USAID To Help Ukraine Fight Corruption

KIEV, Ukraine -- USAID will provide Ukraine with some $13.5 million in assistance to help the country fight corruption, according to an agreement signed between Ukrainian Justice Minister Serhiy Holovatiy and the director of USAID’s Regional Mission in Ukraine, Earl Gast.

Ukrainian Justice Minister Serhiy Holovatiy

While the U.S. government has been channeling aid to Ukraine through USAID for years, the agency’s press release has underscored that this is the first cooperation agreement to have been signed between Ukraine and USAID on the implementation of a “strategic mission.”

“The agreement […] signals a new phase in cooperation on judicial reform and the fight against corruption,” said Assya Ivantcheva, acting director of USAID/Ukraine’s Office of Democracy and Governance.

The strategic mission of the project, according to USAID’s press release, is to enforce the rule of law in the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government in Ukraine by introducing amendments to current legislation that aim to diminish corruption and enhance the transparency of the Ukrainian government.

Specifically, Ivantcheva said, this cooperation will be facilitated by two projects that have already been launched.

According to Ivantcheva, the centerpiece is a four-year, $12 million contract that will be implemented by Chemonics International, a global consulting firm promoting economic growth and higher living standards in developing countries.

The project foresees providing “technical assistance”, such as expertise in policy and legislative issues, as well as institutional support for the judicial reform process, which should include judicial training, court staff development, advocacy, monitoring, and public education.

Another project will be carried out via the Commercial Law Center, a USAID-funded project dedicated to commercial law reform in Ukraine, and will work to improve the legal environment for business in Ukraine.

The project will concentrate on issues such as corporate governance, shareholder rights, property ownership, the legal framework for bankruptcy, taxation and certification, and also easing trade barriers, Ivantcheva said.

“We hope this agreement […] will bring eventual results,” Justice Minister Holovatiy said.

He added that as a part of the country’s anti-corruption efforts, the Ukrainian government has also been working together with the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – a program initiated by U.S President George Bush in 2002 to assist developing countries that meet specific requirements.

In late February, a U.S. delegation from MCC spent three days in Kyiv to discuss plans with Ukrainian government officials for a special development program focused on fighting corruption in Ukraine.

However, MCC’s funding package to support Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts still has to be approved by the MCC Board in Washington, according to USAID’s Ivantcheva.

According to a survey conducted by the Berlin-based think tank Transparency International, Ukraine is still among the 50 most corrupt countries in the world. Based on assessments of the business community and country analysts, Ukraine was ranked 113th on a list of 159 countries in 2005.

Transparency International considers corruption in Ukraine to be comparable to levels observed in countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Palestine, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Source: Kyiv Post