CITIES MUST BE PROACTIVELY TRANSPARENT

26.08.2019
CITIES MUST BE PROACTIVELY TRANSPARENT

The global anti-corruption network Transparency International has published a survey on access to information in European capitals. Kyiv was ranked among highest, and Stockholm, for example, got one of the lowest positions. How city councils have been evaluated, what distinguishes the Ukrainian capital from other cities and what we lack – read in an interview with TI Ukraine executive director Andriy Borovik for Holos Stolytsi radio.

 

What criteria were used to evaluate the European capitals and make such a list?

This is a pilot survey, never done before. We conducted it together with our Transparency International partners in other countries. The survey was conducted in December 2018. There were 14 criteria in total, which, in fact, included 14 simple questions to city councils whether they have something or not. For example, one of the questions was whether they publish notifications about tenders and their results on the city council website. The very presence of the ProZorro system in this rating helped Kyiv, because in Ukraine all municipalities are obliged to use it. Analysts also examined whether the budget for 2018 is available on the site, in what form, whether it is clear for citizens to understand it. It is still challenging for Ukrainians to take in what the budget really is, there are many difficulties in understanding.

 

What information about the areas of activity of the Kyiv local government was studied and how?

For example, when it comes to public procurement, is it possible for a citizen to visit a city council website and see what the city buys. This is one of the methods used. Also, among the 14 indicators there is the question whether the city council, upon the request of a citizen, provides telecommunications contracts it signed. This question may seem strange, but it is universal for all cities and should show how open the city is to providing information. In addition, there was a so-called “secret buyer” who sent a request, not on behalf of the organization, but as a common citizen.

 

Due to which spheres and directions did the Ukrainian capital rank first in the transparency rating? Probably, this is about purchases in ProZorro, the register of declarations…

It includes purchases and declarations as well. In total, for 10 out of 14 indicators Kyiv got the maximum.

 

And what do we lack?

First, the city did not respond to the information request about the mayor’s salary in 2017. On the one hand, it may seem strange to give an answer for such a question if we have electronic declarations where you can see it. Maybe you and I are aware of electronic declarations. But not all citizens can know about this system. Therefore, the city was obliged to respond to this request. Second, there is legislation on lobbying in the countries of the western world, and there is a list of meetings with lobbyists on the city council’s website. Since there is no such law in Ukraine, this point was a minus. However, I would like to point out that most cities received a minus for this indicator, despite the fact that in their countries this legislation is in force, and at the national level – in parliament and government – they do implement it.

 

Do we have something that other cities do not?

Of course, it is ProZorro electronic system. It is even more interesting to see the situation in the western countries. For example, mayors in some cities or city council members are so open that they make their Google Calendar public. It is not only the reception hours of the mayor and the chairman of the committee, but a full working calendar published, where you can see all the meetings. If you look at London, in this city all members of the city council publish all the information – from mobile phones and to the gifts they received, where and when they went and what issues they discussed.

 

Can a citizen of our country and abroad attend a committee meeting and see how decisions are made? Because I often meet such posts from public activists who did not attend the meeting but wanted to come and monitor it on behalf of the public.

This indicator was not rated. Indeed, there is legislation in Ukraine that entitles every city citizen to attend meetings and committees of city councils freely. But, unfortunately, quite often the city councils neglect it, hiding themselves, for example, behind ephemeral security requirements. Yes, this is a problem in Ukraine, but it has become much smaller in the last five years.

 

Who scored the least points in this rating?

In this study, 20+ cities were divided into three categories. Athens, Belgrade, Kishinev, Sarajevo, Stockholm and Yerevan got into the lowest, “red” category. The most amazing thing is Stockholm. Sweden has a separate law on access to public information. When there is a request from the citizens to the authority, the official should postpone all his affairs, this becomes his number one priority. But it turns out that it is not enough to just satisfy a query. Transparency should be proactive, but not just upon request. Therefore, Stockholm took the lowest positions of the ranking

 

Transparency International Ukraine also compiles the Transparency Ranking of the 100 largest cities in Ukraine. Which cities and in what areas were analyzed, what criteria were used? Who are the leaders, what are the results?

This rating is much more detailed and covers the 100 largest cities of Ukraine, which are rated by 98 indicators in 15 different areas. It considers the budget, communal and social spheres that make this rating much more complicated. Drohobych, Mariupol became the leaders in the last Rating. Unfortunately, according to the latest rating, as of February 2019, Kyiv fell out of the top ten, taking 12th position out of 100.