SEATTLE — Ukraine was once under the Soviet sphere of influence but declared its independence in 1991. Despite trying to regain its diplomatic and economic bearings, the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 came as a big blow. It resulted in routine violence and skirmishes in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
As a result, Ukraine has a staggering economy in which nearly 60 percent of the population lives under the poverty line established by the United Nations. Moreover, corruption in Ukraine is exacerbating the state of the economy and the people. According to Transparency International, Ukraine ranks 131 out of 176 countries on the Corruption Index.
Corruption in Ukraine is prominent in healthcare, education, business and government. The dominance of industrial oligarchs like national oil and gas company Naftogaz is having adverse effects. Oligarchies have long ruled markets, maintaining high prices and exerting their financial influence for ulterior purposes. These actions impact the poor by granting concessions to the elite class. State-owned enterprises have a history of diverting government funds to support leading oligarchs to win favors. An example would be an embezzlement case in which AIDS drugs were sold at inflated prices for profit by health ministry officials.
However, the war on corruption in Ukraine is now becoming a global campaign, involving various international organizations and countries. President Petro Poroshenko’s tenure has made a lot of progress to address the high levels of corruption in Ukraine across various institutions. In a pioneering move, Poroshenko established an Anti-Corruption Bureau in 2014. As a result, Ukraine was able to drop two points on the Transparency Index scale by the beginning of 2016 and implement an effective tax legislation. An important component of the plan is intensive auditing of financial accounts in the public and private sectors.
Moreover, the Strategy of Ukraine 2020 is an agenda established to combat ineffective law enforcement and corruption. This move will stabilize Ukraine’s economy and is a step toward EU membership and obtaining the support of Germany and the rest of the European coalition.
Denmark is emulating the example of the EU’s Anti-Corruption Action as a way to help Ukraine win the war on corruption. This involves bolstering the capacities of law enforcement institutions and introducing strong and better frameworks across all institutions concerned with infrastructure and services for the people. The new and reformed anti-corruption courts will monitor judicial matters by taking on a more active role to investigate corruption scandals in the future.
In order to ensure more effective and streamlined provision and channeling of funds to alleviate corruption in Ukraine, the government is aiming to improve regulation and financial management. This will support a greater number of potential beneficiaries in need of assistance. The EU and the U.S. are working to bring about more reforms to the financial sector, and USAID plays a big role in many of the EU’s anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine.
Overall, corruption in Ukraine should be combatted given the state of the economy and the plight of the people. It is essential for the government to oversee and regulate expenditure so that funds can be invested in the future and prosperity of Ukraine.
– Shivani Ekkanath