The Ministry of Finance says that the order, which obliges to return unused state subvention funds, is restricted "for official use" and, therefore, is not available to the public. This is the answer Civil Network OPORA received to its information request.
In early September, mass media had informedthat the State Treasury Service of Ukraine, instructed by the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, demanded that local communities return funds for social and economic development of territories that were transferred shortly before.
Motives for such decision of the Ministry are unknown. Thus, OPORA's representative had sent an information request to the Ministry of Finance, requesting a copy of the relevant order, to understand its reasons and grounds. However, we were informed in its response that the requested information is restricted because the order has a stamp "for official use". OPORA will request this information repeatedly from the Government, emphasizing it is socially important and must not be classified.
According to the Legal Advisor of the Civic Network OPORA Tetiana Yuzviak, the restriction "for official use" may not automatically serve as a ground for refusing to submit the abovementioned document upon request under the Law of Ukraine on Access to Public Information. Refusing to provide such document, a government body should justify the refusal with solid reasons, specified in the Law on Access to Public Information. Moreover, it is a big question why such document is restricted "for official use", as long as it concerns the administration of state resources. According to the legislation, such information should be a priori open to the public as socially important.
We would like to remind that on January 23, 2019, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine had published a resolutiondistributing 824 million UAH on social and economic development, particularly on 2,805 objects and events in different oblasts of Ukraine.
On June 5, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine supported a resolutionon the second allocation of state budget subventions on social and economic development of certain territories to local budgets. Thus, almost 1 billion of budget funds were allocated by this resolution. The decision was taken without any discussion together with a significant part of other draft acts.
On the very same day, OPORA published a statementconcerning prevention of the use of budget resources for campaign purposes. At that time, OPORA's representatives recorded more than one and a half thousand caseswhen budget resources were used for indirect campaigning in support of MPs and parliamentary political parties. Most of these cases concern subventions on social and economic development of territories.
On July 10, in the middle of election campaign, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine distributedanother 900 million UAH of subventions on social and economic development of territories. Thus, financing was allocated on 1,885 objects.
On July 21,the early parliamentary elections were held, which resulted in the formation of a new Government on August 30, chaired by Oleksii Honcharuk.
On September 10, 2019,territorial bodies of the State Treasury Service, instructed by the Ministry of Finance as of 09.06.2019 #055220-18-10/188DSK, blocked financing allocated on social and economic development of territories and appealed to local self-government bodies requesting written consent for the return of these funds.
On September 11,the Association of Ukrainian Cities sent an appealto the Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Honcharuk requesting to oblige the Ministry of Finance to withdraw its letter with instructions for the State Treasury Service. The Association of Ukrainian Cities insists that there are no legal grounds to return the abovementioned funds.
On September 20,the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Oksana Markarova presented the draft State Budget of Ukraine for 2020 in the Verkhovna Rada. The document does not include any subventions on social and economic development.