Well here is an interesting statement from Viktor Baloha suggesting that as Ukraine is struggling to meet existing social payments , such as pension payments which are at the top of the news agenda here via protests from the retired Chernobyl clean up crews, Ukrainian MPs should strip themselves of their expenses privileges.
As he says, the stripping of such privileges would not be enough to cover the budgetary gap but it is still a significant amount of money. You would think, “fair play”, a very socially aware and politically astute statement in times of hardship. That is what you are supposed to think. After all you do not become a Ukrainian MP unless you are a millionaire (or related to a millionaire anyway), so the loss of these expenses is not going to hurt anybody who has a seat in the RADA.
It seems the only privilege he proposes MPs keep is their immunity.
I have an alternative plan that would almost certainly be far more likely to fill any budgetary gap when it comes to sacrifices from the MPs.
How about they keep all of their existing privileges except their immunity. It is after all, their immunity from prosecution in any shape or form that puts them above the law and it is that immunity that allows them to continue to act nefariously, carry out opaque and criminal activities during which they make tens of millions each year without fear of prosecution.
I will accept parliamentary privilege as far as what they can say or do within the RADA building and during directly related political working matters outside as necessarily being immune from issues such as slander, libel or defamation however that is where immunity from the law should stop.
If all their other words and deeds were not immune from prosecution, then there is surely a far better chance that far less money would be pilfered from the public purse, far more of their business interests would operate within the law and tax system, far more tenders and deals would become transparent rather than necessarily opaque to shield guilty consciences, and thus the Ukrainian budget would benefit far greater than removing a paltry (in comparison) sum such are their expenses.
What he is proposing is removing a more transparent part of an MPs activities when it comes to the cost to the public but retaining the absolute protection for the nefarious deeds that cost much, much more to the Ukrainian economy.
When pondering why expenses and the small sum they involve, and not absolute immunity and the huge sums hidden behind that privilege, are being held up as the sacrificial lamb, one cannot help but recall Mr Baloha having a small incident attempting to enter the Swiss border in March 2010, during which he was arrested with Euro 125 million.
Anyway, it is my contention that the MPs keeping their expenses but being fully accountable to the law, is far more likely to generate more revenue to the State budget than them keeping their absolute immunity and sacrificing their expenses in a rather lame, even if well intentioned, publicity stunt.
After all, if they have no immunity, should they then fiddle their expenses they are at least accountable to the law, as far too many UK MPs have recently discovered.