Promises are to be kept
The Committee of Voters of Ukraine has publicly called on National Deputies to renounce excessive benefits. In its statement, it points out that most of the political parties now represented in the Verkhovna Rada included points on abolishing deputy immunity and special benefits and privileges for National Deputies. This however requires making amendments to the Constitution, and need to be considered together with other constitutional changes. The CVU stresses that now, during preparation of priority draft laws, the Deputies should begin honouring some of their pre-election promises. The coalition members have repeatedly stated that a law on abolishing benefits will be one of the first laws passed, yet as of 12 December the draft law was not available for scrutiny, nor is it among the 1500 registered since the elections.
CVU estimates that spending on servicing the Presidents Secretariat, the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers increases on average by a minimum of 10-20% annually which is above the increase in inflation. It mentions that the 2008 Budget allows for an increase of 33% in spending on medical services for Deputies and high-ranking officials over this year. It says that according to some estimates, more money has been allocated for sanatoriums for high-ranking officials than for rural medicine.
The Committee of Voters therefore calls for particular measures.
- To make public a report on the use of the Budget allocations during 2006-2007 for the apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada; the State Department of Affairs* and the Cabinet of Ministers, with a detailed breakdown of spending.
- To make public the draft law on reducing Deputies benefits and to hold public hearings before its consideration by a profile committee.
- In drawing up the 2008 Budget to reduce Deputy expenditure on activities not directly linked with their duties, and to report on spending per item per Deputy;
- Declarations regarding the income of the President, National Deputies, heads and deputy heads of ministries and departments, the Ombudsperson, Head of the Security Service, Prosecutor General, Head of the Central Election Commission and other management of the central authorities should be published on their departments websites;
- To reduce Deputy spending on free flats in Kyiv or compensation for their purchase (involving a radical change to Article 35 of the Law “On the status of National Deputies”).
- The Verkhovna Rada should abolish the law from 24 February 2006 which extended the list of benefits for deputies. The law was suspended for 2007.
* This department sounds no better in the Ukrainian yet has a very substantial budget (translator)
Shortened report of the statement on www.cvu.org.ua