Ukraine without corruption: unfulfilled dream or obsession

Author : Elena Goncharova

Source : 112 Ukraine

Once again Ukraine proved to be one of the most corrupted countries in the world on the same level with Uganda and Comoros
16:03, 9 December 2015

"Ukraine without corruption" - this slogan is listenable, but illogical for the mind. The generally recognized fact is that bribery and embezzlement exist throughout the world. The only difference is in the level, modes of transmission and the size of bribes. In Ukraine, the most fertile ground for corruption is the relationship of politics and business, to which the whole economy is connected.

Eloquent testimonies to this are the recent statements of exposing the Odessa Regional State Administrator Mikheil Saakashvili of corruption schemes in the highest offices of the country, "due to" which a number of oligarchs send out approximately $5 billion from the country annually.

The main question: how society and the state will respond to these facts? The answer to it is a realistic assessment of the situation with corruption in the country and the fight against it.

Corruption as viewed by business: anti-rating is headed by the tax, customs and land authorities

Ukrainian business is not satisfied with the results of the fight against corruption in public institutions. This is evidenced by the results of a social survey, which was conducted by Transparency International together with its partners. The average score of anti-corruption progress was 0.8 points, which is not significantly different from the previous measurement in the spring of this year.

Evaluation was conducted on a scale of (-5) to (5), where 0 meant invariability of a situation. 19.5% of businessmen gave the negative evaluation to anti-corruption measures of state bodies. 52% believe that the corruption situation remains unchanged, and only 3.4% are completely satisfied with the changes and set the highest score.

According to the survey The level of perception of corruption in business. The second wave, which presented by Transparency International Ukraine, Privatbank, auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC Ukraine) and GfK Ukraine, in the past six months, the level of corruption has worsened especially in the service sector . There are positive trends in agriculture.

Among the leaders of corrupt anti-rating out of the central authorities are Tax Service, Customs and the Agency of Land Resources. Registration documents for land and property, as well as the issuance of permits pointed out to be the most common compulsion to bribe.

The Transparency International Ukraine note that one of the reasons why people pay bribes is a high social tolerance for corruption. Many people do not consider bribes evil. The officials also took bribes more often because of the low salaries. In addition, officials are not afraid of getting improper advantage as a serious precedent of punishment for such actions.

According to Director of the Center for Anti-Corruption Research Igor Pechenkin, hostages of corruption in the business by a chain reaction become consumers of goods and services. On their shoulders are all the costs borne by entrepreneur, including bribes.

A long series of setbacks at various stages of production of goods or services is accumulated and leads to increase in price. When it comes to ordinary consumers, they have to pay for all, - said Igor Pechenkin.

In addition, in a company that buys goods with setback (Ed. - for example, equipment, office supplies, raw materials for production, and so on), business costs rise and profits fall, after which they must be catched up.

What is the corruption in Europe?

According to the head of the NGO International Anti-Corruption Assembly in Portugal, Vyacheslav  Oleynik, the main cause of corruption in this country is tax and charges evasion. In other situations, standard for the Ukrainian, the Portuguese do not give bribes.

"To no one in Portugal comes the idea to give a bribe to doctors, teachers or police, because they have done their job. But the cases when someone wants to get around taxes, characteristic for the society, and here you can’t cope without the help of officials" - says Vyacheslav Oleynik.

In addition, the cases of bribery and the issuance of documents are recorded. For example, in Portugal, in May of this year, the whole network of corrupt civil servants and officials who unlawfully issued driver's licenses was unmasked. Now, the law breakers will pay for their actions at the court.

"Criminal cases were opened on this fact, investigation is underway. And more than a hundred people sat in the dock," - says Vyacheslav Oleynik.

According to the head of the NGO International Anti-Corruption Assembly in Germany, Mr. Ihle Hugo, in his state, there are two types of corruption: hidden (this relationship between the officials) and open (between people). However, Germany is in 12th place out of 175 countries in the ranking of corruption.

"Yes, indeed bribery recorded in Germany, but this is quite rare happening. We have noted that the higher income of population, the lower the level of corruption", - says the Ihle Hugo.

The press service of Transparency International Ukraine says that there are no final conclusions on the level of corruption among countries in 2015 yet. They will be released in January 2016. And in 2014 Ukraine's performance in the Corruption Perception Index from Transparency International there were 26 points out of possible 100, and 142th out of 175 positions.

"Ukraine has once again proved to be on the same level with Uganda and Comoros as one of the most corrupted countries in the world. These disappointing results, according to the international anti-corruption community, caused by inconspicuous steps in the destruction of corruption schemes, an inheritance from all regimes since independence of Ukraine. After all, in spite of the "change of the facade", Ukraine continues to stagnate. Recent laws have not yet yielded tangible results in the anti-corruption fight",- noted in Transparency International.

