Deregulating Ministries in Ukraine?

Which ministries can and should be eliminated?

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The new Ukrainian Parliament was elected on October 26, 2014. About a month later, five parties in the new parliament formed a coalition and appointed a new government consisting of Prime Minister and 17 ministers.

In their political programs, the parties have committed to economic and institutional reforms, among which deregulation is one of the top priorities. Reduction in the number of ministries could have been a part of deregulation. (VoxUkraine.org recently offered another rationale for elimination of some ministries and state agencies – reduction of the budget deficit.) The coalition, however, has chosen to keep all the existing ministries and introduce a new ministry of information.

VoxUkraine has conducted a non-scientific and simplistic survey on Facebook about which ministries in Ukraine can and should be eliminated as a part of deregulation. The survey is non-scientific because the Facebook audience is not random. The survey is conceptually simplistic because it did not allow the respondents to respond by suggesting to merge or reorganize the ministries.

The survey was open to public on Facebook and was promoted to people who liked VoxUkraine page, their friends, and friends of members of VoxUkraine. There have been 159 answers over 10 days. Here are the results.

VoxUkraine survey. Which ministries can and should be eliminated?

(Respondents could choose as many as they wanted.)

  1. Ministry of sports and youth – 71.7%
  2. Ministry of regional development – 69.8%
  3. Ministry of ecology – 55.3%
  4. Ministry of culture – 53.5%
  5. Ministry of infrastructure – 50.9%
  6. Ministry of agriculture – 42.8%
  7. Ministry of social policy – 34.0%
  8. Ministry of economics – 32.1%
  9. Ministry of energy – 27.0%

The remaining ministries are justice (7%), finance (7%), foreign affairs (2%), interior (5%), health (12%), education (10%), and defense (4%).

One possible interpretation of these results is that they measure public satisfaction with performance of these ministries and public perception of their importance.

In any case, it is interesting to observe that the ministries could be split in three groups. The first group, which can be called, CORE ministries, includes justice, finance, foreign affairs, interior, defense, health, and education. These ministries received very low scores (which is good), between 4% and 12%. These are the ministries providing core functions for existence of Ukraine. The second group, which can be called SERVICE ministries, includes energy, economics, social policy, and agriculture. These ministries received intermediate scores between 27% and 43%. These ministries are perceived to be important by a substantive share of the respondents, while others are either dissatisfied with their performance or believe that their functions are not critical. Finally, the most problematic is the group of ministries that received scores above 50% and as high as 70%. The public either does not understand the functions of these ministries, is extremely dissatisfied with their performance, or believes that these ministries could be reformed, merged, or subordinated as agencies to other ministries in order to increase their efficiency.

Regardless of the interpretation, the results suggest that ministries differ in the amount of public support and that these differences can be drastic. It can be valuable to explore the reasons for dissatisfaction with the structure and the performance of the ministries in the top-6 group. Such analysis can suggest an optimal way of restructuring the ministries of Ukraine, their functions, and responsibilities.

But how many ministries are there in other countries and what those ministries are?

There are 21 ministries in Russia, 20 ministries in China, 19 ministries in Georgia, 17 ministries in Poland, 15 ministries in Germany, and 15 secretaries in the United States. Thus, the number of 17 ministries is not out of line.

The CORE ministries (justice, finance, foreign affairs, interior, health, education, defense) are present in all of these countries.[1] The SERVICE ministries (energy, economics, social policy, and agriculture) are present in all of these countries, except that there is no ministry of energy in China and Poland, and it is combined with economy in Germany.

The remaining ministries (sports, regional, infrastructure, ecology, culture) are present in many but not all of the countries: Environmental protection is delegated to the agency level in the USA, there is no ministry of regional development in Poland, Georgia combines regional development and infrastructure in one ministry, there is no sports ministry in China and the USA, and there is no culture ministry in the USA. Interestingly, all these ministries except infrastructure are absent in Germany.

Overall, it appears that the existing structure of ministries is not that different from those of China, Russia, Georgia, and Poland, while there are slightly more differences with Germany and the USA.  Georgia has ministries of Diaspora, Displaced People, Euro-Atlantic Integration, and Reconciliation, while Russia has ministries of Crimea and Far East. On the other hand, ministry of information is present only in Russia and China.

The number of ministries in Ukraine is consistent with that in other countries and the structure of the Cabinet (with the exception of Ministry of Information) is also quite similar. At the same time, some of the ministries are perceived unimportant by the surveyed people. This, in our view, signals that if the new government wants to fight bureaucracy and raise effectiveness of public administration, dubious ministries are first targets to have their functions audited. Based on our results, the government should start the process with Ministry of sports and youth or Ministry of culture and determine if these ministries should continue to be dissolved/restructured/merged with other ministries.

Note

[1] In China, there is no Ministry of Health but a National Commission on Health Issues.


Disclaimer

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations