Ukrainian MPs continue to work out draft laws that may be adopted by the next session of the Verkhovna Rada. Today we will consider drafts that change the procedure of quarantine restrictions, increase the salaries of police officers and “protect the state interests” through restrictions on wages.
To change the rules of the introduction of a lockdown
Cosponsors: 21 MPs from Servant of the People faction with Mykhailo Radutskyi, the head of the Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance, and Medical Insurance, as the first signatory, Yaroslav Dubnevych from For the Future group, Valerii Dubil from Batkivshchyna faction, and Oles Dovhyi, independent.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, businesses, government bodies, local governments, the Cabinet, and the President.
Summary of the bill:
- the Cabinet will have to get approval from the National Security and Defense Council if it wants to introduce a lockdown in more than 6 oblasts
- the Cabinet will be able to introduce a lockdown for 2 months at most and prolong it if an epidemiological situation requires
- defines the list of possible restrictions during a lockdown and procedures of how they should be introduced:
- limitation on movement and economic operations
- mandatory self-isolation, observation, and hospitalization
- additional requirements for entering and leaving a quarantine zone
- additional requirements for passenger transportation, state border crossing, educational process.
Why this is important: in August 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that some restrictions on human rights are allowed only under martial law or emergency state rules. These restrictions have to be proportional to the level of threat, with a clearly defined timeline, and compliant with the Constitution and laws. Thus, although the Court has not spelled it out, lockdown restrictions introduced by the Cabinet in March 2020 violate the Constitution.
What is right:
- the bill is an attempt to adhere to the decision by the Constitutional Court. With a year and a half delay, the cosponsors of the bill are trying to make lockdown restriction introduced by the Cabinet more constitutional
- the bill clearly defines the list of restrictions the Cabinet is allowed to impose.
What is wrong:
- the bill does not address the core problem of lockdown restrictions introduced in Ukraine to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions enforced by the Cabinet can be imposed only under martial law or emergency state. A decision to introduce lockdown restrictions has to be proposed by the President and approved by the Parliament. Although the cosponsors of the bill propose to involve the National Security and Defense Council, current lockdown restrictions will not become more constitutional or legitimate this way
- the Parliament cannot legally grant the NSDC the powers proposed by the bill. Since decisions made by this body are enacted by presidential decrees, the NSDC cannot address issues that are not under the presidential mandate.
“To protect national interests” by decreasing the remuneration
Cosponsors: 3 MPs from Servant of the People faction with Heorhii Mazurashu as the first signatory.
Who is affected: persons authorized to perform the functions of government or local self-government, members of their families, MPs, heads of central executive bodies and their deputies, state secretaries, management of the NACP, employees of the NABU and SBI, prosecutors, judicial experts, members of the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities and the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting.
Summary of the bill:
- until the military hostilities in the East of Ukraine cease and the control over the whole territory of Ukraine is restored, remuneration will be limited to at most 10 living salaries for the following people:
- heads and deputy heads of state and communal companies, enterprises, and organizations
- members of the Cabinet, their first deputies and deputies, state secretaries, heads of central executive bodies
- heads and deputy heads of government bodies
- head and deputy heads of the NACP, employees of the NACP apparatus
- prosecutors, employees of the SBI and NABU
- local government officials, employees of executive committees and other local self-government bodies
- judicial experts
- members of the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities and the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting
- the following restrictions apply to all persons authorized to perform the functions of government or local self-government:
- they cannot be citizens of other countries
- they and their family members cannot open or use foreign currency accounts in foreign banks.
What is wrong:
- the bill violates the Constitution by violating the legal security principle. The clause “until the territorial integrity is restored” is not clearly defined since there is no way to know when it will become true
- the bill makes institutions that must work independently dependent on each other: prosecution, the NABU, the SBI, state regulators, etc. This will create additional corruption risks, hinder the effectiveness and quality of these bodies’ work
- it is unclear why family members of persons authorized to perform the functions of government or local self-government cannot open and use accounts in foreign banks. The bill does not explain what is the danger in them having foreign bank accounts, does not provide reasons for this restriction, and does not define penalties if this requirement is not met
- bill’s law-making design has serious shortcomings: provisions that are supposed to be temporary are laid out in such a way that they will remain in force regardless of whether Ukraine will restore its territorial integrity or not.
To increase remuneration for police
Who is affected: employees of the National Police, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and Ukrainian citizens.
Summary of the bill:
- remuneration for police officers will consist of salary, additional payments, allowances for academic degree and length of service, and bonuses
- police officer’s salary will be at least 10 living salaries, additional payments will be calculated based on the length of service
Why this is important:
- on December 20, 2021, many police officers publicly declared that their remuneration is unsatisfactory, addressing both citizens and authorities. Some of them threatened to strike and some even left the service.
- on January 5, 2022, the head of the National Police Ihor Klymenko announced that the Cabinet allocated extra funding to increase remuneration for police
- on January 11, the Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskyi reported that the President ordered the Government to increase salaries for the employees of the Ministry by 10% and that this extra funding for police will be covered from the COVID-19 Fund
What is right: police officers will be paid more. According to the head of the National Police Ihor Klymenko, the budget of the National Police did not change from 2019 to 2021. As a result, an average salary of a police officer at the beginning of 2022 was 15% less than an average remuneration in Ukraine.
What is wrong:
- the bill requires changes to the government budget To implement it, the Parliament will have to review budget indicators and allocate additional funding to increase the remuneration for police
- if the increase is to be paid from the COVID-19 Fund, there will be not enough money to cover the whole year. According to Ihor Klymenko, indexation alone requires near ₴2.5 bln
- the fact that a bill addressing this problem was submitted proves that the Government and the Ministry of Internal affairs failed at planning and developing a consistent long-term state policy. Although they knew about the lack of funding for police, no steps to solve the problem had been taken in advance.
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