The Rule of P Revisited – Odessa

June 19, 2015

Many times has the “Rule of P” been mentioned within this blog over the years.

The “Rule of P” being “Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” – a robust and sensible rule during times of peace and stability, when there is ample time to deliberate, ponder and debate best policy and effective implementation, or to obfuscate, bewilder, tinker and been seen to do something when actually doing nothing to maintain the status quo or counter what would be ineffective or counterproductive policy.

However it would be something of a stretch to claim such times exist in Ukraine with a war with The Kremlin in the east, and an economy in dire straits.

Thus with fundamental national and regional reformation a priority, the Rule of P need be accompanied with “more haste, less speed” if a satisfactory outcome is to be arrived at.  Time is of the essence – but not so that the outcome is counterproductive or ineffective reform.

Central government has several key issues to deal with, amongst which is the immediate stabilisation of macroeconomics.  It is perhaps the one sphere of government that has seen the most notable progress with regard to internal structural changes to historical processes.

The other two major issues are the rule of law (and reform of all relevant institutions) and turning the opaque and exceptionally corrupt energy sector into a far more transparent arena.

As has been mentioned previously, it is the rule of law where Governor Saakashvili struggles when it comes to reform, for he cannot repeal or amend laws that need changing, but has to work within the legal framework that currently exists – as retarded as that framework is.

“Governor Saakashvili is exactly that – a governor. He is not a President. He does not have anything like the powers he held as a President. Thus his current legitimate (via The Law of Ukraine) and constitutional authority is significantly reduced in comparison to those he once held.”

Thus it will come as no surprise that Odessa Oblast Administration has now decided to draft laws and lobby for them to be passed in the Rada.  The new leadership wants the legal room to deliver what is expected of it.  Despite Governor Saakashvili’s rhetoric about Odessa becoming the Black Sea capital, there is a far loftier goal to achieve.  That goal should be to make Odessa the anti-corruption capital of Ukraine.

Nevertheless MPs and civil society in Kyiv take note, the provinces are drafting laws and will lobbying for their adoption henceforth.  Top of that Odessa Oblast agenda is an already compiled list of licenses and certification required for business that is entirely unnecessary but cannot be canceled or wavered at a regional level.  It requires their repealing/cancellation by the Rada, so anticipate some overt and public Odessa Oblast lobbying to that end – very, very soon.

If nothing else, Governor Saakashvili is not short of a large ego.  His reputation as a moderniser and reformer is on the line.  He is not about to allow the painfully slow processes and vested Rada interests to delay any legislative change that will confine his room to maneuver.  He will want to retain, and perhaps advance, his reputation should he turn Odessa into the anti-corruption capital of Ukraine.  If he does, or even makes significant in-roads, it will be a major achievement in one of the most corrupt Oblasts in the nation.

In short his credibility is dependent not only on results, but the timeliness of those results.  A reproduction of the manyana attitude to reform within the Rada will not be allowed to occur in Odessa.

For all the local and national headlines regarding sacking and appointments to Governor Saakashvili’s team and the heads of regional institutions, these are simply preparatory events – tinkering with the machinery, removing bugs from the processes – but they are clearly not an actual plan.

To be absolutely blunt, currently there is no plan.

There is a plan under construction – but there is no plan at the moment.

By the end of June however, there will be a plan.  Not only will there be a plan, but there will be implementation processes to achieve it following all the current preparatory sackings and hirings to implement.

That plan includes an economic strategy for the Oblast, to build new roads, clamp down on smuggling and corruption in the ports and at the customs/borders, to develop business, tourism and agriculture etc. as well as reducing the staffing levels by orders of magnitude, and dissolving entirely pointless departments within the Oblast Administration.

Thus the existing Odessa Oblast development and economic plans, submitted as a bureaucratic necessary rather than something to attain to historically, will be shredded.

Behind the curtain there is an offer to the regional elites too.  That offer is a de facto amnesty over historical issues on the proviso they actively work with the new administration and not against it.  If not, prepare to be political roadkill (with all that entails) , and crucified in the mainstream and social media for good measure.  Considering the historical and current nefariousness of the Odessa elite, there is perhaps some attractiveness to that offer.  Time will tell.

The current overarching theme within the half-dozen planners of the Oblast Plan, is not corruption or infrastructure or PR but the timeliness in effectively dealing with these matters and implementing the plan.

Once the plan is complete and announced at the end of June, they expect orderly identified implementation steps to be taken and the first results within weeks rather than months.

It could be a rather interesting July in Odessa if weeks and not months proves to be the case.

It will undoubtedly be interesting to watch Odessa Oblast lobby the Rada to get out of its way and let reforms commence.  It may prove somewhat awkward for numerous Odessa MPs to have to publicly choose between the interests of their constituents and their own vested interests.

Will the Rule of P prevail – or will piss poor performance result?  It appears we will soon see!


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