Kyiv, July 1, 2015. Verhkovna Rada has to adopt the public administration bill that changes the rules of application and the code of conduct for civil servants by July 17 when the current parliamentary session expires. Civic activists and Members of Parliament emphasized during the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center devoted to Ukraine Reforms Taskforce that failure to do so might impede the implementation of other reforms.
A wide circle of civic experts as well as the National Agency of Ukraine on Civil Service designed the bill; hence, it represents the consensual view on how the Ukrainian public administration should operate.
However, the passage of the bill has not been as quick as it could be. The final text was approved in the autumn of 2014, but almost six month passed before the Cabinet of Ministers introduced it to the parliament at the end of March 2015. The parliament approved the bill in the first reading on April 23. Since then, MPs submitted over 1,300 amendments to the bill.
Alyona Shkrum, MP and head of the working group that refines the bill, noted sturdy resistance to a number of suggested innovations that harmonize Ukrainian legislation with the European practices, yet still perceived difficult in the Ukrainian realities. Particularly, the bill envisages ban for bureaucrats to participate in political activities, while application process will be based on transparent selection procedure, and to only those state institutions clearly identifies in the text of the bill
“We have developed a bill that meets the requirements and expectations of the society, the EU and the state officials themselves. We ask for support of the whole civil society for help and finally launch the first radical public administration reform which will make our civil service efficient, professional and independent from political pressure,” Ms. Shkrum emphasized.
Ihor Koliushko, director of the Centre for Policy of Legal Reforms, said these principles are fundamentally important for the efficient state-building. He noted that attempts of certain state agencies and some MPs to include exceptions is going to undermine a unified approach and the very idea of public administration reform.
“To our surprise, the matter of politicization of civil servants’ activity became the most charged one. Experts and most of civil servants insist on direct ban for civil servants to be members of political parties. On the one hand, it does not fully comply with the European standards. On the other hand, Europe never faced a problem of such large-scale politicization of state service. We have to find a compromise in order to protect civil servants from political bias,” Ihor Koliushko said.
One of the key innovations outlined in the bill are changes related to the salaries of civil servants, which connected the efficiency of work with higher material reward, as well as transparent calculation system that does not depend on human factor. Due to the dire financial situation in Ukraine, these changes will be enacted in 2017, however, the authors of the bill still leave the possibility to recalculate civil servants’ salary.
“We envisaged a provision allowing the Civil Service to survive until 2017. It includes shifting the money released from redundancies and cuts of numbers of civil servants to those who have passed necessary criteria and stayed in public administration. General Labour Compensation Funds will not be reduced, while their finances redistributed,” said Denys Brodskyi, Reanimation Package of Reforms expert.
Ivan Khilobok, project manager of public administration reform, said that the bill was approved in the first reading and received a favorable view of the European experts of EU/OECD SIGMA Program [joint program of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union to support management and administration systems reforms in compliance with requirements of the rule of law and democracy].
“It is necessary to adopt the bill in July before the current parliamentary session terminates. It is crucial not only for the fulfillment of the the Coalition Agreement and the Government Agenda for 2015, but a prerequisite for obtaining EU financial aid in the amount of 105 million euro as part of the agreement on the national development dated May 13, 2014,” Mr. Khilobok concluded.