Kyiv, December 9, 2015. The adoption of the law on budget financing of political parties is a revolutionary step. Last week, Ukraine received from the GRECO (Council of Europe body on monitoring anti-corruption “Group of States against Corruption”) third positive conclusion this year. During a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center Oleksandr Danyliuk, Deputy Head of Ukrainian Presidential Administration, Head of Ukrainian delegation to GRECO said, “90% concerned financing parties. That law, which was adopted, answers all questions and recommendations of GRECO. […] Institutionally, we are on a par with other countries.” According to him, parties should not compete on the basis of who has more budgets. If all have the same budget and the same opportunities to communicate their position, the quality of policy will change, believes Danyliuk.
The fight against corruption will really start after we create the Agency for Corruption Prevention. And this is one of the points that prevented Ukraine from getting GRECO’s one hundred percent positive assessment. Danyliuk explained that the process of selecting five members of the agency is coming to an end. Two representatives had been chosen, but the agency needs at least three to start work. Danyliuk hopes that on Friday (December11), the relevant committee will elect the rest of representatives of the National Agency for Corruption Prevention, so that it soon can start its work. “I hope to hear good news on Friday and get a positive signal that we have settled this issue on a practical level as well, and launched the agency from which everyone expects so much,” he said.
GRECO is the main platform in terms of implementing anti-corruption fight. And this law is a consensus among representatives of public authorities on normalizing transparency of political parties, according to Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine Anton Yanchuk. “So far, ten recommendations are fully completed, and six recommendations are partially completed. It is a good progress,” he said. According to him, in general, progress in the fight against corruption is not just implementation of certain recommendations, but a much broader approach. That is, everyone must make every effort to eradicate corruption.
According to the member of Ukrainian parliament Serhiy Lechtchenko, it is important that everything stipulated in this law is implemented. In particular, it is necessary that the system of parties’ incomes and expenditures disclosure is the most transparent, efficient, and electronic, the registers are multifunctional. “The fact remains that from July 1 next year, the parties get funds for their statutory activities. It amounts to about 220 million hryvnias for the parties represented in the current parliament. After next elections, parties that overcome the 2% barrier will receive state funding,” explained Serhiy Leshchenko.
Oleksiy Khmara, head of “Transparency International” Board, expert of Reanimation Package of Reforms anticorruption group, is convinced that there will be a revolution in Ukraine next year. “But it will be not in the streets, it will be in the offices. In fact, this will be the first in Ukraine technocratic revolution that will throw oligarchs from politics,” he said. According to the adopted law on budget financing of political parties, starting next year Ukrainian political parties receive funding from the budget, if they meet a number of technical criteria. In particular, if they disclose information about their donors; undergo annual independent financial audit of their activities; publish reports on their property declarations; and if they have no objections to being controlled by the authorized institutions, reminded Oleksiy Khmara. Only then they will aspire to receive state money.
In this context it is important who will monitor compliance with these criteria, said the expert. The National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption elects these representatives. There are technical issues that can lead to technocratic revolution, says the head of “Transparency International” Board. To do this, the focus should be placed on the following five parameters: method of evaluation of political parties; open register; unbiased experts who will control the money of parties and cope with these matters; politicians should not be left alone with authorities; the budget for 2016 should include two items of expenditures. “These items should be intended for proper functioning of the agency, and for funding the political parties. Because if for some reason money will not be allocated for the political parties, then in the middle of the year […] some changes in the budget may delete this provision on political party funding or suspend the law for some indefinite time. Thus we will again face a situation where the law exists but does not work,” warned Oleksiy Khmara.
Hyunel Babakishiyeva, Lawyer of Center for Political Studies and Analysis, said that people do not always understand why parties should be financed from the pockets of taxpayers. It is important to consider this nuance and explain to people why this law is important and comprises anti-corruption principles. In conclusion, Babakishiyeva informed that Ukraine has risen by 10 points in the ranking of public data openness. And the basis for this jump was the law “On open use of public funds”.