Reforms in 2017: Priorities and expectations – expert discussion

December 15, 2016.

Parliamentarians name three priority reforms for the next year and call upon professional approach before political ambition.

Next year, we can complete reforms or achieve a notable progress in several areas. First, judicial reform, which is almost completed on paper and now it only, requires implementing. Second, healthcare reform, which has not even started, but there are legislative developments. Third priority reform is decentralization and a new law on elections. This was stated by Oleksandr Chernenko, member of the Ukrainian parliament (MP), at a discussion held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Decentralization is hardly possible without amending the Constitution, but currently the Verkhovna Rada does not adopt even the necessary laws. The way the Verkhovna Rada rejected these bills last week shows how certain political forces artificially impede the reform by claiming that schools and hospitals will allegedly close. But we continue to defend this reform in Parliament,” said Mr. Chernenko.

According to Olena Sotnyk, MP of Ukraine, any reform must begin with changing the meaning and the social contract. “Over the past 25 years, we have had a social contract that the majority does not pay taxes, and the government is not particularly concerned about this majority and redistributes available resources. This has to change, everyone without exception is to pay taxes, and the state is to provide quality services,” she explained. This can be achieved through amending the electoral law: through other approaches to the formation, political activities and accountability of political parties.

As to tax reform, Ms. Sotnyk believes that it must ensure transparency, simplicity and prestige. “The society should find it prestigious to pay taxes, because in this case the state guarantees my protection, provides opportunities and gives me respect, so I feel decent,” said the MP. She also drew attention to the incorrect communication of reforms to the public. “People have not been explained how their lives can be affected by the funds saved or brought out of the shadow economy. The public procurement reform has yielded more than 6 billion hryvnias. These funds can be spent on improving the quality of life, social sector and infrastructure projects. But the people have not been explained how the reforms will affect the quality of life in the future. Some of the reforms will yield the results almost immediately, and some in 4-5 years,” noted Olena Sotnyk.

According to Oleksiy Ryabchyn, MP of Ukraine, not only successes, but also unsuccesses should be mentioned. “Our state cannot communicate. But does it have anything to say? For example, the tariff reform has been implemented to no good. Will you tell people who receive unimaginable utility bills that it is good for the country? If a person does not feel his benefit, you can’t just explain in it to him or her,” believes the MP.

He also noted that the government needs the support of civil society. However, it should remain unpoliticized and professional. It is the only way to avoid discrediting itself. “If you are an expert on decentralization, you should not also become an expert on anti-corruption. If you decided to go into politics, then do this “coming out” and stop calling yourself an expert. There is civil society In Ukraine, but its final goals are a unclear,” believes Mr. Ryabchyn.

 

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