the restrictions on payments of dividends abroad.
Finally, the government shall significantly increase attracting and using resources of international financial organizations available for investment projects in Ukraine: only the World Bank projects have unused financing to the amount of 2 billion USD, which is almost equal to all government capital expenditures in 2015.
The key objective of the media reform is to implement the laws adopted in 2015 on public television, reform of the state and municipal media and to ensure safety in the activity of journalists. At the beginning of 2016 the process of creation of public broadcasting is actually blocked by sabotage from the side of Ukrtelefilm State Enterprise. Failure of ministries to conduct state inspections, violation of the terms established by the government, lack of control over the public enterprise now requires an immediate response from both the relevant ministries as well as the quick solution on the legislative level. Before the creation of the PJSC “National public broadcaster of Ukraine”, it is important to increase and provide stable funding level to ensure the purpose of activity of this entity.
In order to ensure effective implementation of the reform of state and municipal media it is necessary to ensure the adoption of consolidated list of objects of reform and the list of mass media going through the first stage of the reform. During 2016 it is important to identify all specificities that may arise in the process of privatization and to adopt a package of amendments to the law in the second half of the year.
At the same time the law enforcement authorities shall carefully monitor attacks on journalists in connection with their professional activity. The key factor for providing legal assessment shall be just journalism, but not a formal status of the victim.
Equally important is to update the law on television and radio broadcasting as early as 2016 in order to harmonize it with the EU directives in the field of audiovisual media services, and to introduce transparent licensing and holding the media accountable for violations; and to enhance the efficiency of the regulatory body as well as to provide the procedure for transition to digital broadcasting.
Public finances reform
The improvement of the financial system by optimizing the budget expenditures and reduction of corruption risks in public finance spending by the government bodies is a key condition for restoration of the economic growth of the country. First of all, it is necessary to focus on improving financial transparency and accountability of the government, including that through the implementation of international standards in the system of evaluation and statistical accounting.
It is important to complete the reform of the approaches to the formation of the state and local budgets, by launching a program-target method in a comprehensive manner. At the same time it is necessary to finalize the methodology for monitoring and evaluation of fulfilment of the budget and public programs, focusing on achieving the objectives of these programs in reality, not only from the formal point of view.
Members of parliament shall promptly complete the reform of the public bodies of financial control by launching the activity of the Accounting Chamber, by electing its management. At the same time the Parliament shall strengthen the requirements as to the liability for failure to comply with the Law “On Transparent Use of Public Funds”; it shall also introduce the medium-term budget planning by making changes to the Budget Code as well as to adopt the law “On Reform of State-Owned Banks” to implement the Strategy of the development of state banks, which is aimed at the strengthening of international standards in corporate governance of state banks and ensuring their independence from political influence.
Energy and utilities reform
The challenge of the reform is the elimination of inflated paternalism and populism in the utilities sector, both of which destroy market relations and lead to excessive consumption of artificially ‘cheapened’ energy resources and destruction of both the motivation for savings and formation of mechanisms for savings. In planning the activities in the field of energy efficiency, it is necessary to focus on creating conditions for the full development and proper functioning of the local market of the utilities and energy services, as well as the reliable and safe providing of these services with the appropriate quality and availability.
Among the immediate steps for Parliament one can mention the regulation of the commercial metering, fine-tuning and adoption of the law “On Energy Efficiency of Buildings”, the adoption of the law on the National Commission on Regulating of Energy and Utilities Services, that would meet the European standards and practices in the activity of an independent regulator, as well as the adoption of the law “On Electricity Market”. The government shall immediately focus on the formation of the concept, structure and products of the Energy Efficiency Fund, and to finalize the legislative instruments connected with the laws on energy service companies and “On Specificities of Implementation of the Right of Ownership in Multi-Apartment Buildings”.
However, the government should develop proposals for adapting current legislation of Ukraine on energy efficiency to the requirements of European directives (Directive 2012/27/EU). Equally important is to change the approach to public subsidies in the energy and utilities sector, which should be targeted, monetized and should encourage to reduce consumption.
