«On Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (on Decentralization of Power)»
The Professional Government Association would like to express our deep concern regarding several key provisions of the Bill # 2598 and the potential negative consequences for local democracy and decentralization effort if the bill is adopted in the proposed form.
- The Association opposes the adoption of the changes to the Constitution proposed by the bill No. 2598 without conducting proper public consultations to allow the civil society and expert community to express their position. The draft law has been submitted by the President to the Verkhovna Rada, bypassing public consultations. This is likely to adversely affect the reform as a whole and create a negative precedent of amending the Ukraine’s Constitution without proper public participation. We urge the President to send the draft law for legal expertise and make it available for public discussion, before the Verkhovna Rada requests an official opinion from the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, as outlined in the article 146, paragraph 2, subparagraph 2 of the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
- The Association warns that the bill, in its current version, strengthens the “presidential vertical” instead of helping the decentralization effort. The introduction of the “Prefect” , a position with the powers and status envisaged by the bill risks giving the President excessive control over the local governing bodies. Endowing the President with the authority to terminate the local community head, change the community or regional council composition, is unacceptable due to risk of excessive interference in the local self-government bodies work. Furthermore, the draft law does not contain a clearly outlined procedure for such interference, which could lead to conflicting interpretations.
- The Association emphasizes the importance of not adopting amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine that adversely affect the local civil service institutionalization and the local governments’ work. For example, reducing the term of authority for local self-government bodies ( to 4 years) and prefects (to 3 years), gives elected bodies on the national level more time to implement programs and tasks than elected bodies at the local level.
The aforementioned is by no means a final and complete list of objections, to Bill No. 2598. Professional Government Association believes that proper amendments to the proposed bill are only possible through discussions and consultations with the public and the expert community.