OPORA has tracked incidents when budget resources seemed to be used for early indirect campaigning purposes in support of MPs and political parties. Thus, subventions for social and economic development of territories, funds of the State Regional Development Fund, the State Road Fund, and other budget programs and resources, became the subject of our research. Our objective was to detect any public activeness of politicians, which may be connected to misuse of budget funds for the purposes of indirect campaigning.
In 2016 and 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers has distributed almost 8 billion UAH subvention funds for social and economic development of territories Besides that, Ukrainian government allocated 3 more billion UAH for the development of territories this year. 2 billion UAH are still not distributed.
According to the results of preliminary researches of Civil Network OPORA, the mechanism of state subventions has became an increasingly popular among politicians aimed at territorial communities, when many voters are engaged in numerous, but not costly projects. Dissemination of financing among tens and hundreds of unsystematic, or even petty expenses, makes it impossible to reach a high efficiency of state subventions. The percentage of objects, which received less that 50 thousand UAH state financing, was 13% in 2016 and reached 26% last year. The percentage of such objects in Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers #423-p of 13 June is around 23% this year. The absence of planning, justified priorities and precise assessment criteria for the projects doesn't reflect the principles of stable regional development, but is definitely in line with campaigning purposes.
Ukrainian Parliament has approved the bunget for 2019 on 23 November. Thus, it now has new state financing programs, which were absent in the last year's budget of expenses: subvention for increasing the quality of education (1.5 billion UAH), Presidential Fund for the support of educational and scientific programs (1 billion UAH), and a number of subventions on repairs of pools, multi-functional playgrounds and sports facilities amounting over a half billion UAH. Besides that, Ukraine has traditionally budgeted almost 5 billion UAH for social and economic development of territories. Thus, it's important not only to guarantee the best and targeted use of these funds, but also to prevent their misuse for the purposes for indirect campaigning by potential electoral subjects.
“I would like to emphasize that MPs have the certain rights, authorities and duties. They mostly concern law-making and oversight, and have little relation to guaranteeing local needs of communities, particularly through material support,” – stated Head of the Board of Civil Network OPORA Olha Aivazovska.
She also said that in June-October 2018, observers of Civil Network OPORA have detected 748 incidents when infrastructural projects and social and economic events seemed to be used for early indirect campaigning purposes in support of MPs of Ukraine and/or political parties. In 75% (560) of the detected incidents, subvention for social and economic development was used for this purposes, in 7% (52) – Road Fund, and in 2% (17) – State Regional Development Fund. In another 16% (119) incidents of potential campaigning, we didn't manage to determine to which sector budget funds belonged. The percentage of health care and educational state programs used for campaigning was much smaller.
In 2016 and 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers has distributed almost 8 billion UAH subvention funds for social and economic development of territories Besides that, Ukrainian Government allocated 3 more billion UAH for the development of territories this year. 2 billion UAH are still not distributed.
“Why are we researching into subventions for social and economic development of territories? Unfortunately, we made an assumption from our observation in 2016-2017 and 2018 that large amounts of state resources are being spent inefficiently, and the Accounting Chamber has noted in its reports the same situations that we did: the procedure of allocation, efficient and high-quality work of a state body, which prepares suggestions for the Government. This is a commission itself, comprising 1 persons, 14 of whom are MPs from the Budget Committee and two from the Ministry of Finance,” – Ms. Aivazovska said.
According to Analyst from Civil Network OPORA Anatolii Bondarchuk, there are two main types of probable misuse of budget resources for the purposes of indirect campaigning. public events — 49% (364) and activeness in mass media/social networks — 44% (331). A part of the incidents are related to official websites of state authorities or public pages of their officials – 7% (53). Most of the cases concerned educational establishments (515 objects), housing and communal services, public welfare and infrastructure development (113), and healthcare institutions (111). In 95 cases, subventions were related to social and culture sector, and only in 34 — with road repairs. As for the detected cases of indirect campaigning, 95 of them concerned “traditional” openings of new or reconstructed playgrounds or sports grounds.
OPORA’s observers detected such incidents in all oblasts of Ukraine, and most of them in Volyn (83), Cherkasy (82), Poltava (62), Lviv (52) and Ivano-Frankivsk (45) oblasts. The smallest number of such events was noticed in Zakarpattia oblast (9), Donetsk oblast (8), Kyiv city (6) and Luhansk oblast (4). Indirect campaigning was mostly directed at villages (52%), slightly less at cities (36%) and towns (only 12%). Thus, the observation covered 645 settlements in all regions of Ukraine (one event could concern some settlements).
Indirect early campaigning was often realized by MPs themselves – 69% (512) incidents. Such indirect campaigning was detected among 114 majoritarian MPs and 17 MPs, elected through party lists in 128 electoral constituencies, what is 65% of the total number of districts.
“The most interesting is that it is specially emphasized on these events that the funds were allocated for a certain object or purchase of a certain equipment either thanks to assistance of an MP, or thanks to his initiative, or under some his project. We have noticed such incident on 10 June, on an opening of a playground in the village of Makhnivtsi in Lviv oblast. Representatives of local self-government bodies were attending the event, and priests, who sanctified the playground, expressed the gratitude to MP Taras Batenko for his assistance in attraction of funds for the construction. Some time later, a local website published information about this event, mentioning that there were 52 such playgrounds constructed in 2017 with assistance of the MP. The total amount of state budget funds reaches a little more than 2.5 million UAH” – Mr. Bondarchuk said.
According to Data Analyst from Civil Network OPORA Andrii Savchuk, indirect early campaigning with probable attraction of budget resources in the period from June to October was organized the most often in support of the following MPs: Ihor Huz (People's Front, Volyn oblast) – 60 incidents, Kostiantyn Ishcheikin (Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Poltava oblast) – 49, Serhii Rudyk (Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Cherkasy oblast) – 28, Vasyl Yanitskyi (Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Rivne oblast) – 27, Oles Dovhyi (Volia Narodu group, Kirovohrad oblast) – 23, Viktor Shevchenko (non-faction, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast) – 22 and Anton Yatsenko (“Vidrodzhennia Party” group, Cherkasy oblast) – 21. Khvycha Meparishvili (People's Front, 9 incidents) and Oleh Liashko (Radical Party, 8 incidents) were the most active in this regard party-list MPs. It should be mentioned that while it is a usual thing for a majoritarian MP to organize indirect campaigning efforts with probable use of budget funds, participation of party-list MPs in such activities is quite new.
“We would like to draw your attention to incidents, which are related to the Radical Party. They have no majoritarian MPs, but were noticed in 8 incidents with probable use of budget funds for an indirect campaigning. They all are connected to party leader Oleh Liashko, who was touring in Ukraine, so to say. In Zaporizhia, he received gratitude for the attracted funds for an oncology center in Mariupol. Some time later he delivered keys for IDPS, from apartments paid from taxpayers' money” – Mr. Savchuk emphasized.
Civil Network OPORA would like one more time emphasize that it's important to change the procedure of allocating state subventions, to increase the transparency and clearness of this procedure, and to guarantee that they are allocated in an even and systematic way, in line with priorities for the distribution of state resources between different regions of Ukraine. To reach this goals, OPORA prepared recommendations, which will be sent to stakeholders, including the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
A complete report on probable use of misuse of budget resources for the purposes of indirect campaigning is here.
For comment, please contact:
Andrii Savchuk, According to Data Analyst at Civil Network OPORA
Phone: 093 905 23 03