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Rada kills law on anticorruption efforts
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, May 17 - Ukraine's lawmakers Wednesday put the brakes on a bill that has triggered concern from its Western allies for hampering anti-corruption efforts in the graft-riddled former Soviet republic, AFP reported.

The decision to rework a bill critics said was meant to protect top politicians and powerful business tycoons was made as an International Monetary Fund team met with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in Kiev.

The National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has been highlighted by the IMF as a shining example of Kiev's commitment to pursue fundamental changes demanded by pro-EU protesters who ousted a Russian-backed regime in 2014.

But NABU has faced stiff resistance since its launch in December 2015 from embedded institutions such the general prosecutor's office and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Analysts view both as controlled by vested interests and incapable of leading independent probes into the financial misdeeds of the upper echelons of power.

The criticized bill would have allowed either prosecutors or the SBU to take over a case from the NABU and then effectively shut it down.

The proposal drew a stern rebuke from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations.

Italian ambassador Davide La Cecilia tweeted Monday that the G7 was "concerned about the substance" of the proposed legislation and the "risk to the fight against corruption".

The IMF team is meeting Groysman to check on his willingness to both stamp out corruption that brought down a government last year and pursue belt-tightening policy guidelines set in Ukraine's $17.5 billion (15.7 billion euro) rescue package.

The first among these involves an overhaul of its budget-draining pension system.

IMF mission chief Ron van Rooden said last month that Ukraine's safety net for retirees was unsustainable because it supported nearly a third of the population.

Groysman lacks the political capital to push an overwhelmingly unpopular increase in the retirement age through parliament.

But Van Rooden has suggested reducing the number of pensioners by limiting early retirements.
He added that the system could be filled with more money by targeting companies and enterprises that avoid paying the pension tax.

Groysman unveiled his first pension reform plan Wednesday that he was due to discuss with the visiting IMF team.

The prime minister provided few immediately details about his proposal. (afp/ez)




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