Experts rate first 100 days of Groysman’s government “below average” | #UAreforms

Volodymyr Groysman conducting the meeting of Cabinet of Ministers. Photo: UNIAN

Volodymyr Groysman conducting the meeting of Cabinet of Ministers. Photo: UNIAN 

2016/07/22 • Analysis & Opinion

On 22 July, it will be 100 days since the appointement of Ukraine’s third post-revolutionary government. In April 2016, the appointment was accompanied by such a long and exhausting fuss that Volodymyr Groysman’s team was met rather with apathy than high expectations. 100 days later, experts give the new government a “C-“: it rated 4.6 points out of 10.

Too early to make conclusions?

The first 100 days of the work of the new government are a symbolic marker for what we should expect later on. The Ukrainian Cabinet headed by Volodymyr Groysman has already reported on its first successes: foreign investments, the beginning of the reform of the customs service, a renewal of public management.

An expert survey conducted among 42 experts from different civic organizations who rated the Cabinet’s success on a 10 point scale, conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR), noted that so far the key achievements of Groysman’s Cabinet are transforming the energy sector, setting market prices for gas for all categories of users, and resuming dialogue with international financial organizations. Among political achievements, establishing one political line with the Ukrainian president, openness to working with civic organizations, the presence of reformers in the Cabinet and significant economic, not political, ambitions of the ministers were named.

Among problems, experts noted social failures accompanying raised energy tariffs, the Cabinet’s HR policy, and the compromised management of the State Fiscal Service. The experts expect the government to fire the officials who discredited themselves, to reduce pressure on businesses, real reforms in the judiciary, prosecution, the functioning of the civil service and anti-corruption policy.

Altogether, the experts gave the Cabinet 4.6 points out of 10. The work of Groysman himself was rated a bit higher – 5.3 out of 10.
To evaluate first 100 days of the government, Euromaidan Press asked experts and officials at the Forum 100 Days of Government: The First Evaluation and Future Expectations that took place in Kyiv on 21 July, where the survey was presented, to comment on five spheres in which reforms are most desired yet challenging.

1. Transparency

Experts interviewed in the survey stated that the new government improved cooperation with the civil society and communication with citizens. During the Forum Stepan Kubiv, first Vice Prime Minister stated that his government has an ongoing dialogue with the civil society and business. Requests that come from the broad public, as well as answers to them, are published on the government’s website. He also mentioned the appointment of directors of the state enterprises Ukrzaliznytsia (railway) and Ukrposhta (post) which was performed by an open contest.

However, according to Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers Oleksandr Saenko, many painful and unpopular reforms do not meet understanding on local levels due to lack of proper communication.

Ivan Miklos, former Slovak politician who now advises on reforms in Ukraine, said the government also needed to improve communicating reforms to Brussels if it wants to become a closer partner with the EU.

2. Energy sector

The experts point out reforms in the energy sector and raising gas tariffs to economically justified levels as one of the key successes of the government. Yet, lack of transparency in forming the prices for energy resources causes a significant setback.

Andriy Zinchenko from RPR stated at the Forum that the decision on raising gas prices was „brave” but lacked proper implementation. Until now, billions of budget costs are spent for subsidizing households, which prevents Ukrainians from learning how to be energy efficient.

Extremely high prices which haven’t been explained in an information campaign will give ground for the populists to undermine the reform in the nearest cold season, the expert warned.

On top of that, Ukraine still doesn’t have a legitimate regulator in the energy sector and hasn’t yet developed a complete accounting of own energy resources base.

3. Economic development

Kubiv said that statistics and feedback from businessmen prove some macroeconomic growth, as the economic wing of the government has focused on simplifying doing business and taxation, decreasing regulations, and reforming the management of state enterprises. According to the minister, the trade agreement with Canada has shown how the state can work out quality deals on external markets.

According to Miklos, maybe one of the biggest successes of 2014-2015 was cleaning up the banking system, reducing inflation, and macroeconomic stabilization. Deregulation and privatization, as well as demonopolization, should be the next steps in following the previous course, he said.

Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danylyuk said that cooperation with the IMF can be considered a success and IMF is Ukraine’s key partner now. One of the biggest challenges, the minister said, is forming a realistic budget that won’t have holes during the course of the year, as well as not injecting finances into spheres that haven’t been reformed yet.

4. Judiciary

According to RPR experts, the reform of the law enforcement organs remains one of the most demanded ones. Taras Shevchenko from RPR said that Ukrainians still experience a lack of justice, just as it was before Maidan.

People still haven’t seen politicians from either the old or new team to be brought to justice, but they can see a huge data array about their property and wealth. The judges facing charges in criminal offenses are still in office. While these remain unsolved, it is impossible to persuade the people in necessity of any unpopular reforms such as raising the prices for public utilities.

5. Anticorruption  

At the Forum Ukraine’s minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko said that in the sphere of anticorruption Ukrainians “did the impossible” during last two years. Thanks to the civil society, he said, the most progressive legislation was brought to the parliament. However, Petrenko emphasized on the role of prevention of corruption: decent salaries, transparency in property ownership, and open declarations are key instruments in this.

The fight against corruption isn’t only arrests and imprisoning. According to Ihor Koliushko from RPR, Ukraine should pay more attention to eliminating possible conflicts of interests and enabling procedures that will allow citizens and officials solve issues in accordance with the law.

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  • danram

    So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by Mr. Groysman’s government. I think that he is a significant upgrade over Mr. Yatsenyuk.