The second wave. Are you an e-declarant?
01 Feb 2017
Originally published in ‘Ukrainska Pravda’ on 25 January 2017
The second stage of electronic asset disclosure that started in 2017 is supposed to cover over 700,000 new declarants, including some education and healthcare professionals.
According to the recent survey by Rating Group, Ukrainians considered e-declarations one of the main successes of Ukraine in 2016, after singer Jamala’s win in the Eurovision contest, good performance of Paralympians and the minimum wage increase to UAH 3,200.
Indeed, the launch of e-declarations made the Ukrainian officials to demonstrate an unprecedented transparency of their property – money, real estate, valuables, etc. The revealed wealth impressed and caused a lot of questions as regards whether officials earned it legally.
On the other hand, the reform has proven that the country is following the path of a mindset change – from the shadow that was throwing a cloak around the Augean stables of corruption to the transparency as a pre-requisite to clear them out.
For the international partners of Ukraine, the new system of asset disclosure has also become a ray of hope and a crucial anti-corruption move. “What is happening right now in Ukraine is a real breakthrough in reforms and especially in the critical fight against corruption,” stressed Janthomas Hiemstra, Country Director of UNDP Ukraine that supported the development of this new system in Ukraine.
However, it’s just the beginning for the majority of Ukrainians who are targeted by the reform.
On 1 January 2017, the second stage of the e-declaration system was launched. It requires all public officials in Ukraine to submit their e-declarations.
Approximately 700,000-800,000 officials and employees of the state and local self-government authorities, state and municipal institutions and organizations will join some 100,000 top and mid-level officials who submitted their e-declarations during the first wave of this process that started on 1 September 2016.
In this article, we will describe those who become subject to mandatory electronic asset disclosure in 2017, taking into account the latest changes in the Law of Ukraine “On Corruption Prevention,” as well as those who will submit their e-declarations for the second time, and the deadlines for reporting changes in the declarants’ assets.
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Expansion of the scope of declarants from civil servants and politicians to education, healthcare and other public sector employees is supposed to focus public attention on the corruption areas deeply entrenched into everyday life. Under the previous legal framework, these categories had also had to submit annually paper-based declarations at the place of their work, but many failed to comply due to the lack of control and attention.
With the e-declaration in place, it will be much more complicated to evade this requirement.
In general, considering not only the declarants themselves but also their family members, over one million people should get ready to reveal their wealth and – also importantly – regularly notify of any significant changes in their assets.
Given such large number of the declarants, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) should carry out a broad awareness-raising campaign to explain the new requirements of the law to the public officials and employees.
Furthermore, the society should hold the NAPC accountable for ensuring adequate operation of the e-register and preventing any technical slip-ups. In fact, there was enough time to fix drawbacks after the ‘first lumpy pancake’ when numerous ministers and MPs complained about the software deficiencies.
Other indicators of the new system’s effectiveness is whether the mechanism for automatic control and verification of the accuracy of data in the declarations will become operational; whether the NAPC will be able to ensure cooperation with other authorities and receive access to external registers so that it is able to efficiently identify false data and prosecute for submission of false statements.
WHO IS TO JOIN E-DECLARATION IN 2017?
Starting from 1 January 2017, in addition to the declarants covered by the first stage, all other declarants will be obliged to submit their e-declarations, in particular:
members of local councils at all levels (village, settlement, city, district in cities, district, regional councils);
civil servants of the category C (for example, specialists, senior and lead specialists in the state authorities, other officials holding positions lower than the heads of units and their deputies);
officials of local self-government bodies of the categories 4-7 (for example, heads of departments and divisions of local executive committees, secretaries of city councils, mayors of the cities of district level, village and settlement heads, etc.);
military officials of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, State Special Communications Service and other military formations;
all the policemen;
persons of ranking and senior staff of the state criminal execution service, tax police, civil protection units, State Investigation Bureau, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine;
officials of the prosecutor’s offices, Security Service of Ukraine, State Investigation Bureau, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, diplomatic service, other state authorities;
officials of public law legal entities – those performing administrative or organizational functions in the state and municipal establishments and organizations, meaning not only the heads and their deputies. For example, chief accountants and heads of units of the state and municipal institutions and organizations, chief doctors, heads and deputy heads of organizations and their units – workshops managers, unit managers, etc.
