OECD'S Mari Kiviniemi: Ukraine should quicken pace of reforms
Mari June 7 Kiviniemi general Cooperation against litically with Ukrainians Feb. Institutska The The 20, democratic 15 Kiviniemi club corruption 2014, location at at and stands the the were is Street. and during economically Cabinet close Organization met values. for was Development murdered and as protests with to of the the symbolic the Ministers the building deputy healthy by against site for Kyiv — snipers Economic where for secretary the Club Post of former nation a what fight po- on on on 47 President Moscow-friendly lions already Euromaidan our “We willingness, from started from Viktor the (Revolution) country. the cooperation Yanukovych’s regime, from 1990s, the events which but (with organization’s corrupt really reinforced stole Ukraine) and bil- the side, country,” prime Since to minister the support said revolution, Kiviniemi, of Finland the development the who from OECD served 2010–2011. has of as pro- this the duced eas organization for a Ukraine range is of to concentrating reports reform. reviewing Right on now, making key the arsure cient Ukraine decentralization has a more process, effective and that and gov- effiernment as institutions bodies tend have to clear shift responsibilities, responsibilities back “Responsibilities and forth. should be clear really, sibility so that is, everyone and that knows is not where the case the respon- so far,” Kiviniemi said. Ukraine’s government still needs to improve its effectiveness, accountability and integrity at all institutional levels from national to local. And though the government has been boasting that with its decentralization reform, initiated in 2014, local and regional governments now have control over most of their budgets, in reality this is not the case. “More must be done to build local budgets, because now subnational authorities
control only about 30 percent of their revenues, while almost 80 percent of their expenditures are made on their behalf by the central government,” Kiviniemi said. And to achieve this, Ukraine needs the financial resources to keep its government body effective — money that it does not have. The lack of human resources is another problem, “an enormous challenge at all levels of government here.” those will financially Government either who find do rewarding have the salaries the private or necessary are simply sector low, move skills more and abroad. Kiviniemi would give a firm answer on whether she sees Ukraine’s reforms improving. “It has been challenging, and in certain areas it has been easier, and in certain not so easy,” she said. “But we also want to be an organization that gives a bit of a push, as well as support.” Overall, she sees the country moving in the right direction “but it’s very difficult to say if we’re now able to speed up, or if we’re going into a slower phase.” Part of her visit was to reconfirm OECD’S commitment to Ukraine, with both parties resigning a memorandum of understanding first signed in 2014. Kiviniemi sees this as a good signal coming from Ukraine. Another part of her visit was to launch OECD’S 295-page report on Ukraine’s decentralization process, which takes a detailed look at progress in Ukraine’s regional development, territorial reform and decentralization since 2014. The report can be found at www.oecd.org. The OECD has also supported the creation of anti-corruption institutions in Ukraine, including the Business Ombudsman Council, the National AntiCorruption Bureau, and reforms in the civil service, public procurement, and the management of public finances. “But really, our message is that more needs to be done — there really is room for accelerating the reform process,” Kiviniemi said. This includes increasing the pace of reform of state-owned enterprises, she said. Ukraine’s privatization of more than 3,000 state-owned enterprises — many of which are inefficient cash cows for corruption — has been delayed for over three years. And in addition to battling with a bloated public sector, Kiviniemi says that Ukraine should continue reforming its tax system. Kivinemi well as being has an Finland’s impressive prime background: minister, she as held various ministerial positions. She was elected as a member of parliament for the first time when she was 26. In addition to all of that, she is a mother of two children. Kiviniemi has also been a strong advocate for equal employment rights between men and women. “This is actually one of the areas where
we ment,” that ample long 1906, women lic Kiviniemi “But office. would area led Finland in she the it the that the like took said. right comes public could fight to was a “We support to long the sector.” from for be vote have implemented, first time gender and Ukraine’s a many country country before stand tools equality. develop- for that Finland to also for pub- give has ex- In in reached parliament,” care The To of improve figure some the Kiviniemi 40 is matters, basic about percent steps. 12 Ukraine said. percent level For of needs instance, in women Ukraine. to take its in government daycare However, services the needs general for to children. ensure attitude there in are Ukraine good towards to change, women’s she said. responsibilities Often, for example, also needs it is assumed can and that should women take are care the of only children. ones who But men should also be eligible for family leave, and not only women, Kiviniemi said. “But really it’s… in the women’s hands, in the sense that we have to be active, and we have to stand for office, and we should not think that this isn’t something for us to do.” OECD reports have also shown that with more women in government, people trust their governments more, she said. And there’s also a tendency for “healthcare and social security services to be better in those countries,” Kiviniemi added.
Better for Ukraine Ukrainian both living stop women professionals its and brain and employment men drain looking would — the for conditions also flight a better help of life abroad. In addition to good social security and healthcare, Ukraine also needs to improve its education, investment climate and governance, “so that people really have the feeling that they can fully make use of all of the potential that they have in their own country.” “Finland was a very poor country 50–60 years ago, after World War II, but it has since become one of the most developed countries in the world,” Kiviniemi said. “It’s possible for any country to follow the same path — if you are committed to reforming the country and really putting the right policies in place.”
Mari Kiviniemi, deputy secretary general at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, spoke with the Kyiv Post at the Cabinet of Ministers Club on Institutska Street on June 15. (Oleg Petrasiuk)
Ukrainians line up to receive biometric passports for visa-free travel to the European Union at a passport office in Kyiv on July 20, 2017. Thousands of Ukrainians have applied for the biometric passport as they are hoping to leave Ukraine in search of a better life abroad. (Oleg Petrasiuk)