- Process still lacks security features needed by courts
- Project is required to unblock billions of financial aid
Ukraine missed a deadline to fully launch a system for officials to declare their assets electronically, falling short of a requirement needed to unlock billions of frozen international aid.
The system, aimed at helping fight corruption, began operation Monday but lacks essential security features, according to the state service of special communication and information protection. Although by law there is criminal responsibility for lying while making an asset declaration, a court will not accept unprotected information as evidence, Transparency International’s Kiev office said in a statement on its website. The anti-graft watchdog said the failure to ensure the protection of the data had turned “one of the key tools to fight corruption into fiction” and called on the people responsible to be dismissed.
“We are very disappointed and concerned by the incomplete launch of the electronic asset declaration system,” The European Union’s delegation in Ukraine said in an e-mailed statement.
Ukraine, whose economy has been battered during a two-year military conflict with Kremlin-backed separatists and by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has shown little progress in fighting graft, which has angered many Ukrainians and drawn criticism from international donors. Getting the system up and running is a requirement from the International Monetary Fund to unfreeze a $17.5 financial bailout to the country of more than 40 million people.
The bailout has been halted for a year, stalling $1 billion in aid from the U.S and at least 600 million euros ($672 million) from the European Union. The EU has also demanded Ukraine switch to the electronic declaration system so the bloc can ease a visa regime it has imposed on Ukrainians.
“The necessary decisions to correct the situation must be taken as soon as possible,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman said Monday in an e-mailed statement.