To reiterate: the latest amendments to the law (see below) in no way exclude the following categories of officials from the e-declaration requirement:
heads of healthcare facilities of the central, regional, district, and city levels (cities of regional subordination, Kyiv and Sevastopol);
heads of higher educational institutions (universities) and their deputies;
President, First Vice President, Vice Presidents and chief academic secretaries of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and sectoral academies of sciences, heads of research institutions and other scientific entities;
all officials of state and municipal enterprises.
WHO IS NOT SUPPOSED TO SUBMIT AN E-DECLARATION?
employees of state authorities performing service functions (for example, secretaries, stenographers, archivists, clerks, guards if they do not perform administrative or organizational functions);
officials of private enterprises even if their shares belong to the government or the local community (however, officials of state and municipal enterprises should submit their declarations);
private and state notaries, attorneys.
Before the start of the second stage of e-declaration, the Parliament decided to exempt certain categories of public employees from the duty to submit e-declarations. In particular, the following categories have been excluded from the list of declarants:
officials of the state and municipal healthcare facilities of the village and settlement levels, officials of other healthcare facilities who are not heads of these facilities;
officials of the state and municipal pre-schools and schools, officials of higher educational institutions (universities) other than their heads and deputy heads;
officials of the arts and culture institutions (state and municipal theatres, museums, etc.);
officials of the state and municipal institutions in certain other areas (of welfare; social and professional rehabilitation of the disabled persons, including disabled children; social protection of the veterans of war and participants of the ATO; science; preservation of the national memory; physical education, sports, national and patriotic education).
Some of these exclusions are properly justified, whereas the notion of ‘officials’ is quite broad – it encompassed not only the heads, but all staff members of schools, hospitals, leisure facilities, etc. of all levels if they perform any administrative functions.
At the same time, we hope that the new exceptions would not cover employees of the state authorities (ministries and other public agencies) in the respective areas.
WHO IS TO SUBMIT E-DECLARATION FOR THE SECOND TIME?
To recap, the first wave of e-declaration campaign that started on 1 September 2016 covered approximately 100,000 persons. In 2017, they all are supposed to declare their assets and expenses for the second time.
The President, the Prime Minister, Government Members, Deputy Ministers, heads of state authorities and their deputies
Members of Parliament of Ukraine
About 7,000 judges, 10,000 prosecutors and 11,000 investigators
300 civil servants of the category A, in particular: heads of central executive agencies who are not members of the Cabinet of Ministers; heads of state local administrations; heads of secretariats of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and higher specialized courts, etc.;
63,000 civil servants of the category B, in particular: heads of the units of the Government Secretariat and their deputies; heads of the units of the ministries, other state authorities, and their deputies; heads of the territorial units of the state authorities; heads of the secretariats of the local courts and the appellate courts, heads of the units of the court secretariats and their deputies;
500 officials of local self-government bodies of the categories 1-3.
DOCUMENTS TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE E-SYSTEM
Starting from the second stage of e-declaration, all types of declarations have to be submitted to the new system, namely:
annual declarations to be submitted in the period from 1 January till 1 April;
declarations to be submitted before termination of office;
declarations to be submitted after termination of office, due by 1 April of the next year after such termination;
declarations of the candidates to the declarants’ positions.
It should be noted that starting from 1 January, everyone who applies to any public office or office in local self-government body or other public law legal entity is required to submit the e-declaration under the new template.
Moreover, any person who was dismissed or resigned in 2016 (anyone who stopped performing the functions of the state or local self-government) has to submit his or her declaration covering 2016 by 1 April 2017. It concerns every person considered a declarant, including those who were dismissed or resigned before 1 September 2016.
NOTIFICATION OF SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN ASSETS
Furthermore, starting from 1 January, all declarants are required to notify of any significant changes in their assets to the new system.
Such changes are reported if a declarant received income or acquired property worth over 50 living wages as effective on 1 January of the respective year. In 2017, it is UAH 80,000.
The changes should be reported within 10 days after such an income is received or an asset is acquired.
This electronic notification is submitted separately from a declaration. It aims to notify without delay of significant income or property acquired to prevent or detect a possible conflict of interest or illegal enrichment.
The notification becomes publicly available at the NAPC website immediately after it is submitted.
The next part of this article will explain how to submit a declaration and provide some basic information that will be helpful in filling in the declaration.
Dmytro Kotliar, an expert of Enhanced Public Sector Transparency and Integrity project of UN Development Programme in Ukraine supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, for Ukrainian Pravda