The war continues, but Ukrainian and European politicians are already actively discussing the reconstruction of Ukraine. It is expected that a separate fund will be created for this purpose, which will receive grant assistance from other countries, loans and credits from international banks and institutions. So far, the clear funding mechanism and amount of this assistance is unknown. But already now the issue of this big money makes many Ukrainian politicians and businessmen restless.
The topic of rebuilding is quite complex. It has many technical issues. In particular, how to record and evaluate all the consequences of the destruction and equally compensate for the damage caused. There are also many questions as to the assessment of the effectiveness in the use of allocated funds.
The first issue is that actually no country in modern history has faced such a scale of destruction. We need a perfect and effective mechanism how to quickly identify and assess a giant number of events and objects. So that this process does not turn into a prolonged bureaucratized mechanism with a number of certificates and queues.
The second issue is the desire of some officials to get their hands on large investment projects. It is worth recalling the preparations for Euro 2012, when, according to experts, corruption stole almost a third of the funding.
Of course, now the topic of corruption has taken a back seat and has partially even disappeared from the information field of the country. But it is too naive to expect that most of the Ukrainian officials, judges, and politicians have radically changed their viewpoint after February 24.
And this problem can become a significant obstacle. It is difficult to get funds for a project in which you do not guarantee the effectiveness of their use. Of course, after the war, the Ukrainian authorities will receive a certain credit of trust from both society and international partners. But this credit must be justified. Otherwise, the international community can quickly abandon the idea of helping a country that does not know how to appreciate this assistance.
To address both challenges, the rebuilding process must be clear, transparent, and justified at all stages. We have to guarantee the efficiency of using each penny. It is a responsibility not only to those who offer this money — but also to those for whom it should be intended. Those most affected by the war.
To ensure that the reconstruction process does not raise any issues, the Ukrainian authorities should take several steps that really needed to have been taken long ago.
- Implementjudicial reformthat would protect the rights of investors, businesses, and society
As long as we have selective and inconsistent justice, Ukraine will have problems on all economic fronts. In particular, in the matter of reconstruction.
The problem of justice does not seem to relate directly to reconstruction. However, without a complete reform of the courts, perpetrators will always have a chance to dodge liability. Therefore, dishonest officials will continue to play by the old rules. Let us recall how the KAC reinstated scandalous Roman Nasirov as the head of the SFS.
- To change the model of interaction of the authorities and the anti-corruption institutions
Now we have a situation where the heads of anti-corruption bodies are not elected for years, anti-corruption reforms are promoted only under the pressure of Western partners, and the authorities often take hasty steps in the opposite direction. The word “anti-corruption” acts as an irritant to many politicians.
All this happens, in particular, due to the desire of the authorities to control the anti-corruption infrastructure. A bribed MP or director of a large state-owned company is a reputational risk for all officials. Such cases seem to decrease confidence in the authorities. However, in reality, the confidence in the authorities decreases due to long investigations of corruption, and the perpetrators of these investigations are never brought to justice.
Due to the insufficient development of anti-corruption institutions, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands opposed granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership. Likewise, in the future, we cannot hope for stable support in post-war reconstruction unless we provide assurances that these funds will definitely go as intended, that some of them will not settle in the pockets of officials. This is what the anti-corruption infrastructure is responsible for.
- To ensure openness of data
The principle of “everyone sees everything” should be the main principle of the state. Especially when it comes to the use of funds.
Open data is one of the few areas in which Ukraine can be truly proud of success. In 2021, we ranked 6th out of 34 countries in the Open Data Maturity Report. Ukrainian average maturity in the field of open data was 94%, which is 13% higher than the EU average.
Unfortunately, in the last year, the authorities tried to limit the openness of information in public procurement. The tenders were removed from the scope of Prozorro and the Law.
This should not be allowed with data on rebuilding. All information: from the identification of the fact of damage to the completion of the process of compensation for these losses — should be public.
