Ukrainian anticorruption legislation has been recently undergoing changes. In spring this year the Law on Prevention and Countering Corruption was amended to increase the number of draft regulations that shall undergo anticorruption expert assessment.
Previously such assessment (both state and civic anticorruption expert assessment) was confined to draft laws produced by the executive branch. This excluded from review legislative initiatives promoted by Parliamentarians. New edition of the Law's Article 15 entrusted the Parliamentary Committee on Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption with analyzing all MP-draft legislation for corruption risks. It also automatically widened the scope for possible civic anticorruption assessment, now including draft laws entered by Parliamentarians.
In the course of last year UNDP Ukraine with PACDE support assisted a coalition of civic experts in developing a methodology for conducting civic anticorruption expert assessment. The methodology embodied a user-friendly instrument for assessing possible corruption risks in the draft laws and regulatory acts. Unlike conventional instruments and guidelines, it also provided clear illustrations of possible application of corruption-risk criteria, presented mini-cases to illustrate the recommendations, and enabled civil society activists to go through the process of such expert assessment seamlessly.
After the amendments took effect, the Parliamentary Committee on Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption launched its civic Expert Council to hear the voices of known public experts and receive assistance with analytical work. Having found out about the existence of the civic methodology, the Head of the Committee and the Chair of the Expert Council reached out to UNDP probing for possible joint initiatives in analyzing legislative corruption risks. An idea of piloting the UNDP-developed civic methodology rapidly transformed into action. By joining forces with other expert-organizations within the Council, the Center for Political Studies and Analysis applied the civic methodology to 31 draft law going through the Parliament at the moment, and on 29 August presented its findings at a national-level press-conference.
The findings that emerged proved that close to 30% of these laws contained elements of corruption risks. Thus, for instance, one of the drafts allowed for wide discretionary powers of one of government entities to certify select specialists for conducting assessment of real-estate and commercial properties before sale. This, in turn, could both lead to monopoly in the assessment market and allow the handpicked experts to dictate the prices which ultimately impact the overall fees to be paid throughout sales procedures. Another draft law gave the powers to the National Energy Price Regulation Committee to impose fines ranging from USD 200 up to USD 20 000 per entity – without specifying the criteria who receives which burden.
Results of the expert assessment will be tabled in front of the members of the Parliamentary Committee and then published on the official website of the Ukrainian Parliament, discouraging the MPs to adopt the drafts into the voting agenda. In addition, ambition is to conduct civic expert assessment of the draft State Budget before its voting this fall. Official adoption of the civic methodology for all work of the Expert Council is expected to take place in September this year.