An effective healthcare system reform can be achieved only through building trust, dialogue and mutual respect between representatives of all relevant stakeholders: the national and local authorities, civic associations, academics, and the sector’s practitioners. The issue of legislative regulation of the shared responsibility of the state and individuals for health, including shared payments for medical aid, is key. The parliament should legislate for autonomy of health care institutions, while at the same time providing for their accountability to local authorities and the communities. The law-makers should urgently adopt new standards of financing the sector, in particular, by addressing the issue of establishing a procurement body to procure medical services.
The urgent tasks include the introduction of a system of standards in the health care sphere and rebooting the process of reforming the primary medical care. Other urgent steps are the adoption of the Public Health Law and identifying a concept of the public health reform. In 2016, the Government should adopt the National Policy for Ensuring Access to Medicines, create the National Center for Public Health, adopt a provision for a guaranteed scope of medical aid (including the relevant list) in accordance with the state’s economic capacity, and approve official ways of co-payment by individuals for the medical services received. It is also important to design an order of referrals of patients to service providers between different kinds of medical aid in a decentralized environment.
Education and science reform
The key objectives of the education reform are to ensure access to quality education, to create an education environment that is free from corruption and academic cheating, overcoming the gap between education and other spheres of public life, and ensuring financing of the education standard in full as opposed to the “residual principle”. In 2016, it is necessary to complete the legal provisions for the educational reform that would ensure the citizens’ rights of access to quality education and integration into the European educational space. In particular, it is necessary to introduce clear delineation of responsibilities and authority between sectors of administration, effective mechanisms of implementation of autonomy and responsibility of educational institutions, academic freedoms of the educational process participants, enhancing accountability and powers of local self-governance and communities in governance of education, enhancing accountability and powers of trustees / supervisory boards, transparency and accountability of bodies of public self-governance in managing educational institutions, the access of quality educations of all levels to special-needs individuals.
It is of critical importance to prepare and adopt, in 2016, a package of by-laws that will ensure step-by-step implementation of provisions of the Law “On Science and Scientific-Technical Activity”, which will change the principles of administration of the academic sphere and financing of research and development. This refers to, first and foremost, to establishing all the necessary organizational bodies within the Ministry of Education and Science and at the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in order to endure the launch of the National Council for Science and Technology and the National Research Fund no later than January 2017. Furthermore, the legislative regulation of innovation activity and protection of intellectual property should be improved. That requires designing and adopting a number of new bills, amendments to existing legislation and all the relevant by-laws. The science sphere reform should begin with the review of budget allocations for programs to be implemented through the National Research Fund no later than in June 2016. This approach will allow timely implementation of not only the stages of the reform specified by the law, but also Ukraine’s international commitments as an associate member of the European Union’s Research and Innovation Framework Program, Horizon 2020.
The priority actions of both the Parliament and the Government in the field of environmental protection shall be directed at speeding up the introduction of new accountable, controlled European system of environmental protection as well as the rational use of natural resources, according to which the environment shall be made safe for the life of the current and future generations and sustainable economic development shall be ensured.
Among the urgent steps is the adoption of the law “On Environmental Impact Assessment”, that shall set the legal and organizational basis for the process of environmental impact assessment, aiming at prevention of the environmental damage, natural resource management, in the process of decision-making on carrying out the economic activities that have a significant impact on the environment.
Also, it is necessary to adopt the law “On Strategic Environmental Assessment” that will contribute to sustainable development and ensure environmental protection, integration of environmental requirements in the preparation and approval of state planning documents. Equally important is the improvement of the Water Code, Land Code and the laws on the protection of aquatic biological resources for the implementation of integrated approaches to the water management and adaptation of the water legislation to the EU legislation.
Finally, it is necessary to adopt a series of laws on waste to help implement the five-level European hierarchy of waste management (in accordance with the Directive 2008/98 / EU) and to harmonize the classification of hazardous wastes and their classification according to the European list of wastes, as well as to establish control over the Transboundary Movements of hazardous wastes and their Disposal.
civil platform “Reanimation Package of Reforms”
Strategic Advisory Groups
International Renaissance Foundation
NGO “Easy Business”
NGO “Professional Government”
civil platform “Nova Krayina”