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Carte Blanche for corruption receives final go-ahead

Halya Coynash

  President Yanukovych has signed a law which removes huge amounts of public funding from the tender process and therefore from the public eye.  In so doing he ignored repeated warnings from civic organizations regarding the green light this would give corruption. 

According to Law № 9634 on Amendments to Some Legislative Acts on Public Procurement, tenders for State or municipal enterprises or enterprises where over 50 percent is owned by the State or municipal authority, where the procurement is carried out at the expense of the specific enterprise, will be removed from the Public Procurement Act.   

Even if this does not fuel more corruption, it does mean that the spending of large amounts of money will not need to be published in the Public Procurement Herald.  This means that the extraordinary prices paid for fruit in the President’s Administration or some of the eyebrow-raising goods purchased for the Verkhovna Rada can now be concealed from the public.

As reported, Oleksy Khmara, Head of TORO, the contact group for Transparency International in Ukraine, has no doubts about the consequences of this law.  He warned that the President would be giving his blessing to corruption if he signed it, and that effectively it would legalize corruption, leaving nothing to monitor.

The Internet publication “Nashi Hroshi” [Our Money] earlier reported that in 2011 the Public Procurement Herald announced State tenders for 373, 43 billion UAH, this being a quarter higher than the State budget. During the first 6 months of 2012 it published announcements for tenders worth 307.75 billion UAH.  

It is difficult to feel that Ukraine’s politicians are seriously frightened of public scrutiny however they doubtless prefer to avoid uncomfortable questions, especially in an election year.  

A law had already been passed № 7532 in May 2011 reducing the list of purchases requiring tender procedure, as well as giving scope for public procurement where there is only one bidder. This was after the European Commission had suspended its funding of State bodies because of previous amendments passed to procurement procedure on 11 January 2011. Parliament had then included energy goods, as well as water supply and drainage services among goods and services which didn’t need to be tendered.

It is a year and one month since an anti-corruption law finally came into force.   A package of anti-corruption laws had been submitted by President Yushchenko and passed back in 2009, only to be deferred three times and then finally cancelled after President Yanukovych submitted a new version.  The latter made the President the main person responsible for anti-corruption policy in the country.

It is therefore particularly frustrating that the very person who needed to intervene has instead signed into law this latest dangerous piece of legislation which threatens to make a mockery of both the fight against corruption and access to public information. 

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