Rada passes e-declaration bill, the last law required for EU visa-free travel
Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada passed bill No. 3755 on amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine in relation to declaration of officials' property, income, expenses and financial obligations in 2016. The measure included President Petro Poroshenko's proposals, which were agreed with European Union officials.
The so-called e-declaration bill was supported by 278 MPs during the morning plenary session on Tuesday. The Petro Poroshenko Bloc parliamentary faction gave 113 votes in favor of the bill, the People's Front supported it with 72 votes. Deputies from the Opposition Bloc and the Vidrodzhennia (Renaissance) factions did not vote on the bill. The document was backed by 20 MPs from the Samopomich Party, 19 MPs from Oleh Liashko's Radical Party, 14 MPs from the Batkivschyna Party, 13 MPs from the Volya Narodu Group and 27 independent MPs.
Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Groysman said that that is the last bill that should be adopted by Ukraine's legislature before the EU decides on whether to grant Ukrainian citizens' visa-free travel to EU countries..
As reported earlier, Poroshenko on March 12 vetoed the previous wording of the e-declaration bill, which was criticized by the EU. The Ukrainian president tabled an updated bill in parliament along with his proposals, which were agreed with the EU. He noted that the proposals had been developed by the presidential administration and civil society.
"[On the evening of Saturday, March 12] the president received a letter with conclusions and the signatures of two commissioners – Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos," the Presidential Administration's press service wrote.
Poroshenko said that among the major changes is obligatory submission by all officials of electronic declarations in 2016. The amendments also introduce criminal liability for providing incorrect information in income declarations.
The president's bill proposes imposing fines if an official from central or local government deliberately provides false information. The fine is set between 1,000 and 2,500 non-taxable minimum sums of individuals' income. False information in the declaration is defined as information that differs from real data by the amount of between 100 to 250 minimum monthly wages.
Poroshenko's amendments also include changes to Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. They foresee a fine worth from 2,000 to 3,000 non-taxable minimum sums of income or community service for a period from 150 to 240 hours, or imprisonment for a period of up to two years with a ban on work on certain positions or certain activity for a period for up to three years.
The amendments also say that a new declaration with accurate data can be provided within seven days from the date when the original declaration was made.
The proposed changes also apply to the part of the law saying "valuable movable property, the value of which exceeds 50 sums of the minimum wage," replacing these words with "valuable movable property whose value exceeds 100 sums of the minimum wage."
In addition, Poroshenko's bill deletes the phrase "not earlier than January 1, 2017" [concerning the entry of the law into force], replacing it with "in 2016 the officials who on the first day of the introduction of the said [e-declaration] system occupy under Article 50 of this law a high-ranking or very responsible position. They are obliged to submit an annual income declaration for the past year in the manner prescribed by the law within 60 calendar days after the launch of the system."
As was reported earlier, two conditions were to be met for the introduction of short-term visa-free travel for Ukrainians – the adoption of the e-declaration bill in keeping with the EU's recommendations and the launch of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption in Ukraine.