False hopes. What are the real powers of the President of Ukraine?

No, the president does not investigate corruption. VoxCheck explains why.

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“The price for gas will be reduced by 4 times”, “When spring comes – we’ll planting ” (slogan uses Ukrainian language synonym, that basically means “when spring comes – we’ll start arresting) – these and other election slogans have flooded billboards before the presidential election day. But what do people really expect tobe done and, even more, what the president is capable of? We have decided to explain what of the promised by and expected from, the president can really influence within his authority.

According to the KIIS survey, the top 3 decisions that Ukrainians expect from the new president in the first 100 days are:

  1. reduction of tariffs (39,1%);
  2. submission of bills on the lift  of immunity from deputies, judges, and the president (35.5%);
  3. initiation/acceleration of investigations of the most resonant corruption crimes (32.4%).

Here is another survey by the Sociological Group Rating, where there was no answer “reduction in tariffs”  as an option. In this case, the top 5 expectations of Ukrainians from the president are like this:

  1. submit bills on the lift of immunity from deputies, judges, and the president (53.7%);
  2. to begin direct negotiations in the quadrilateral “Ukraine-RF(Russian Federation)-DNR-LNR” to seize the fire and return of the Donbas (40.9%);
  3. ensure the return of prisoners of war and detained persons (38.4%);
  4. initiate dissolution of the current convocation of Verkhovna Rada and to hold early parliamentary elections (38.1%);
  5. ensure the stability of the national currency and the banking system (33.7%).

The statistical error in the research of the RATING group is 1.8%. And so, taking it into account, the 5th and 6th place in the survey could, theoretically, change places. Therefore, we also decided to include in the explanation the sixth position, which is not mentioned above – “Reduce salaries for top officials.”

Reduced tariffs

Typically, when there is talk about tariffs,  it means the price of gas for the population (households). This is a sphereof influence of the government because the government imposes special duties on suppliers and establishes the price. The president can only stop the acts of the Cabinet of the Ministers of Ukraine (CMU), and only if there are reasons to consider them unconstitutional. To do this, he needs to appeal to the Constitutional Court (Clause 15, Article 106).

As far as electricity tariffs, they are currently determined by the National Commission for State Regulation in the Energy and Utilities (abbrv. in Ukr -NKREKP). The president appoints all members of this body, who have been selected by the competition commission. He also decides ontwo persons who will be in the competition commission, the rest is determined by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (VRU) and the CMU – 2 and 1 member, respectively.

Starting from July 1, 2019, the electricity market will begin to operate. This would mean that prices will depend on the supply/demand ratio. Sales for the industry will be based on this ratio, and    certain restrictions for the sales price for the population are imposed. The government has imposed special duties on market participants, and therefore electricity for the population will be sold at below market prices. System of Special Obligations will operate until December 31, 2020.

Legislative activity

The president can actually submit draft laws to parliament. Also, the guarantor may designate bills as urgent. Then the Verkhovna Rada should consider them in a timely fashion.

The president has the right to veto the laws passed. To overcome the veto of the president, deputies should have no less than 300 votes.

Accelerating investigations against corruptors

Investigation of crimes committed by top corrupt officials is held by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU). However, the head of state can not interfere with its work, since the law guarantees the independence of the body.

The president appoints the Director of NABU. Currently, this position held by Artem Sitnik whose powers on this position will end in 2022.

The Director of NABU can be dismissed for 12 reasons, among which there is no president’s initiative. One of the reasons is the ineffectiveness of NABU’s activities and the inadequate performance of duties by its Director.  The conclusions of the Director performance as such are provided by the commission, which is created each year and consists of 3 auditors, one of which passes under the presidential quota.

Investigation of crimes  that are not in NABU jurisdiction will be  held by the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI, abbrv. in Ukr. DBR)

The verdicts (judicial decisions) on NABU cases against top corrupt officials will be passed by the  newly created Anti-Corruption Court.

Negotiations on Donbas and the release of prisoners

Conducting negotiations and concluding agreements with other countries is a real authority of the president. He also nominates the Head of the Foreign Ministry for approval by Verkhovna Rada and appoints the heads of diplomatic missions. This directly affects how international politics is conducted.

However, the start of direct negotiations and the release of prisoners requires support from other participants in the process, and here, the influence of the president is limited.

Ensuring the stability of the national currency and the banking system

These issues are dealt with directly by the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). Under the Constitution, the president only submits propositions for candidacy for the post of Chairman of the NBU to the parliament (Verkhovna Rada)

Last year, the current Head of the Central Bank, Yakov Smoliy, was appointed for the next 7 years. However, the president may initiate the dismissal of the Head of the NBU. But for this, he needs to provide a reasonedsubmission and obtain the consent of the Verkhovna Rada.

The president, also, appoints half of the Council of the NBU for a term of 7 years. The main task of this body is the elaboration of the NBU monetary policy. They can be released  of their duties only in 7 cases, and among them, there is no president’s initiative.

Reduced salaries for top officials

The terms of the salary of  “state employees” are determined by the Cabinet of Ministers, and not by the president – this is stated in the law On Remuneration of Labor. However, there are some exceptions to this law. There are salaries of judges, employees of NKREKP, NABU, NAZK (National Agency on Corruption Prevention) and others, which are determined by separate laws. In this case, the president may use his right of a legislative initiative to change the salary of officials of such bodies (provided that the relevant law is approved by the parliament).

Salaries of managers of state enterprises are determined while concluding contracts with the body in charge under which authority the state enterprise operates (as a rule, it is the relevant ministry). Therefore, it also does not belong to the authority of the president.

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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