30 pieces of silver for environmental civil society institutions Print
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 15:22

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Appointment of Ostap Semerak on position of Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine on April 14, after 9 months of absence of leader of the Ministry, gave hope for environmental NGOs for the beginning of real reform of the state system of environmental protection towards European integration.

This reform, like other Eurointegration reforms, is associated with procedures and their strict compliance, transparency, particularly regarding open inclusive dialogue with the public and access to information on the activities of the Ministry.

Positive expectations were related primarily to the appointment of senior executives. Also, the public was expecting consultations both on current issues and priorities of the new minister, and on the strategic reform of environmental governance and adoption of modern environmental policy that has been developed, but because of the absence of the minister has not been considered by the Government. In particular, there was hope that unlike predecessors, the new minister, at least, will publish proposals to change the structure of the Ministry and collects comments of the public and independent experts — even for short time but so long as it is open. There were similar expectations concerning priorities.

So far, these hopes were not realized. From its own sources, civil society institutes learned about significant changes in the structure, including another attempt to destroy a division of environmental policy, which was “dissolved” in organizational and analytical department of the minister. Let the minister, a political figure, is not yet aware that the environmental policy, its formation, implementation, monitoring and improvement are the main functions of the Ministry, but the question arises — who are these people who gave such advice to the Minister? And why Minister listens to them?

As known, two deputy ministers were appointed by the government’s orders on April 20 and 27. Both positions, according to the Law of Ukraine “On the central executive bodies”, are still considered to be political posts, not covered by labor legislation and legislation on public service. However, before appointment to these positions a special examination should be held according to the Law of Ukraine “On prevention of corruption”. Evidently, the above persons were unable to take this examination, and were appointed in a hurry.

2 weeks after the appointment of the Minister, on May 1, a new law on public service was to come into force, which prohibits the appointment of heads of ministry who are not members of the Cabinet without going through the competition. We understand that the minister required at least one deputy minister to start work, but we know cases when no deputy minister was appointed for a month or more (for example, when the Minister was Shevchenko). This was precisely because of the need to pass the examination.

But the biggest concern is not the quick appointment, but that these appointees belonged to the government and other authorities of Yanukovych times. There is a steady suspicion that old, “experienced” staff who already has the previous experience of implementing the “schemes” is coming back to higher civil service positions.

However, people who are called advisors of the Minister are conducting incomprehensible negotiations with certain representatives of environmental NGOs for separate cooperation instead of the open meeting of the Minister with representatives of a wide circle of environmental NGOs to discuss, in fact, urgent rescue plan for environmental affairs! All the environmental NGOs, which safeguard the environment, understand that the system of environmental governance is on the verge of destruction. Only joint actions, in partnership and mutual trust can save that to which most of us have devoted our entire lives. Instead, the Ministry’s well known “divide and conquer” policy regarding civil society institutions is back. Doesn’t it remind you of anything?

GIVEN ALL THAT HAS BEEN SAID, WE APPEAL FOR: all capable forces in the environmental movement and public institutions to unite and to not allow the return of the old schemes in the Ministry of Ecology, which, as we all know, also involved some non-governmental organizations; do not be tempted by 30 pieces of silver offered by the “advisers” and be vigilant, closely following the situation in the Ministry of Ecology and taking the appropriate actions.

30 pieces of silver for environmental civil society institutions

Appointment of Ostap Semerak on position of Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine on April 14, after 9 months of absence of leader of the Ministry, gave hope for environmental NGOs for the beginning of real reform of the state system of environmental protection towards European integration.

This reform, like other Eurointegration reforms, is associated with procedures and their strict compliance, transparency, particularly regarding open inclusive dialogue with the public and access to information on the activities of the Ministry.

Positive expectations were related primarily to the appointment of senior executives. Also, the public was expecting consultations both on current issues and priorities of the new minister, and on the strategic reform of environmental governance and adoption of modern environmental policy that has been developed, but because of the absence of the minister has not been considered by the Government. In particular, there was hope that unlike predecessors, the new minister, at least, will publish proposals to change the structure of the Ministry and collects comments of the public and independent experts — even for short time but so long as it is open. There were similar expectations concerning priorities.

So far, these hopes were not realized. From its own sources, civil society institutes learned about significant changes in the structure, including another attempt to destroy a division of environmental policy, which was “dissolved” in organizational and analytical department of the minister. Let the minister, a political figure, is not yet aware that the environmental policy, its formation, implementation, monitoring and improvement are the main functions of the Ministry, but the question arises — who are these people who gave such advice to the Minister? And why Minister listens to them?

As known, two deputy ministers were appointed by the government’s orders on April 20 and 27. Both positions, according to the Law of Ukraine “On the central executive bodies”, are still considered to be political posts, not covered by labor legislation and legislation on public service. However, before appointment to these positions a special examination should be held according to the Law of Ukraine “On prevention of corruption”. Evidently, the above persons were unable to take this examination, and were appointed in a hurry.

2 weeks after the appointment of the Minister, on May 1, a new law on public service was to come into force, which prohibits the appointment of heads of ministry who are not members of the Cabinet without going through the competition. We understand that the minister required at least one deputy minister to start work, but we know cases when no deputy minister was appointed for a month or more (for example, when the Minister was Shevchenko). This was precisely because of the need to pass the examination.

But the biggest concern is not the quick appointment, but that these appointees belonged to the government and other authorities of Yanukovych times. There is a steady suspicion that old, “experienced” staff who already has the previous experience of implementing the “schemes” is coming back to higher civil service positions.

However, people who are called advisors of the Minister are conducting incomprehensible negotiations with certain representatives of environmental NGOs for separate cooperation instead of the open meeting of the Minister with representatives of a wide circle of environmental NGOs to discuss, in fact, urgent rescue plan for environmental affairs! All the environmental NGOs, which safeguard the environment, understand that the system of environmental governance is on the verge of destruction. Only joint actions, in partnership and mutual trust can save that to which most of us have devoted our entire lives. Instead, the Ministry’s well known “divide and conquer” policy regarding civil society institutions is back. Doesn’t it remind you of anything?

GIVEN ALL THAT HAS BEEN SAID, WE APPEAL FOR: all capable forces in the environmental movement and public institutions to unite and to not allow the return of the old schemes in the Ministry of Ecology, which, as we all know, also involved some non-governmental organizations; do not be tempted by 30 pieces of silver offered by the “advisers” and be vigilant, closely following the situation in the Ministry of Ecology and taking the appropriate actions.

 
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