Spotlight: E-declaration system marks breakthrough in Ukraine's anti-corruption efforts
KIEV, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Bureau in the coming days is set to make public the first results of the inspection of electronic declarations, which were submitted by senior officials under the e-declaration system.
Under the system that was launched in September as a part of the government's anti-corruption efforts, Ukrainian public servants, politicians and managers of state enterprises have filed the information about their assets and incomes to a publicly available online database.
The implementation of the e-declaration project is carried out amid high hopes in the society that it may become a major milestone in Ukraine's fight against corruption, putting the corrupt officials, who attempt to hide their financial wealth, in a difficult position.
If the inspection of electronic declarations finds that the officials either have not filed their declarations or falsely declared their assets, they would face administrative or, in some cases, even criminal responsibility.
Commenting on the project, Maxim Burbak, chairman of the People's Front parliamentary faction in the ruling coalition, said that the e-declaration, the work on which has been carried out for two years, will become an effective tool to clear the Ukrainian governing bodies from unscrupulous officials.
"The purification process has started. The grounds for it were laid down back in 2014, when then-Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk presented to the parliament a bill, providing the legal framework for the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the introduction of electronic declarations," Burbak told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
At the first stage, only high-ranked officials, such as government and parliament members, top managers, heads of government agencies, judges and prosecutors, have filed their declarations.
Burbak emphasized that it is vitally important to start the second stage of the project without a delay, under which medium-level officials and other employees who are paid by the state, should also show their financial assets.
According to the lawmaker, it would help to eradicate the corruption at the local level.
"The second stage is important to show the society that our politics has become more transparent and closer to people," Burbak said.
Meanwhile, Anton Yatsenko, a lawmaker from the oppositional Vidrodzhennya parliamentary faction, has positively evaluated the e-declaration project, however warning against a premature optimism over its quick results.
"Of course, this is a breakthrough, but we should not perceive it as a kind of anti-corruption panacea," Yatsenko told Xinhua.
Currently, the e-declaration project is vulnerable as no clear legal instrument was established to check the veracity of the declarations. In addition, the officials are not obliged to show the sources of their incomes in the declarations. This creates the opportunity for abusive practices.
According to the calculations of local experts based on the filed declarations, the 423 members of the Ukrainian parliament together own about 480 million U.S. dollars in cash and on their bank accounts.
Such figures raise questions in the society about the origin of the funds as the monthly salary of the lawmaker in the East European country stood at less than 1,000 dollars.
Most of the deputies have claimed, without disclosing the sources of profits, that they have acquired their assets before being elected to the parliament.
To make impossible for the officials to hide the sources of their incomes, some experts and lawmakers suggest the introduction of the so-called "zero-declarations" .
Under the mechanism, the civil servants will be given an opportunity to disclose all their assets, without uncovering their origin, under a one-time declaration.
However, the officials will be obliged to provide the anti-corruption officials with information on all the sources of the assets acquired after filing the "zero declaration."
"On the one hand, the system should make possible the legalization of all capital assets in the country and attract investments. On the other hand, it will make further concealment of property impossible," Yatsenko said.[ Editor: Jiaming ]