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Draft law №2123a “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning prevention and counteraction to political corruption”

October 9, 2015

A few days ago this entry appeared which mentioned draft law №2123a “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning prevention and counteraction to political corruption” due for tabling for vote within the Verkhovna Rada on 8th October.

In a nutshell, the core elements of this draft law proposed “administrative and criminal liability for violations for the provision or receipt of donations to a candidate submitting knowingly false information with regard to property, income, expenses and financial obligations, and misuse of campaign funds.

It proposes strengthening the instruments available to the Accounting Chamber and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption over the financing of political parties. It aims to limit the amount of contributions to parties by individuals and legal entities, disclose major donors to parties, establish annual internal and independent financial audits of a political party as well as its local organisations that hold legal status.

Further it will oblige all parties to publish a report on the property, income, expenses and financial obligations in full on the official website of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption. It also seeks to introduce State funding of political parties, subject to party discipline and financial statements.”

A fairly significant piece of legislative amendment if it passed and if effectively policed when it comes to forcing some transparency upon Ukrainian elections – particularly so when employed in concert with the roles of anti-corruption bodies, and a move toward open party lists etc.

The draft Bill did indeed garner sufficient votes to pass – albeit only just, with a meager 229 MPs seeing the draft law through to become legislation (a 226 vote minimum required).  The Ukrainian voting constituency may be wise to consider why those MPs who did not support a law that makes electioneering and political party mechanics more transparent decided not to do so.  Inferences perhaps should be drawn.

Unsurprisingly, draft law №2123a that suggested amendments to existing legislation was itself subject to amendment prior to the vote – when is Ukrainian legislation not subject to amendment prior to, or some time after adoption, when vested interests may otherwise suffer?

At the time of writing, being blind to what those amendments actually were – and thus the impact upon the original draft – Interfax reports that “According to the law, state funding will be provided to the parties that passed the 5% threshold at parliamentary elections.

According to the law, the state budget provides funds for the statutory activities of political parties, which are not connected with their participation in elections, and reimburses parties’ expenses related to the financing of their election campaign during parliamentary elections.

The annual volume of the state funding of statutory activities of political parties will amount to 0.02 of a minimum wage, as established on January 1 of the year proceeding the year of the allocation of the state budget, multiplied by the total number of voters who participated in voting nationwide.

An additional 10% will be awarded as a bonus to the political parties which comply with the principle of gender balance.

The law also states that the total amount of a contribution for the support of a party by a citizen of Ukraine in one year cannot exceed 400 minimum wages. The maximum amount of the contribution of legal entities is 800 minimum wages.

According to the law, political parties cannot be financed by government and municipal agencies, as well as legal entities, which have a more than 10% share of the statutory capital, which is owned by the state or local government. Foreign states and foreign legal entities or individuals are forbidden from making any contributions to political parties.

The document lays down the procedure of financial reporting of a political party.”

Whatever the result of the amendments, there is some good and necessary stuff still in there, and throwing out the good in pursuit of the best is not necessarily wise – however there is one issue that seems rather striking – the law will come into effect from 1st July 2016.

Why such a delay?

behind the curtain

It is certainly not for reasons to allow for the completion of the current on-going local election campaigning under the old legislation when the electioneering has already started.  For a start the law cannot be retrospectively applied, and as yet it has still to be signed into law by President Poroshenko and duly published to officially become Ukrainian legislation.  Constitutionally the President has 15 days to sign, veto, or return the law to the Verkhovna Rada with suggested amendments, and should it take a day or two to reach him, then when added to the aforementioned 15 days, the local elections would have taken place under the old legislation anyway.

Is it a nod toward the proposed date for the elections within the occupied Donbas of 21st February 2016 to insure they are over before the new law takes effect?  (If those elections actually take place at all, or if they do take place whether they are deemed to have been free and fair with the results duly accepted.)  Maybe – maybe not.

Would that justify a law passed on 8th October 2015 coming into effect upon 1st July 2016 – almost 9 months later?

Is it to allow time to create another independent body to implement and audit the outcomes that these amendments would generate – despite theoretically there now being no scheduled elections per constitutionally stated electoral terms for several years now?  If that is the reasoning then it is a fairly lame reason, if reason at all, when no elections are officially due until several years after 1st July 2016 when these amendments come into force.

Therefore, is it more likely to relate to yesterday’s entry and to the numerous reasons listed as to why an early Spring 2016 Verkhovna Rada election remains a distinct possibility (or indeed probability)?

Would not a Spring 2016 Verkhovna Rada election therefore fall within the current non-transparent, easily influenced and regularly abused legislation, rather than the legislation just passed that comes into force from 1st July 2016?

Exactly!

Indeed for those with a healthy dose of cynicism, the timing of the of this legislation entering into force would add yet another reason to expect early Verkhovna Rada elections in Spring 2016.  The timing allows for one last corrupt, nefarious, opaque electoral hurrah and huzzah for the national legislature that would greatly assist the retention of certain vested interests for a few years more before succumbing to some form of enforced electoral and political party funding transparency – or subsequently amending these newly passed legislative amendments into essentially meaningless impotence at an opportune moment hence.

Are there any good arguments that can justify the delay of this legislation coming into force until 1st July 2016?  (Other than yet another grubby political deal to provide an avenue to preserve vested interests via shenanigans behind the political curtain for a few more years in any early Verkhovna Rada elections obviously.)

A 9 month delay before this law enters into force takes some explaining.

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