The downsizing of institutional power promised by the Cabinet of Ministers never happened

The downsizing of institutional power promised by the Cabinet of Ministers never happened
Photo: kds.org.ua

The government claims it fulfilled the order of the Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk to cut the number of civil servants in the central bodies of executive power by 10%. But, in truth, this goal has not been achieved in any of the ministries. On the contrary, an increase in the size of their staff was observed.

Invisible downsizing

The non-government center for social and economic research CASE Ukraine conducted a study in which it examined the implementation of the government’s decision on the downsizing of institutional power in central government agencies. “Six months ago, speaking in the parliament, Yatsenyuk promised to reduce the size of executive agencies by 10%. We submitted requests to the central government agencies asking to specify the number of full-time employees as of the end of March and the end of June – three months after the premier’s speech,” said the coordinator of the study at CASE Ukraine Yulia Shybalkina in a conversation with Capital. She added that the findings showed that no ministry managed to reduce its staff by more than 5.6%. At the same time, a number of them increased their staff. The central office of the Cabinet increased its staff as well. “These results suggest that the promised reforms are not being carried out. So, here we observe not only economic, but also political populism,” emphasized Shybalkina.

Chairman of the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service Affairs Kostyantyn Vashchenko did not comment on the data of CASE Ukraine, but said in a conversation with Capital that the instruction of the premier was executed. “Downsizing of civil servants should be examined not in each specific ministry, but in all executive authorities in general. Based on the analysis of their duties, powers and structural changes, some bodies were downsized by 30–40%, while others were increased for more efficient operation. Therefore, we met the challenge,” assured Vashchenko.

Vashchenko said that in the process of downsizing of officials the duplication of duties, powers and competencies was taken into account. However, the expert did not go into details as to the numbers and places where it was possible to downsize the institutional power to fulfill Yatsenyuk’s assignment.

Cabinet needs time

Former Minister of Labor and Social Policy Ivan Sakhan told the publication that reduction of the army of officials and reform of their activities is the favorite subject for all governments and presidents of Ukraine. In this case, the proposed reforms eventually backfire and result in an increase in staff. He believes this is facilitated by the ill-considered policy of formation of the structure of the executive branch of power. Sakhan recalled cases of elimination of the Ministry of Coal Industry and the Ministry of Industrial Policy, which were subsequently reestablished.

“Overall, at least six months are needed to evaluate the fulfillment of Yatsenyuk’s promises. This time is required for compliance with all legal procedures. After all, downsizing should be announced two months in advance and typically in such cases employees try to cheat by going on sick leave to drag out time until their retirement or not to get laid off. In such cases the ministry starts to “grow” – it gets two offices: a new team and those who cannot be fired for a certain period of time,” explained Sakhan.

Based on the government’s data, at the end of March the executive branch employed approximately 250,000 people. At the first stage the Cabinet announced downsizing of the institutional power by 10%, at the second stage – 20%. It is expected that the second stage will begin after introduction of amendments to the Constitution, which will increase the powers of local councils and eliminate regional state administrations.

As a reminder, at the end of last year the parliament postponed the entry into force of the new Law On Public Service until January 1, 2015. Among other things, the document establishes the Cabinet’s right to determine the scheme of salaries for civil servants with the minimum wage being at the level of at least 2 minimum wages.

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