Is Derzhkomzem to survive?
MyLand - 01/12/2010:
Recently there have been rumors that the State Committee of Ukraine on Land Resources, Derzhkomzem, may be wound up in the process of administrative reform. Competence of Derzhkomzem shall be shared between the Ministry of agrarian policy and Ministry of environmental protection (or may be among other ministries as well).
To say the truth, such rumors have always accompanied Derzhkomzem, since the moment it was established. And sometimes it looked like it was really going to happen - in 2007 Derzhkomzem was reorganized into an agency, only to regain the status of a state committee a year later.
Today it is again looking like the Government of Ukraine is going to remove Derzhkomzem from the list of executive bodies. The process - if it is indeed going, because no public information is available - started with quite a strange retreat of the Cabinet on the issue of state control over land use and protection. In fact, we could even date it further back - from the moment when the Government took from Derzhkomzem the competence to organize and handle land registry. But it well may be something different - representatives of the ruling party - Party of Regions - have always been extremely critical about the idea of having Derzhkomzem responsible for the registry.
The Cabinet of Yulia Tymoshenko in June 2009 decided to wind up the State Inspection for Control for Land Use and Protection. It was converted from an independent executive body into a department of Derzhkomzem. Later on, upon the Presidential elections of 2010 which removed Ms Tymoshenko from power, the Main Control and Revision Board of Ukraine reported that this decision of Yulia Tymoshenko which allegedly was lobbied by then head of Derzhkomzem Mr Oleg Kulinich, led to unprecedented deterioration of control effectiveness. The Board estimated that the control over land use and protection lost 40% of its efficiency. NGOs also complained that when Derzhkomzem got competence of the Inspection it was not using it to the purpose and even abused its powers.
Soon upon statement of the Main Control and Revision Board, in June 2010, the Inspection was restored as an independent executive body. The Cabinet appointed its head and deputy heads, the web-site of the Inspection came back to life (by the way, it was the only public web-resource which placed MyLand banner). The Inspection called upon interested persons to fill in positions.
Quite unexpectedly, actually, out of the blue, the Inspection again was wound up. On November 22, 2010, the Cabinet published its decision on liquidation of the Inspection; on November 27 it came into force. The Inspection cancelled the contest for filling positions in its central and local offices.
We call this decision "out of the blue" because Ukrainian Cabinet is having its sessions every Wednesday; the session is open with a speech of the Prime-Minister in which he gives the idea what the agenda looks like. At sessions Cabinet takes decisions which are usually signed by the date of a respective session (or a respective Wednesday). In case of Inspection there has been nothing of this sort. No announcement was made, and the decision was signed on Monday, contrary to the usual routine.
It looks like the Inspection has been again "cut down to size" - in fact, it shall operate on the basis of the decision of Ms Tymoshenko Cabinet, i.e. as a department of Derzhkomzem. We remember that the effectiveness of that particular type of organization of control was questioned by the Main Control and Revision Board of Ukraine as well as by NGOs.
All this is raising questions. We wonder what the Main Control and Revision board of Ukraine is going to say now about the effectiveness of state control after all these changes. We wonder if liquidation of Derzhkomzem has indeed started from amputation of its control hand. We also wonder if the Cabinet and the President are going to be more open and transparent in their decision-making in the field of land administration... This list is much longer, but we believe that without a positive answer to the essential question, about openness and transparency, they all are circumstantial and unimportant.
Center for Land Reform Policy in Ukraine - 2010
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