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Mixed expectations for Ukraine’s new government | #UAreforms

Ukraine’s new government in Verkhovna Rada on a voting day of 14 April 2016. Photo: UNIAN
Mixed expectations for Ukraine’s new government | #UAreforms
Ukraine’s most recent government headed by the youngest ever prime minister Volodymyr Groysman takes power after a long and exhausting rat race that got labeled as a “political cricis.” This results in unprecedentedly low expectations, if any. Long hoped for and still yet to come reforms have become an irritating reminder of Ukraine’s revolutionary aspirations. Euromaidan Press asked Ukrainian experts about the reform potential of the new government, and what it is likely to focus on.

New government, old plan

Ukraine’s newly appointed prime minister Volodymyr Groysman invited civil society representatives and experts for a discussion. This step gave a hope for transparency and accountability of the new government. Another important move was presenting its program which follows European practices, experts state.

However, the process of forming the government lacked transparency and carried a nepotistic character, leaving barely any seats for independent professionals. The quota approach guaranteed representation for only two parties: presidential Petro Poroshenko Bloc and ex-prime-minister’s People’s Front.

The composition of Ukraine's new Cabinet, by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine
The composition of Ukraine’s new Cabinet
Petro Okhotin
Petro Okhotin

This leaves doubts about Groysman’s team potential, turning it into “a government of selective reforms,” as political consultant Petro Okhotin put it in a Facebook comment for Euromaidan Press. The expert is sure that fulfilling the interests in the framework of the “oligarchs’ consensus” as a guarantee of “latent coalition” functioning will be a lion’s share in the new government’s routine.

Yet, despite a protracted political crisis that resulted into change of government, Groysman’s cabinet is expected to follow Yatsenyuk’s plan. The ex-prime-minister presented an Action Plan of 375 paragraphs a short while before resignation, and the new one pledged to follow that course.

Volodymyr Panchenko, Alex Pol Institute Director

Just like the previous government, the new one will perform horizontal reforms, Volodymyr Panchenko, Alex Pol Institute Director explained in a phone comment for Euromaidan Press. Horizontal reforms have a systemic character such as change of the judiciary, tackling corruption, or deregulation. As for vertical reforms, the parliament will lead a new trend providing changing specific sectors, Panchenko stated.

Reforms in personalities

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, RPR

Observers could point out “the reformers” in two previous post-revolution governments. Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, Reanimation Package of Reforms’ (RPR) Advocacy Manager named some personalities from Groysman’s team whom he expects to become reformers in a phone comment to Euromaidan Press.

The expert pointed out Volodymyr Omelyan, the Infrastructure Minister, as well as Lilia Hrynevych, who can follow Serhii Kvit’s course as a new Education Minister. With the latter, a question arises regarding Deputy Minister of Education Roman Hreba. He was in fact initiator of falsification of the contest for Ukrainian Government Anti-corruption agency and was later suspended because to that, Yurchyshyn says.

According to him, much reformist potential belongs to other deputy ministers such as Maksym Nefyodov and Yuliya Kovaliv who used to work in Aivaras Abromavicius’ team, as well as former Natalie Jaresko’s deputy Oksana Makarova.

He predicts that the new government will very soon finalize the civil service reform, since the legislative framework has been prepared for it, as well as resources to cover it have been drawn. Another sector to hope for the visible results is anti-corruption, namely investigations of the National Anti-corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

Libertarian economic bloc

A big reforms fish is the economic and financial bloc, Euromaidan Press’ interlocutors state. Panchenko believes Oleksandr Danylyuk, the new Finance Minister who has declared a libertarian course, will be able to form the agenda for the whole government.

Therefore, in the economical sector the new government will focus on deregulation, opening of the internal market, inflation targeting, anti-corruption, and other Washington consensus elements.
Victor Maziarchuk, RPR

Danylyuk will stress on efficiency of budget costs use, as well as medium-term budget planning, RPR’s Chief Public Finances Expert Victor Maziarchuk points out. If the new Finance Minister succeeds in those two areas, this will be a victory just as significant as Jaresko’s debt restructuring, the expert predicts.

According to Maziarchuk, the new Minister will continue opening the information about budget spending which will enhance institutional capacity of the ministry.

In the agricultural sphere the reforms will follow interests of the big corporations (mainly American ones), says Panchenko. This will result in selling agricultural lands.

The energy sector will see a further increase for the households tariffs that will be justified by the IMF demands, Okhotin states.

Read also: Five facts about Ukraine’s new prime minister Volodymyr Groysman

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