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You're reading: People First: The latest in the watch on Ukrainian democracy

Public servants only travel in style

Europe is amazed at the record Ukraine has set for the number of state-provided cars for senior officials: there are 6,972 “state’’ cars in Ukraine, compared to 191 in Great Britain and 23 in Denmark. This figure comes at the same time that Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced an austerity regime for financing state administration. The idea of seeing a Ukrainian deputy on his or her way to work on a bicycle or in metro, as is quite common in Europe, is simply laughable.

Since the year started, the Ministry of Economy has rejected the purchase of only 27 cars, whilst the Ukrainian media report that more than $2.5 million has been spent on the purchase and maintenance of deputies cars during the same period. According to experts, officials have found legislative loopholes to avoid running into car purchase caps; these seem to involve rather dubious state/ private enterprises. The authorities charged with policing financial abuse must be either profoundly incompetent or complicit; perhaps the fact that they also arrive at the office in Maybachs and Mercedes Benz holds a clue. To those in power, personal comfort is much higher priority than economic prudence for the sake of the increasingly impoverished people they supposedly represent.

People First Comment: What is the purpose of a state-owned motor car? It should be to convey elected officials around the country in a comfortable manner in order that they can do their work effectively. In the UK for example all the cars used by ministers belong to the government car pool and are allocated on a daily basis to whichever official needs a car. There is no such thing as a state-purchased “personal” car.

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