- To automate processes as much as possible and specify clear algorithms
To prevent abuse, it is necessary to clearly prioritize and sequence the reconstruction, as well as the fact of how the information about losses, what will be rebuilt first of all, how victims will be able to receive compensation, will be collected and systematized. All these processes require clear, understandable algorithms.
At the same time, it is advisable to use automated tools wherever possible: for evaluation, exchange of data between registers, formation of an information card of the object, compensation process, etc. First of all, it will optimize resources and speed up processes. So that people do not stand in queues and collect fifty certificates to receive compensation or become a participant in the reconstruction project. Moreover, automated and transparent processes reduce corruption risks.
- To apply socially oriented and inclusive approaches in urban planning
Previously, the process of building housing and social objects in cities was reduced to a simple algorithm: the developer – territory – object. Community interests and comfortable conditions were not of particular importance. Ukraine has been overgrown with arrays of primitive buildings with terrible social infrastructure. This should be a thing of the past.
Urban planning should be consistent with the concept of a comfortable, safe and convenient space for the population and consider the experience of the war.
How should it work?
Step 1. Identification and validation
The state should ensure the distribution of the functions of identification, assessment, and implementation of reconstruction. In most cases, it is logical that the inspection of an object (confirmation of the fact of destruction) should be conducted by a special body established at the community level, consisting of representatives of the Executive Committee, the State Emergency Service, and the National Police.
For infrastructure, energy, and communications objects, most likely, the organization of this process will have to be entrusted to the specialized ministry, or a specially created body.
It is desirable that the work of these bodies cause minimal damage to the environment in the form of tons of paper materials (all kinds of acts, certificates, and protocols). Most of the information can be collected in the available registers, and the recording process can be digital. Electronic document management will simplify the further processing of information.
Step 2. Entry in the Unified Public Register
Starting from the first stage, information should be accumulated in the public register. Here, any user should see all the necessary information (except for personal data of the owner), which will allow to ensure public control and improve the efficiency of identification.
Step 3. Categorization of destroyed objects
At this stage, all objects are divided into two categories: those for which monetary compensation is advisable and those that need to be rebuilt.
If we are talking about individual property that is not part of social development, we can consider compensation.
If we are talking about apartment buildings, public places, infrastructure objects — reconstruction will be more appropriate. In addition, it should consider new requirements and standards. It is hardly advisable to rebuild exactly the same panel multistory building that was damaged during the war. The new object should be better, more comfortable, and safer.
Step 4. Implementation of projects
The implementation of the rebuilding should be perfectly transparent, so that no one has any questions why this contractor received this contract, and why it is suddenly the wife of the mayor who founded the developer.
Transparent process of development of the rebuilding project, transparent tender, transparent project schedule. Transparency must become the rule. It can be ensured by the introduction of an electronic rebuilding management system, where everyone will be able to follow all the stages of the process for each object: from planning to commissioning.
In addition, project development should consider public opinion and have clear benchmarks and priorities in accordance with modern living standards.
Step 5. Evaluating the effectiveness of the rebuilding implementation
So far, many people imagine the process of financing reconstruction projects according to the principle of an ATM: you come, insert a “card,” and withdraw money. That is, we will tell international partners how much money we need, and they will just give it to us.
However, in practice, this should and most likely will work according to the principle of an investment agreement — we will receive funds for certain specific projects with certain expected results.
In general, schematically, the entire process should take place according to approximately the following algorithm.
Even if the process is partially different, it is important that the rebuilding is carried out in accordance with the basic principles: transparency and efficiency. Every penny has to go as intended. Ukraine has suffered terribly from russia’s military aggression. We cannot allow corruption and irrational governance to destroy it after the war.
Therefore, it is necessary that the public, the state, and international partners work together for a common goal. That is why the RISE Ukraine coalition of organizations was created to ensure the integrity, sustainability, and effectiveness of Ukraine’s reconstruction. The Coalition will work to develop information solutions, in particular an electronic rebuilding management system, ensure the timely publication of complete data on rebuilding at all stages, and monitor the integrity and inclusiveness of processes.
The material was prepared in co-authorship with Volodymyr Datsenko