These findings are confirmed by figures in the ranking. In 2013, Ukraine received 25 points and 144th position, in 2012 - 26 points and 144th place. The lower the score, the closer a country is to the abyss of corruption. Any result less than 30 points from the point of view of Transparency International, is considered a "disgrace to the nation."

Experts agree that the corruption is not eradicated completely. But we need to strive to its index position compared to other countries to become higher.

Which corruption in Ukraine is not profitable for foreign investors

According to the president of Ukrainian Analytical Center, Alexander Okhrimenko, in the U.S. and the European countries that we call corruption schemes, are often no less than in Ukraine. But in most cases these relationships are given to the civilized mind and formalized.

"When the EU, the U.S. or Japan give us money for the fight against corruption, they want that Ukrainian corruption schemes were made civilized as they do. For example, in the same Japan, one judge does not give bribes directly. The lawyers receive large fees through charitable foundations, that belong to the families of the ministers Themis, and they make voluntary contributions, so actually bribing judges. In the U.S., everyone understands that the lobby is a common corruption. For "the right decision" money are taken legally and considerable money. There is no other way of solving the problem "- said Alexander Okhrimenko.

However, this approach allows everyone to see whose interests this or that politician stands for and what it receives. Okhrimenko is sure that major foreign investors and businessmen are just interested to eradicate the corruption in Ukraine, when the money is transferred from hand to hand, so that, if necessary, to pay for the solution of various issues to do so could be legally and officially.

"Then any American or European investors will always be able to explain the inspection and its shareholders that the payment of several million legal fees is not a bribe, and the cost of "entering the market" or "representational expenses". This has long been successfully operating abroad and now foreigners need this to become the norm of work in Ukraine", - says Okhrimenko.

However, all of the above concerns are more or less connected to stable economies and large businesses. Meanwhile, in Ukraine it is not talked about it. So far, it’s unknown when the ATO will end and what will be the outcome of the ATO in the east of the country, and even to the Ministry of Defense publicly expressed distrust. For example, Transparency International has published a study on the level of corruption in the defense sector in the member countries of NATO and the alliance partners. Defense Anti-Corruption Index classifies countries on a scale from A (very low risk of corruption) to F (critical risk). Ukraine came in the group D with a very high risk of corruption.

According to the rating of the director of Transparency International on issues of defense and security Catherine Dixon called on the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine to remember their anti-corruption commitments.

"Delay of reforms is critical for stability, economic development and international donor confidence. If because of corruption Ukrainian soldiers did not receive money or have to buy equipment for their money, it ruins the military efficiency and discourages people" - says Catherine Dixon.

How to punish corrupt official

According to the NGO Gromadskyy Radnick, Igor Engel, in most cases the most effective way to fight against corruption is a public boycott. For example, the refusal of goods, services and jobs from the oligarchs, businessmen, officials, who was shown as the takers. To punish corrupt official according to the law is often quite troublesome thing, and, as a rule, every official has links that will help to avoid responsibility or significantly reduce the damage for them.

"In Ukraine, there is a presumption of innocence. The procedure for evidence of an offense is complex and laced on execution. For example, it is not so easy to prove that the money found in the workplace of officials are bribes, but not his personal savings," - said Igor Engel.

The press service of Transparency International Ukraine says that the study analyzed 100 recent convictions under article 368 of the Criminal Code (Ed. - Obtain illegal benefits), which are placed in the Unified State Register of judgments and concluded that jail gets only fifth of the exposed as bribetakers.

"In the analysis of sentences it seems that to take bribes for government official is much more favorable than for the ordinary worker. For example, a doctor who was caught on a bribe of 1 thousand UAH will have to pay the country a fine of 25 thousand UAH, that is 25 times greater than the sum bribes . And if you took the bribe of tax collector, and its volume was 15 thousand UAH, then, according to the law, the penalty would be taken from him is a little more than the sum of bribes - 17 thousand UAH.

In addition, Transparency International Ukraine and the online edition of the litigation First instance in the framework of the project Judges under the gun made the Top 10 of questionable judgments on corruption crimes.

But it turned out that 66% of Ukrainians believe the judicial sphere is the most corrupted in comparison to other state bodies, so it is the disappointing conclusion that within two years of the new government the institutions of the state, which enjoyed the trust of the society and that could start a real fight against corruption in the country didn’t appear.

There is still hope for the newly established Anti-Corruption Bureau and the anti-corruption prosecutor's office, but the whole story of their creation suggests that further their effectiveness is questionable. Although in order to draw conclusions, it is necessary to wait for the actual results of their investigations and the trial.

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