PUBLIC FORUM "REFORMS IN THE CROSS HAIRS"
THE PUBLIC AND THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAVE DISCUSSED THE RESULTS OF THE TWO-YEAR ACTIVITY OF THE CABINET OF MINISTERS AND SET PRIORITIES FOR THE NEAREST FUTURE
The results of the two-year activity of the Cabinet of Ministers were discussed at the public-political forum “Reforms in the Cross Hairs: Dialogue between the Public and the Authorities”. In connection with the second anniversary of the current government, the Reanimation Package of Reforms brought together government officials, the most reputable experts, representatives of international institutions, business as well as public figures and journalists on one platform to assess the performance of the Cabinet and determine priorities for the next year.
Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Hroisman stressed that economic growth is of the utmost priority for the government.
“Economic growth should foster investments, and investments will come when we establish the rule of law. For the time being, we have just started solving the problems that have accumulated over decades. Energy independence, decentralization of power, healthcare reform are enormous reforms that cannot be implemented quickly. However, we are not hiding the problems, we are determined to solve them,” said Hroisman.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister acknowledged that he has not yet succeeded in implementing the goals he would like to achieve.
“We need to engage with the civil society. The result of the dialogue with the experts should make Ukraine better. Ukrainian citizens will be the beneficiaries of these changes, and we must make changes that will make our country stronger,” said the Prime Minister.
Taras Shevchenko, co-chair of the Board of the Reanimation Package of Reforms, noted that the government lacks the authority for a more effective work.
“We need a government reform that will allow distributing powers among the government, the president and other authorities, as well as increase the authority of the government. Arrangement of the decision-making process. Development of a policy-making system is another important aspect. Ukraine does not have a rich history of adopting its own decisions, and it relies heavily on personalities when making important decisions. However, while personalities are a good thing, the system that will work, despite changes in personalities, is even more important. Steps taken to build it are correct but insufficient,” said Taras Shevchenko.
Maksym Martyniuk, First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, assured that over these two years, the government has achieved some progress in the field of agrarian policy.
“First of all, we managed to find a support model for farmers which will be successful. To do this, we took into account the errors made in the previous years. This year, we are supporting small businesses – farmers. We believe that on the basis of farmers we can create a middle class in the rural areas and this will stabilize the situation with the decrease in rural population. Farmers are of priority for the government and this is reflected in all our programs and actions,” promised Maksym Martyniuk.
He said that completion of the land reform and land market development are the issues which have not been resolved yet.
Ihor Burakovskyi, Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting and RPR expert, noted that the state is actively funding this sphere, but it is how the funds will spend rather than their allocation that is important.
“Now, 6.3 billion UAH was allocated from the budget to support farmers. But how do we measure the effectiveness of investing these funds? Will this be the correct spending of taxpayers’ money? Is this the support that has gone down the drain, has the money been lost? These factors need to be evaluated. It is on financial management that the effectiveness of politics depends,” commented Ihor Burakovskyi.
Uliana Suprun, acting Minister of Health, spoke about the healthcare system reform.
“Our team has been working for 20 months. We have the first achievements. The law that changed the system for financing healthcare has been adopted. “Choose Your Doctor” campaign has been underway for two weeks, and during this time, 1,088 healthcare facilities and 780,000 patients have joined this campaign. This means that there is a need for change. We have created “Available Medicines” program and, as a result, it reduces mortality and morbidity. Finally, over 50% of the population has been vaccinated – this is the highest rates over the past 5 years. We are working on the quality of medical education. But there are still a lot of things to do and not everything depends on the MoH’s desire,” reported Uliana Suprun.
Andrii Skipalskyi, a member of the RPR Board, Chairman of the Board of the Advocacy Center “Life”, noted the importance of these changes, but mentioned some difficulties in the process of medicines procurement, National Health Service and the registration campaign within the primary care.
“Changes introduced by the MoH are important, but it may seem that there is chaos and lack of control in this sphere. It is also interesting how the quality of services provided by a specialist will be assessed. There were a lot of questions, misunderstanding of the process on the part of the local authorities. For example, who of the Compulsory Health Insurance representatives will be responsible for the autonomy?” asked Andrii Skipalskyi.
Similar to her colleague from the Ministry of Health, Minister of Education and Science Liliia Hrynevych spoke about the enormous set of problems that need to be solved to build a “new Ukrainian school”. She also commented on the widely discussed changes in the new procedure for enrolling children into school.
“We have very stratified schools. Competitions to enter into specialized “winner” schools contradict pedagogy and psychology. We eradicated corruption in universities through the introduction of EIT (External Independent Testing), but there is corruption at the school enrollment level. Children get a place in a class through influential acquaintances or for a bribe, while parents of an ordinary child live near the school and cannot have their children study there. In most countries, elementary school is the same for everyone. We need to ensure that there is the same standard for everyone. Textbooks, standards should be the same for everyone. If we are to create a new Ukrainian school, let’s do it everywhere,” said Liliia Hrynevych.
Ms. Hrynevych also mentioned basic schools, teacher training and civic education. Particular attention was paid to the last aspect.
“We will not solve the issue of civic education by introducing Civic Education course. It has to run through all the courses. Teacher should be an example because children learn from behavior patterns rather than theory. And school atmosphere is very important here: if it is not democratic or if there are double standards, it discredits civic education. These are valuable questions that are formed in a very complicated way. And they should be given more attention in each school and class,” concluded Liliia Hrynevych.
Ivan Prymachenko, expert of the “Education and Science Reform” group of the Reanimation Package of Reforms, noted that the Ministry of Education and Science has coped with the problem of languages for national minorities with good grace by introducing amendments to the Law “On Education”, and with the aspect of entry and ensuring the educational process for the prospective students from the temporarily occupied territories.
“However, there are some challenges. First of all, I want to mention the reform of higher pedagogical education. In 2016, the lowest average score among the applicants filing for the state-funded education was among the prospective Mathematics and Physics teachers. These people will be teaching in a few years’ time. Yes, another problem is the quality of teaching which is only gathering momentum as it is at the stage of discussions. A huge challenge is the demonopolization of further training for teachers. This should be possible not only at the postgraduate education institutes, but also through online courses,” commented Ivan Prymachenko.
In addition, during the forum, the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Science invited all willing and qualified specialists not only to join the ministries as experts but also to apply for vacancies in the ministries.
In total, the forum was attended by more than two hundred participants. The attendees were presented not only the government’s report, but also the report of the Reanimation Package of Reforms for 2017.