The summer parliamentary session is almost over, but MPs continue to submit important draft bills. One of the bills has already been criticized by the EU delegation; two others address the issues of academic honesty in higher education and transparency of parliamentary committee meetings and hearings.
“Protection” of Ukrainian domestic industries (3739)
Cosponsors: a group of MPs from different factions, including chairperson of Batkivshchyna faction Yuliia Tymoshenko, chairperson of Servant of the People faction Davyd Arakhamiia, co-head of Opposition Platform — For Life faction Yurii Boiko, co-chairperson of European Solidarity faction Iryna Herashchenko, head of the group Trust Oleh Kulinich.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, Ukrainian and foreign business, government bodies, local government, and the Cabinet.
What does it change:
- the bill proposes an additional qualification criterion for public procurements: localization level. It will be calculated as a percentage of raw materials, components, parts, and services provided by domestic manufacturers and suppliers
- to meet a certain minimum localization level will be a mandatory requirement in public procurements from January 1, 2021 to January 1, 2031. The level is supposed to be gradually increased: 25 to 40% (depending on the type of items that are procured) in 2021—2023 and 40 to 60% in 2024—2031
- localization level will be calculated by a designated body according to a methodology approved by the Cabinet.
What is wrong:
- there is no clearly defined methodology to calculate a localization level in the bill. Thus, in practice new requirements could be used for the benefit of some business groups, and instead of protecting domestic industries the law will facilitate corruption and abuse of power
- the bill could contradict international obligations of Ukraine under the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. According to the Constitution, “international treaties that are in force, agreed to be binding by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, are part of the national legislation of Ukraine”, so domestic legislation cannot contradict obligations under international agreements
- according to the investigative journalists from Nashi Hroshi, the Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine Matti Maasikas allegedly criticized restrictions proposed by the bill, because they undermine basic principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination, denies foreign business a possibility to participate in public procurements, and thus are incompatible with the Association Agreement.
Stricter penalties for academic dishonesty (3758 and 3759)
Cosponsors: a group of MPs from different factions, Inna Sovsun (Holos faction) as first signatory.
Who is affected: students, recipients of higher education degrees: BA, MA, PhD (in arts), candidate of Science, Dr. Habil.
What does it change:
- the bill adds new clauses to academic dishonesty definition:
- stealing the credit for an academic text
- ghost-writing an academic text
- persons found guilty of academic dishonesty will not be eligible to occupy positions of university heads, ministers, or any positions in civil service.
Why the bill is important: acting Minister of Education and Science Serhii Shkarlet was accused of academic dishonesty by anti-plagiarism initiative Dissergate.
What is right: academic dishonesty gravely undermines public trust both in scientist guilty of it and in an institution he or she works for (or even is a head of).
What is wrong: to deprive a person of the right to occupy positions of ministers, university heads or any positions in civil service for life is not a proportionate penalty. State institutions should decide for themselves: either to cooperate with such persons (and take responsibility for that in the eyes of the public) or to refuse such cooperation. Proposed penalties should not be imposed by law.
More transparency of parliamentary committees (3745)
Cosponsors: a group of MPs from different faction, Oleksandra Ustinova (Holos faction) as first signatory.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, NGOs, and MPs.
What does it change: committee meetings and hearings will be broadcasted live on Verkhovna Rada official website.
What is right: MPs work in the committees is an important part of their duties. Committee meetings, though, are rarely broadcasted, so the public often remain unaware about decisions made there (unless some media or NGOs decides to attend a meeting and broadcast it).
What else could be done: it is important not just to provide live broadcast, but also to record and release video of committee meetings and hearings. It is reasonable to add these requirements to the proposed bill.
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