Destruction of parliamentarism and restoration of competitions for civil service positions: new bill passed by Verkhovna Rada

23 February 2021
Destruction of parliamentarism and restoration of competitions for civil service positions: new bill passed by Verkhovna Rada
Home > Monitoring > Destruction of parliamentarism and restoration of competitions for civil service positions: new bill passed by Verkhovna Rada

At the special plenary meeting of February 23, the Parliament took a vote on a single draft bill with presidential amendments restoring proper competitions for civil service positions. However, the adopted document also significantly reshapes the balance of power in Ukraine and presents a threat to democracy.

Bill with presidential amendments on civil service (4531)

Status: adopted by the Parliament, awaits to be signed by the President.

Who could be affected:

  • MPs, the Prime Minister, ministers, acting ministers, and deputy ministers (the bill defines the list of powers of acting ministers)
  • civil servants, candidates for civil service positions, and civil servants appointed via “lockdown” competitions (amendments on competitions for civil service positions)
  • Ukrainian citizens (the quality of state policies will inevitably deteriorate).

What does it change:

  • acting ministers will be granted the same powers as cabinet ministers
  • changes for civil servants:
  • civil servants of category A will be protected from been groundlessly dismissed. At the moment, the Cabinet, ministers, and other top officials of central executive bodies have the power during their first four months in office to dismiss civil servants of category A
  • “lockdown” competitions for civil service positions will no longer be conducted, regular competitions will be restored within the six months after the bill is passed
  • civil servants appointed under the “lockdown” procedure will have to reapply for their positions on equal grounds with other candidates and can keep their positions only while proper competitions are in progress but no longer than nine months after the bill is passed
  • people over 65 will no longer be able to occupy civil service positions.

What is rightalthough a half a year transition period is too long, the bill does restore proper competitions for civil service positions.

What is wrong:

  • the Cabinet will be free from the requirement to get the parliamentary consent for appointing ministers. Since acting ministers will have the same powers as ministers proper, the Cabinet will not need to cooperate with the Parliament on the issue
  • according to the Constitution, the authority to appoint ministers belongs to the Parliament. The bill allows the Cabinet to ignore this constitutional requirement
  • without the authority to appoint ministers, the Verkhovna Rada will have no tools to ensure parliamentary control over the Government — a primary task of any parliament in a democracy
  • with the power to appoint new acting ministers at will, the Cabinet will no longer be accountable to the people. If some government policy fails, there will be no one to hold politically responsible for this failure
  • relations between ministers and MPs will deteriorate even further and thus produce even more conflicts between the Cabinet and the Verkhovna Rada. The Cabinet will be able to act unilaterally and MPs will have no authority to dismiss acting ministers. Such a situation could result in a new political crisis.

Voted for the bill: Servant of the People faction (226), groups For the Future (18) and Trust (17).

Why this is important: the Shmyhal Government is understaffed for a year now and cannot function efficiently:

  • the Minister of Energy has not been appointed
  • for a long time, there were no ministers of education and culture
  • the Parliament has twice failed to approve the candidature of Acting Minister of Energy Yurii Vitrenko for a minister — on December 17 and on January 28. Since March of 2020, Yurii Vitrenko is the fourth Acting Minister of Energy.

Why this is dangerous:

  • the system of checks and balances that the President is pretending to defend does not mean that each branch should be absolutely independent from others. No branch of power should be allowed to function without restraints
  • according to the Constitution, the key functions of the Parliament are to appoint and control the Government. The bill unconstitutionally deprives the Parliament of these powers.

How to salvage the balance of powers:

  • President Zelensky should veto the bill
  • MPs have to draft and adopt a new bill that will include restrictions on the authority of acting ministers.

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