At the end of the year, MPs, the President, and the Cabinet of Ministers proposed several controversial initiatives. MPs from Holos, Servant of the People, and Trust have submitted a draft bill to grant some political rights for citizens of 16 years and older. The Cabinet allocated ₴69 mln from the COVID Fund for medical establishment managed by the State Management of Affairs. Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky has given the Cabinet orders concerning the development of marine scientific research. We give a detailed overview of these initiatives in our analytical digest.
Political rights for underage citizens
Draft bill # 6402 of December 7, 2021
Cosponsors: 7 MPs from Holos faction, 4 MPs from Servant of the People faction, and 1 MP from Trust group.
Who is affected: citizens of age between 16 and 18 years, local governments, and government bodies.
Summary of the bill: citizens of age between 16 and 18 years will be granted the following rights:
- to sign petitions to government bodies and local governments
- to join political parties
- to become founders and members of civic associations
- to submit proposals to charters of their territorial communities
- to run for positions of heads of territorial communities and local councilors.
What is wrong:
- it is unconstitutional to grant underage citizens the right to be elected heads of communities or local councilors. According to the Constitution, only citizens over 17 years old have the right to vote in an election or referendum. The right to be elected is derivative from the right to vote so the minimum age for candidates in elections cannot be lower than the minimum age for voters. The constitutional design envisages that a person in office must have more skills and experience than a person that votes. That is why the Constitution sets a higher minimum age for those running for parliament or president. The minimum age for elected officials in local governments thus cannot be lower than the voting age
- there is no need to allow underage citizens to join political parties. Parties are a tool for coming into political power and persons under 18 cannot run for any office
- it is redundant to grant underage citizens the right to become founders or members of civic associations. The law already guarantees them the right of association via youth organizations.
- political parties and local governments have all means necessary to interact and cooperate with underage citizens. Politicians are allowed to create youth organizations for engaging underage citizens in party activities
- local governments are free to engage youth as a stakeholder group while preparing local policies. They can also open youth centers, organize public events, and adopt youth policies.
Allocation of budget funding for countering the pandemic by medical establishments of the State Management of Affairs
Cabinet resolution # 1584-р of December 2, 2021
Decision-maker: the Cabinet.
Who is affected: employees and patients of medical establishments managed by the State Management of Affairs.
Summary of the resolution: ₴69 mln from the COVID-19 Fund will be allocated for medical establishment under the management of the State Management of Affairs. This funding will be allocated for procuring drugs, medical supplies, personal protection equipment, and medical equipment.
What is right: it is necessary to provide more funding for countering the pandemic since the number of hospitalizations and new cases of COVID is higher than was planned in the budget projections.
What is wrong:
- even the existence of the State Management of Affairs is a severe violation of the Constitution. The SMA is de facto subordinate to the President although the Constitution does not grant him such power
- there is no transparency in how the SMA and its subordinate organizations use their funding and assets. Thus, the Cabinet has ignored serious corruption risks while allocating additional millions for the COVID Fund.
- to dissolve the State Management of Affairs
- to transfer its assets and subordinate organizations to the State Property Fund of Ukraine and other state institutions
- to adopt a law that will ensure that support services for operations and maintenance of the President’s day-to-day work are organized in accordance with the Constitution.
Presidential assistance for marine scientific research
Presidential decree # 617/2021
Decision-maker: the President.
Who is affected: the Cabinet, the National Academy of Science, and the Ministry of Education and Science.
Summary of the decree: to make Ukraine a maritime state and to boost marine scientific research, the President gave the Cabinet the following orders:
- to prepare an action plan on relaunch and development of marine scientific research and academic research fleet
- to evaluate the experience of state research institutions in the field
- to enhance the infrastructure for the academic research fleet stationing
- to ensure the construction of scientific research vessels by shipbuilding companies of Ukraine in 2022-2030.
What is wrong:
- the decree is unconstitutional: the President does not have any authority to give orders to the Cabinet
- no issue addressed by the decree is within the mandate of the President. Instead, they are the responsibility of the Cabinet, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the National Academy of Science
- President’s meddling with issues within the mandate of the executive branch hinders the development and implementation of unified state policies and transparent decision-making. Also, it prevents the Parliament from exercising its controlling function over the executive branch.
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