President campaigned for “just tariffs”, appointed head of SSU department for protection of national statehood and council promoting small business development

22 January 2021
President campaigned for “just tariffs”, appointed head of SSU department for protection of national statehood and council promoting small business development
Home > Monitoring > President campaigned for “just tariffs”, appointed head of SSU department for protection of national statehood and council promoting small business development

Although holidays have ended, Ukrainian politics still is not back to the regular schedule. While things are quiet, the President appointed a high-profile SSU official, promised the people “just prices” on gas, and established a discussion platform to start a dialogue with sole proprietors that have recently protested against lockdown restrictions. Also, despite being the guarantor of the observance of the Constitution, he violated it several times.

Social justice in tariff rates

Who is affected: the Cabinet, the Ministry of Energy, National joint-stock company Naftogaz of Ukraine, gas market companies, and Ukrainian citizens.

What does the decree change: orders the Cabinet to lower residential gas tariff and set it at 6.99 kopeks per cubic meter abandoning current principle of unregulated market prices.

What is wrong:

  • The President has no authority to influence tariff rates or pricing. That power belongs to local governments and the national regulator for state regulation of energy and public utilities.
  • The President has no authority to influence the work of the Cabinet of Ministers or give it any orders.
  • Legislation on the gas market requires for tariff rates to be defined by market prices. In the long run, tariff rates defined by the state leads to losses for the government budget and helps the oligarchs that are the beneficiaries of non-transparent pricing.

Viable alternatives:

  • Ensure real independence of the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy and Public Utilities that sets tariff rates and the Anti-Monopoly Committee that has to prevent the residential gas supplier (a de facto monopolist) from exploiting its advantage.
  • Ensure that citizens can change their gas supplier. At the moment, gas supplying companies set artificial obstacles for consumers to do that.

New head of SSU department Oleksandr Kuksa

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens and employees of the Security Service of Ukraine.

What does the decree change: President Zelensky has appointed Oleksandr Kuksa the head of the department for the protection of national statehood of the Secret Service of Ukraine. This department de facto works as a political counterintelligence unit and was often suspected of engaging its employees into persecution of the opposition.

What is wrong:

  • According to the Constitution, the President can only submit proposals concerning candidatures for the Head of the SSU to the Verkhovna Rada. Ukrainian presidents, however, abuse the fact that the Law on the SSU does not comply with the Constitution and appoint other SSU officials: deputy heads, department heads, and heads of SSU oblast offices.
  • According to Slidstvo.Info, Oleksandr Kuksa’s family owns expensive real estate in the center of Kyiv (registered in his mother’s name). Advocacy Advisory Panel, a group of Heavily Hundred’s lawyers, claims that there are documented proofs that the newly-appointed head of the SSU department has been involved in the attempt to forcefully disperse the Maidan on January 19, 2014. These facts call into question whether the reputation of Oleksandr Kuksa is compliant with his new position.

Viable alternatives:

  • Enhance the procedure of appointing heads of military units and law enforcement agencies. For now, people of doubtful reputation are often appointed to such positions.
  • Introduce committee hearings as a part of the recruitment procedure for key positions in the defense and security sector. That will make it less likely for unworthy candidates to be appointed. On the other hand, that also will increase public trust in worthy candidates.

First composition of Council for Promotion of Small Business Development

Who is affected: the Office of the President, the Cabinet of Ministries, and small businesses.

What does the decree change: Zelensky appointed the composition of a newly-created advisory body under the President — the Council for Promotion of Small Business Development. It will include three representatives of the Office of the President, the Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, representatives of business associations, several representatives of ministries and central executive bodies.

What is wrong:

  • The President has no authority to influence the economy. The Cabinet, especially the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, is the only body with powers to develop and implement the state economic policy and define relations between the state and business.
  • By creating new policy-making bodies parallel to the Government the President goes against the separation of power principle and hinders the development and implementation of unified state policies. In doing so, he interferes with the stable and constituent work of the civil service and makes it harder for people to understand its work.