Archive for March 23rd, 2012

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Attritional war between Kyiv and the regional fiefdoms – Is E-Gov the answer?

March 23, 2012

Blimey!

After the numerous posts about effective, ineffective and counterproductive policy, and the repeated highlighting of the fact the regardless of who is in government, regional fiefdoms will rally against any implementation of reforms that will affect its corrupt incomes, we have public recognition from the Ukrainian government that they struggle with the very issues I have consistently highlighted.

“Believe me, there is political will, we will break all the barriers that create local officials. Sooner or later will be set normal business climate in our country.”

Very good.

How are you going to do that and when will you start considering sooner is far more preferable to later?

I recognise the efforts made at reducing the bureaucracy involved in many spheres of public life and I accept that in reducing such bureaucracy the opportunities for employees within the administrative process for corruption reduces – A golf ripple applause of appreciation whilst recognising what has been done doesn’t go nearly far enough.

There is still far too much bureaucracy for the simplest of issues.

Given the high penetration of the Internet within Ukraine, surely the simplest way to remove much of the bureaucracy and associated low level face to face corruption is to do as much of the bureaucratic administration that cannot be scrapped, on-line.

As an example, if I can pay my UK tax demands on-line from Ukraine to the UK, why do I still need to see a tax inspector in Ukraine in person for my Ukrainian taxes?  Send me the tax demand, if I agree with it, let me take it to a nominated bank, pay, get my payment confirmation and that it that.  If I don’t agree with the tax demand, then I will want to see a tax inspector anyway to explain why I don’t agree with it.  Surely only if I dispute the demand do I need any personal interaction with the authorities which can open up the opportunities for corruption.

If there truly is the political will to beat the regional fiefdoms and their refusal or obstruction in implementing top-down reform as is stated, then side-lining the regional administrations as much as possible would seem to be part of the answer.

It’s not as though Ukraine has a lack of computer savvy programmers and that the nation is incapable of creating the IT systems to achieve a significant step towards e-government.  Ukraine is absolutely overflowing with C++, Java, C+ etc. programmers in every major town and city.

The Dutch and the Germans are outsourcing their programming to small teams in Odessa all the time.  The British bank, Barclays is doing the same in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv where they currently employ 500 such Ukrainian programmers.

The human capital and skills exist, particularly amongst a very clever youth who would appreciate the work, to remove a massive amount of face to face corrupt regional administrative mandarins  from the lives of many Ukrainians.  An Internet based administration system would not only remove many opportunities for corruption itself, but also make doing business in Ukraine so much easier and quicker when dealing with any bureaucracy.

That is not to say that moving towards E-government is a Utopian cure-all.  Like most people, there are times when I have been very pleased to have face to face contact with the regional administration if I have a question that requires a more nuanced answer than a generic one.

It is though, surely a step in the right direction if Kyiv cannot effectively deal with the regional fiefdoms and their low level ingrained corruption.  If they can’t cure the problem and effectively remove it, go around it as much as possible for as many as possible.

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