MPs propose to introduce a competition for Constitutional Court candidates and to decrease remuneration for themselves to a minimum wage. Meanwhile, the Cabinet plans to change excise taxes on fuel.
Competitive selection of Constitutional Court candidates
Draft bill # 7662 of August 12, 2022
Cosponsors: a group of MPs from the Servant of the People faction with Denys Maslov as the first signatory
Who is affected: Constitutional Court candidates, Ukrainian citizens, businesses, government bodies, local governments, the Congress of Judges, the Parliament, and the President
Summary of the bill:
- the bill proposes to create the Advisory expert group that will check the integrity and competency of Constitutional Court candidates. Using the results of its check, the Advisory group will prepare a list of recommended candidates for the President, the Parliament, and the Congress of Judges that will appoint judges of the Constitutional Court. Candidates who failed to make it to the list will be excluded from the competition
- the Advisory group will consist of six people: a representative from the President, the Parliament, the Congress of Judges, and the Venice Commission, and two representatives from international organizations
- MPs will appoint their representative to the Advisory group by at least 226 votes. Candidates will be proposed by factions, with only one candidate per a faction
- the Advisory group will propose to the President, the Parliament, or the Congress of Judges three candidates per a vacant position. To make a decision, the Advisory group will need to agree by at least four votes out of six.
What is right:
- the introduction of real competition and professional checks for Constitutional Court candidates. At the moment, the competition consists only of a formal compliance check and interviews with the candidates — without any real competency check
- creates a single body that will check the knowledge and integrity of Constitutional Court candidates.
What is wrong:
- the bill was proposed too late. MPs submitted it only after the Parliament had already filled its quota in the Constitutional Court. In February of 2021, MPs appointed Viktor Kychun, in July 2022 — Olha Sovhyria
- procedure for creating the Advisory group violates the Constitution. The President and the Verkhovna Rada do not have the authority to delegate their representatives to such bodies. Thus, the procedure can be challenged in court, and judges of the Constitutional Court appointed under this procedure could be dismissed later
- parliamentary representatives to the Advisory group are supposed to be nominated by factions only. It will make it harder for an independent candidate to be elected and will increase political pressure on the Advisory group
- today, there are two vacant positions in the Constitutional Court under the quota of the Congress of Judges. In September, there will be one under the presidential quota. It is unlikely that candidates for these vacant positions will be appointed under the new regulation since it will take time to prepare and amend the proposed bill.
Excise tax on fuel
Draft bill # 7668 of August 14, 2022
Sponsor: the Cabinet
Who is affected: drivers, public transportation employees, Ukrainian citizens, businesses, government bodies, and local governments
Summary of the bill: the Government wants to replace a zero excise tax on fuel with an excise tax of “100 Euro per 1000 liters.” In particular, for motor petrol, other kinds of petrol, oil products, heavy distillates, liquefied gas, butane, and isobutene.
Why this is important: according to the explanatory note, the Ukrainian State Road Fund does not have any sources of funding since a zero excise tax on fuel and tax-free importation of cars were introduced. During the seven months of this year, the State Road Fund received only 0.1% of the projected revenue.
What is right: the State Road Fund will be able to operate. Money from the Fund is spent exclusively on road construction, repairs, and maintenance.
What is wrong: according to projections by MP Yaroslav Zhelezniak, the bill will increase the price of petrol by 4 or 4.5 hryvnias per liter. Higher fuel prices will result in higher prices on all goods and services.
Cuts on benefits and remuneration for MPs
Draft bill # 7637 of August 5, 2022
Sponsor: Anton Yatsenko, independent
Who is affected: MPs, citizens, and businesses
Summary of the bill: while martial law is in force:
- MPs will not get compensation for travel costs, rent of an accommodation or a hotel room, or expenses incurred in the exercise of their duties
- MP’s salary will be set at a minimum wage (₴6500) and will not be complemented with any bonuses.
What is wrong:
- a position of an MP is one of the most important offices in Ukraine, and it has to bring proper remuneration. A significant decrease in MPs’ salaries will discredit and devalue the position and the Verkhovna Rada: instead of addressing pressing issues, MPs submit and discuss populist draft bills
- proper remuneration for MPs is one of the safeguards that guarantee their independence. Significant cuts on their salaries will make MPs look for illegal sources of income, in particular, for money from oligarchs or the aggressor state. Thus, the bill creates risks to the national security of Ukraine
- in the explanatory note, there are no economic projections on how the bill will improve the economic situation or boost the defensive capacities of the state. It looks like the aim of the bill is not to address some pressing problem but just to get political bonuses from the attention to a manipulative topic
- the bill has several lawmaking shortcomings. In particular, provisions that are supposed to be temporary are formulated as permanent. Also, the bill does not specify whether it will be applied to martial law declared in Ukraine on February 22, although in the explanatory note the author appeals to the present situation. In other words, the bill has not been prepared properly.
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