Kateryna Ryzhenko specially for Ukrainska Pravda

Ukraine lost EU’s tranche for EUR 600mln in 2017 due to four unfulfilled demands, namely the automatic declarations check not being made operational on time. At that time, European officials were talking about “the NACP’s inability to work efficiently,” especially when it came to the verification of electronic declarations.

There are numerous cases of the kind. They include the NACP’s inefficiency in creation of an ad-hoc arrangement for declarations of the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), the resistance to the NABU’s investigations on illicit enrichment “without the NACP’s permission,” the possible falsifications on e-declarations’ check, and dependency on the Presidential Administration.

That is how the need for the NACP reboot emerged.

The Parliament was the one to get things going by enacting an important draft lawt in October. The Law stipulated the dismissal of the Agency’s members, the сhange from the collective leadership principle towards an individual one, etc.

Now, the recruitment of the Head of the NACP is in full play. November 19 is the application deadline. A Board consisting of three Ukrainian and three international experts is to choose the new head of the NACP before mid December.

Except for a really honorable status, the first sole head of the NACP is in for some tough calls. What are they?

A truly automatic declaration verification

As of autumn 2019, the automatic system of declaration verification involves a lot of manual actions. For instance, there is no automatic distribution of declarations to verify among the NACP’s officials.

A full automation of the process is going to decrease verification bias and speed up the procedure. According to Nataliia Novak, the acting Head of the NACP, one may expect better performance in two months following the improved legislation.

Access to registers

Before, the NACP didn’t have automated access to the Register of the Deceased Estates, the Register of Powers of Attorney, and the Civil Register, and these issues are also under discussion.

However, the improved law will not solve the problem of the unsatisfactory state of national registers and deficiency of complete information for proper automated declaration verification. Therefore, the newly appointed head will have to get involved in the process.

Update of the declarations check procedure

The archaic procedure of the full declaration verification can become a hindrance, as it is built on the basis of collective decision-making and does not accord with the new law.

For instance, there is still the following sentence in the procedure: “The full declaration(s) verification is held according to the National Agency’s decision, whose member is entrusted to conduct a  full declaration(s) verification through workers of its departments.” However, according to the new law, membership in the NACP is cancelled, which renders the entire sentence invalid. And this is not the only imperfection of the procedure.

We used to give recommendations on how to change the procedure. But this will require some time as well, because the new draft of the document is to be approved by the Ministry of Justice.

The lack of anti-corruption strategy

The inconsistent and fragmentary nature of the country’s anti-corruption policy leads to less-than-successful results. The Parliament still has not approved the new anti-corruption strategy for 2018-2020. This may prevent the NACP Head from fully planning the Agency’s work. And the matter itself is very urgent, because the current anti-corruption strategy ended back in 2017.

Accountability of political parties

Despite the fact that the funding of the non-parliamentary parties was halted, the new Head of the NACP will have to sort things out in the accountability of the political parties.

There is an inefficient paper system in effect in the Agency, when parties share their data in hundreds of packages with the original documents. If the party has a branching network throughout regions, it has to send the accounts using literal trucks.

Fix-up in the field of the conflicts of interest

The former management received a series of recommendations from international partners concerning the regulation of the conflict of interests.

The cases of unregulated conflicts between a private interest and official duty are an endless source of corruption.

The new Head of the NACP will have to take up this complicated field of responsibility and in this way diminish the possibility for abuse of power.

However, the biggest challenge for the new Head is to shift NACP from collective to sole leadership within a short timeframe. Although the institution is new, it has already developed some bad habits. And it is necessary to fight them, fight consistently and fight ruthlessly.

Are the candidates ready for this?