In the letter of the Central Election Commission to oblast, district, city and Kyiv district commissions, dated August, 11, 2020, the CEC highlights the peculiarities of job remuneration in August for election commission members who exercise their duties on a permanent basis.
The monthly allocation of budgetary provisions from the pool of the Central Budget under the relevant programme provides for the allocation of subvention to local budgets to hold local elections only form September to November, 2020. Instead, the CEC created oblast, district, city district, city TECs exercise their powers also in August, while the work of their members to operate on a permanent basis is not going to be remunerated by the government. The circumstance also concerns the specialists, experts, and technical staff engaged by TECs, who have already been assigned with important tasks to prepare decisions of election commissions according to the election timeframe. To date, the remuneration of labour for TEC members who exercise the commission’s duties on a paid basis, and for the engaged staff, is planned from September, 5, from the moment of official launch of election process.
It shall be noted that according to the changes to Electoral Code, dated July, 16, 2020, the formation of territorial election commissions was brought beyond the election process. Before the start of election process, TECs shall register the commission as a legal entity. District TECs shall form the village or township commissions, while city TECs shall establish commissions in cities (except for the Kyiv city), and to carry out the preparatory work to form the constituencies.
Upon the moment of taking an oath, by August, 20, most TEC members shall have provided for the uninterrupted operations of district and city TECs (in cities with district-based division) to accept candidacies to the membership of village, settlement, and city districts TECs. By August, 25, the lot drawing shall be completed to accept candidacies for members of village, settlement, city districts TECs; the membership of commissions shall be finalized, and the decision on their formation shall be made public.
Moreover, by August, 30, TECs shall have identified the provisional average number of voters in multi-member constituencies established in territorial hromadas with up to 10,000 voters, as a preparatory stage for creating multi-member constituencies.
All the actions require the involvement of commission members who are employed on a paid basis, as well as the engaged specialists and experts, particularly for the daily routine of system administration and record keeping, and the use of computer hardware. Decisions on the formation of village, settlement, city district election commissions may be appealed in courts, which would require the engagement of a lawyer by the commission.
Lack of budgeted funds for territorial election commissions for August entails the unfeasibility to effect the payment by the State Exchequer Service.
Pursuant to Article 119 of the Budget Code, spending budget funds for purposes other than the budget allocations (budget breakdown, cost estimates, plan of using budgeted funds) shall be the misuse of public funds.
According to part 7 of Article 23 of the Budget Code, within the general scope of budget allocations under the budget programme, separately under general and special budget funds, the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, upon the justified submission from the chief budget funds administrator, shall re-allocate budgeted provisions approved in the budget breakout and in the cost estimates, in terms of economic classification of budget expenditures.
Civil Network OPORA hereby emphasizes that the failure to provide the planned funding for the TEC operations before September, 5 may become a serious challenge for proper organization of election process. On the other hand, introducing changes to the electoral law on the TEC operations before the start of election process would rather involve the revision of timelines and procedures for allocating budgetary provisions for local elections.