The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) and the system of electronic declaration of incomes have not become fully operational because they are sabotaged at the highest level. If the situation does not change in the near future, Ukraine may not receive the third tranche of the EU financial assistance in December this year and remain “with corruption and no money,” said Oleksandra Drik, Chairman at the NGO “Public Lustration Committee”, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“The EU monitors Ukraine’s compliance with its obligations according to specific indexes necessary for receiving the next tranches. In the case of NACP, Ukraine is expected to ensure the agency’s independence and operability. In the case of the e-declaration system, these are specific indicators in the form of verified declarations, their results, in particular, suspicion of officials in illegal enrichment and further actions against them,” explained Oleksandra Drik. “The highest state officials report to the EU on the formal fulfillment of obligations, but here in Ukraine, do their utmost to ensure that the anti-corruption agency and the anti-corruption tool could not actually work,” she said.
One of the main problems is that the NACP has not become an independent body. Mrs. Drik reminded that a competition for selection of the governing body was conducted by the Cabinet of Ministers. The competition committee for the selection of NACP members could not choose the fifth member for more than a year. As a result, the functions of the commission were performed by the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Mrs. Drick emphasized that the e- declaration system is controlled not by the NACP, but the State Communication Service – a body headed by the SBU General. “In order to transfer the system under the State Communication Service control, when the system was launched, they even falsified its break. Now, through controlling the system, the State Communication Service can uncontrollably interfere with it, make changes, delete declarations of prosecutors and hamper the system activity,” said Mrs. Drik.
Recently, the State Communication Service announced the need to develop a new system – due to the excessively poor quality of the existing one.”They even have calculated how much it will cost – 12 million USD; it will take four years of work,” Mrs. Drik informed. – Before 12 million USD are spent from the budget, that is, from taxpayers’ funds, we have proposed that an independent expert assessment should be conducted. It should reveal the problems with the system, its compliance with the corresponding requirements, its capability to fulfill the tasks set before it, in particular, the launch of an automated checking. Besides, the expert assessment would help us understand who has interfered in the system and the consequences of this interference.” The National Agency on Corruption Prevention took the decision on conducting an independent assessment, the Cabinet of Ministers approved it, but the SCS blocked the procedure. The State Communication Service refuses to participate in conducting this assessment, or to provide access for independent experts to conduct it. What is surprising in this situation is that the Cabinet of Ministers, instead of controlling the execution of its own order reportedly has launched an alternative examination, and entrust it to the State Communication Service, noted Oleksandra Drik.
The third problem is that NACP has no access to all the necessary state registries to verify the submitted declarations. Among those who refuse access is the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, justifying this by the need to amend the current legislation for providing access to the registers.
To change the situation for the better, firstly, the Parliament should vote for draft law No. 6387, which will allow NACP to be restarted and its new leadership to be elected. The government should ensure the independent expert assessment of the electronic declaration system should be conducted, which will allow the automated verification of declarations to be launched. NACP and the Ministry of Justice should change and approve the procedure for conducting a check of declarations. It is also necessary that SFS, the Ministry of Justice and other bodies provide access for NACP to all state registries. “The electronic declaration system needs to be removed from the hands of special services. The control of the special services brings the threat to proper operation of the system,” emphasized Oleksandra Drik.
She added that on October 17, anti-corruption activists plan to organize a protest in support of the necessary anti-corruption moves.