The last six months of the Parliament’s work were like an emotional soap opera, each episode could get the most unexpected ending. I present, honestly and briefly, the results, achievements, and expectations of the work of the MPs of the IX convocation.
What has been improved?
Large-scale privatization has been unblocked
At the end of February, the Verkhovna Rada adopted draft law No. 4543. It unblocked the large-scale privatization, the process of which had been out to a halt a year ago due to the pandemic. For the first time since the sale of Kryvorizhstal in 2005, a truly large-scale privatization will start in Ukraine-under transparent rules, at open online auctions. The first object will be a “United Mining and Chemical Company” (UMCC) with a starting price of UAH 3.7 bln. The auction will be held on August 31, 2021.
MPs also supported the Ukroboronprom reform by voting on draft law No. 3822. This Law should become the basis for the transformation and reform of Ukroboronprom into transparent societies, where a corporate governance system should be implemented in accordance with the best international standards.
The undisputed achievement of the “season” of spring-summer 2021 was voting for the necessary draft laws to launch the judicial reform. MPs voted for draft law No. 3711-d on the restart of the HQCJ. A significant advantage of the adopted law is that the MPs have taken into account the key amendment No. 453 on the decisive participation of international experts in the formation of the new HQCJ. The parliamentarians also supported draft law No. 5068 with the vital amendment No. 733, which should ensure a real clean-up of the High Council of Justice.
The start of the clean-up of the judicial system has been made. The only one obstacle now are 4 draft resolutions on the cancellation of voting results. These resolutions should be considered in the session hall, and only then it will be possible to submit the draft law for the President to sign. Tomorrow, the Verkhovna Rada plans to meet to resolve this issue at extraordinary session.
Protection of whistleblowers
To be a whistleblower of corruption in Ukraine has become safer. MPs re-considered draft law No. 3450 with the President’s proposals. One of the defining changes will be the creation of a single portal for whistleblowers’ notices, which will ensure high standards for protecting information received from whistleblowers, a unified approach to message processing, and so on.
Management of seized property
After many discussions, statements, proposals, and amendments, the parliamentarians did listen,and the draft law No. 5141 was adopted in the second reading and in general with significant amendments to it. Asset Recovery and Management Agency will be able to sell movable property under certain conditions. It is the court that will now have the right in its decision to transfer the ARMA assets for management to determine the method of management — sale or management. Thus, the legislation in this area not only was not worsened, but was even slightly improved.
Overcoming the consequences of the Constitutional Court’s decision
MPs continued to put out the results of the crisis of constitutional justice and increased liability for false declaration — this is precisely what the presidential draft law No. 4651 was aimed at. From now on, the penalty for failure to submit a declaration can be up to 1 year in prison.
The last six months of the Parliament’s work were like an emotional soap opera, each episode could get the most unexpected ending.
What has been worsened?
During this session, MPs continued to propose and vote on draft laws that remove more and more tenders from the scope of the Law “On Public Procurement.” One of them is the draft law No. 3715, which significantly restricted the list of what you could buy to combat the coronavirus without auctions. Instead, the MPs created a new corruption opportunity: now anyone can buy anything under a competitive, but almost uncontrolled, simplified procedure.
Draft law No. 5309 was, first of all, designed to improve the public procurement system, and it really had several important changes. However, it wasn’t that simple — when voting in general, this document obliged businesses to provide evidence of violations of their rights and interests when contesting procurement with the AMCU. Moreover, the adopted law allowed to conduct procurement for the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence without transparent competitive bidding.
These budget lines include procurement of equipment for the Okhmatdyt hospital, modernization and construction of 6 airports in regional centers, the launch of the Sich-2-1 space system, and much more. In general, expenses for Independence Day are estimated at UAH 5.4 bln, and all this — without the possibility to control these costs. Moreover, the construction of the Great Ring Road around Kyiv was removed from the scope of the specialized Law; now the project budget is estimated at UAH 85 bln.
What was postponed “for later?”
Changing the status of the NABU.
The expected draft law No. 5459-1 on changing NABU’s status was not adopted permanently — it was voted only in the first reading. Now, the draft law proposes that the NABU become a central executive body with a special status; an external audit of the Bureau will be conducted annually by three experts determined by the government at the suggestion of international partners, and also the possibility of early dismissal of the current director Artem Sytnyk is envisaged.
What the predecessors failed to do, but the current team must bring to the end. The SBU should deal with the country’s security, not anti-corruption cases and pressure on business. The reform under the relevant draft law No. 3196-d should begin very soon, what the EU, NATO, and USA didn’t forget to remind us of. This document was voted only in the first reading, and there are still many questions to it because so far, it appears like this draft law cannot be called a full-fledged reform of the service.
For the fourth year now, Ukraine has not had an up-to-date program document for conducting anti-corruption reforms — the previous Anti-Corruption Strategy was out of the effect in 2017. Despite the public calls, the President’s instructions that the Parliament should still adopt this vital document, consider the relevant draft law No. 4135, they never even put it on the agenda. MPs plan to adopt an Anti-Corruption Strategy in autumn.
Abolition of the KAC
At the initiative of the President, two draft laws — No.5369 and No.5370— on the liquidation of Pavlo Vovk’s patrimony and the formation of the Kyiv Municipal Administrative Court, were directed to the Verkhovna Rada. These draft laws never reached the session hall — they were not even considered by the relevant committee. It is not known, when they will get down to it, or whether they will do it at all. Vovk and Co remain in their positions.
In general, expenses for Independence Day are estimated at UAH 5.4 bln, and all this — without the possibility to control these expenses.
Instead of conclusions
As you can see, a lot was done during the fifth session. However, too often MPs had to hastily correct their own mistakes, as in the cases of draft laws on protecting whistleblowers and strengthening liability for lying in declarations.
The ninth session of the Rada showed that “turbo mode” has gone into oblivion. From now on, all decisions will be made with difficulty, and sometimes even under pressure, that is, under strict requirements from Zelenskyy, or with a yet another reminder from the Group of Seven, the EU, and the United States.
Even now, we can see that a stormy autumn is looming at the horizon. We need to prepare for the most incredible surprises from MPs, who can simply cross out all the positive work already done in the Hall.
As you can see, a lot was done during the fifth session. However, too often MPs had to hastily correct their own mistakes