By the Editorial Board of VoxUkraine
After many years of mismanagement, Ukraine badly needs reforms in nearly all areas. A key question is where to start and how to set priorities. In the first week of September, VoxUkraine conducted a survey among Ukrainian and international economists asking them to rank political and economic reform priorities for Ukraine and comment on their choice. 30 responses were received. Given the challenges currently faced by Ukraine, the majority of professional economists suggest to follow an integral approach to ensure complementarily of reforms and hence to improve outcomes. Survey results identify five clusters of most urgent reforms.
- Anti-corruption reform and broader reform of judiciary system. Anti-corruption reform was mentioned the most frequently in the list of the reform priorities and got the highest score. Majority of experts agree that as corruption is pervasive in all spheres, its elimination would provide boost for the economy, ensure better provision of public services and create foundation for efficient implementation of other reforms. Many experts noted that anti-corruption reform is a subset of broader reform of judiciary system, which was ranked #2 in the list of priorities. Also, lustration (ranked #6) and the reform of law enforcement prosecution agencies (ranked #7) should be components of the same cluster of reforms aimed at strengthening the rule of law in Ukraine.
- Reforms of armed forces and defense. Russian aggression against Ukraine dictated overwhelming priority of changes in the sphere of defense and security. Reforms of the armed forces and defense industry were ranked #3 closely followed by the need to develop new defense doctrine and national security strategy (ranked #5) and reform security, intelligence and border service (ranked #8).
- Energy independence. The third cluster of reforms concerns energy and is also closely associated with the Russian aggressions. The cease of gas supply from Russia and high risk of cutoffs in the supply of other energy materials from Russia put the issue of energy independence among most urgent reforms. Experts commented that the implementation of energy independence could be considered as a component of a wider energy reform (ranked #10).
- Stimulus for business: deregulation and tax reform. Deregulation (ranked #9), tax reform (ranked #10) and programs for small and medium business development (ranked #12) constitute the next cluster of reforms aimed at boosting private entrepreneurship and thus providing people with opportunities to take care of themselves instead of relying on the state support. Deregulation is also considered as a ‘low-hanging reform fruit’ allowing business to counterbalance destabilizing economic factors.
- Reform of public service. Public service reform and reform and reorganization of state agencies (both ranked #13) conclude the list of top-5 reform priority clusters for the country. Similar to anti-corruption and judiciary reforms, the public service reform is considered to be the prerequisite for successful and smooth implementation of other reforms, ensuring that the changes are not sabotaged or reversed.
Among other reforms mentioned among top priorities by some experts were land reform considered to be at the quite high level of readiness for adoption and allowing opening up of agricultural potential of the country; reform of state financial control and stabilization the state budget; programs to attract investments and to stimulate exports, and reform of financial sector. The list is long, but there is a clear consensus on what the government should focus on.