27 July 2021 16:34

International aid: to organize and to control

During the years of Independence, Ukraine has repeatedly proved to the world that it chooses the European vector of development and seeks to affirm European values and standards. The young country was gladly helped and is still being helped – with money, experience and advice. How were these funds spent? Is there reporting for international assistance? And most importantly: what should be done to spend every penny as efficiently as possible? 

Scientists of Sumy State University are currently looking for answers to these questions. The project won the call of the National Research Foundation of Ukraine and received funding of UAH 1.4 million. 

Where did the money go?

The scientific director of the project, Yuriy Garust, said that, according to the Cabinet of Ministers, the volume of international assistance to Ukraine during the years of Independence amounted to more than $ 60 billion.  However, no Ukrainian agency provides generalized data on which channels, in which periods and how much international assistance was transferred. 

The total amount of international technical assistance (ITA) that Ukraine received only in 2020 exceeds the amount of the loan provided by the International Monetary Fund, which must be repaid with interest. And if you summarize all the international technical assistance that the country has received in thirty years, it will be another State Budget of Ukraine. But how did these funds help the Ukrainian economy? Unfortunately, according to the scientist, there is mostly no answer to this question. 

When scientists learned about the NRFU’s call, they decided to take part in it without any hesitation. They understood: here it is, the right moment for the first time in the history of Ukraine to conduct research at public expense, which is absolutely necessary for the country. It is time to find out the effectiveness of the use of international technical assistance and to develop an effective legal mechanism to protect the ITA received by Ukraine from theft and other criminal acts.

The “dossier” was collected a long time ago 

The work did not start from scratch. 

 – During the study of this topic (before the competition), we realized that the sphere of ITA is not actually controlled by the state, and there are risks that aid coming to Ukraine may be stolen, – continued Yuriy Vitaliyovych.  – In other words, money, materials, technologies, etc. enter Ukraine, but it is unknown how they are distributed and used. That is how the idea of conducting an in-depth scientific analysis and study of this problem arose. 

To take under control

The victory in the call was a real surprise and great joy for the scientists. After signing the contract with the NRFU, the team checked each element of the project and set to work. The volume of work for the scientists was huge: it was necessary to analyze all executed contracts with ITA: since 1991 there were more than 1600 of them. 

Researchers together with subcontractors of the project the audit firm were searching, monitoring and researching everything that is known about each contract for months: availability of documents, information on the official websites of government agencies and other beneficiaries, as well as on the websites of donors. A thorough audit once again confirmed that the scope of the ITA does not fall under state control and is poorly regulated. 

After that, the scientists approached the most important stage of the project: the development of draft legislation on the involvement, monitoring and control of the use of ITA by government agencies. Today such laws do not exist in Ukraine. 

However, scientists are convinced that the development of bills is not enough, and there is a need of a conceptual document on the functioning of this area in the coming years, so the main result of the project is the development of the “Concept of state control over the involvement and effective use of international technical assistance in Ukraine for 2021-2025” . 

To the authorities and the media 

 – These will be clearly balanced, substantiated and most effective documents, – the project supervisor emphasized. – We will send them to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Office of the President of Ukraine, and the scientific results of the project will be published in domestic and foreign editions. We also plan to present the results in the media. I am sure that they will arouse great public interest. 

By the way, Yuriy Garust is convinced that the scientific substantiation should precede the adoption of all bills and not only on the ITA. This will prevent legal conflicts, gaps and public condemnation of the unprofessional work of the legislative branch of government. 

Yuriy Vitaliyovych advises his colleagues not to be afraid submit  applications for the NRFU’s calls, to prove the urgency of the problem and to believe in victory. 

Svitlana GALATA

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