New Gov’t Encounters Its Bureaucrats

The system needs to be dismantled, not rescued by IMF loans.

When members of Ukraine’s newly-appointed government walked into their offices just over a month ago, on top of a military invasion, a looming economic collapse and other external challenges, they discovered the mess in their own back yard is almost as massive a problem.

Most of the civil service turned out to be completely dysfunctional, highly corrupt and disruptive, turning every step and every decision almost into an act of heroism.

“We have worked for just 34 days, but we feel as if we have worked for more than two years,” Ostap Semerak, minister of the Cabinet, told a room full of investors at the Dragon conference on April 2. Semerak’s job is to coordinate the work of the government and its staffing policies.

The government has made a decision to dismiss 10 percent of civil servants, or 24,000 people. However, some ministers confess in private that it would probably be fair to keep 10 percent of the existing staff, but they cannot do this because they are constrained by legislation and potential lawsuits that would drain time and energy.