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The best babysitters are independent courts and transparent public finances

29/07/2020 18:00

One week ago, the European Union approved the next tranche of 1.2 billion euros of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. Add to this sum 3.8 billion euros that Ukraine has received since 2014 under this program, and it will be 5 billion euros. Ukraine will be the first non-EU country to receive such amount of assistance. But the Ukrainian authorities need to fulfill a number of conditions.

What does Ukraine need to do to get the next 600 million euros?

First. Carry out the judicial reform. The judiciary is beyond the reach of any government. That is why the EU has already taken on the role of a “whip” in reforming the judiciary and demands a complete reset of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine, a reset of the High Council of Justice with the participation of international experts. I would go even further – I would give the judiciary the right of legislative initiative.

The Cabinet of Ministers should eliminate the tax police and establish a Financial Investigation Bureau instead, which would be independent of any political force or branch of power. Both Poroshenko and Zelensky tried to create financial intelligence. Nothing happened. Each of them tried to form a body to investigate financial crimes. The independent body, which should have become the National Bureau of Financial Security of Poroshenko’s format, easily turned into the Bureau of Monopolization of Power. Poroshenko’s motives were clear: who wants to create a body that will then follow in the footsteps of the fifth president himself, who withdrew 4 billion euros from the country during his rule?

But why President Zelensky tried to usurp power by setting up a Bureau of Financial Investigations under his control is unclear. The creation of a body to deal with crimes in the field of public finances was a program item for both presidential candidate Zelensky and his party “Servant of the People”. As you know, the Parliament rejected the bill on the establishment of the Bureau in the version that it would be subordinated to the Ministry of Finance, and not the President, as originally planned. The “people’s servants” themselves noted that there was not enough political will to pass the bill.

The attempts of both presidents have the same motive – to create not an independent but a pocket body. We definitely need financial intelligence, because since 2014, when the government announced a course of reforms, nothing has been done to combat the theft of public finances. The establishment of the Bureau was not only a requirement of the IMF, but also a requirement of society. Now the European Union demands it. And when some political speculators begin to spread “Yaroslavna’s weeping” that Ukraine is not needed by the EU, that no one is waiting for us there, I want to categorically deny all of them. The amount of assistance that the EU provides us and the demands to reform the judiciary, disband the tax police, reform the tax and customs services show that the European Union needs an uncorrupted Ukraine with independent courts and a transparent public finance system. How much money local criminals can steal from EU citizens? Therefore, if the government is interested in receiving full macro-financial assistance, it must pass a bill on the establishment of the Financial Investigation Bureau at least in the first reading by the end of the year. So, let’s follow the hands of the president and deputies of the majority.

And most importantly. It is not possible to create an investment climate in the country with the help of investment nannies. Only independent courts and a transparent public finance system will be the best investment nannies for investors in Ukraine.

Mykola Katerynchuk
Leader of the European Party of Ukraine