Parliament passes essential legislation, paves way for adopting anti-Kolomoisky bill
On April 16, the parliament adopted a new special procedure allowing lawmakers to vote on amendments in batches if the number of amendments to a single law is over 500.
The law seeks to end the wide-spread practice of filibustering bills by registering thousands of amendments.
“If we don’t change the bylaws, the parliament’s work can be blocked (by amendments) until fall,” said Speaker Dmytro Razumkov, when calling on the lawmakers to support the bill.
Most of the 242 lawmakers who supported the bill were members of the governing Servant of the People party. To kick-start this special procedure, a majority vote must now be held.
When this is done, it will unblock the final second voting on the crucial bank bill, widely known as anti-Kolomoisky bill, in reference to oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. The bill would outlaw the return of nationalized banks to previous owners, ending Kolomoisky’s campaign to return Privatbank, Ukraine’s largest bank, which he had owned before it was nationalized in 2016.
The bill, which would unlock a $8 lending package from the International Monetary Fund, has been blocked by 16,000 amendments. Most of them were drafted by a handful of lawmakers, who are linked to the oligarch.
The state alleges that under the ownership of Kolomoisky and his business partner Hennady Bogolubov, a total of $5.5 billion was stolen from the bank through insider loans.
Today, the state-owned Privatbank is suing Kolomoisky in Ukraine, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Israel and Cyprus. Kolomoisky is counter-suing in Ukraine, alleging the state of raiding his property.
The bank law is required by the IMF for Ukraine to receive the much-needed $8 billion loan. Ukraine’s budget is currently set to come short of $4 billion worth of taxes, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which killed over 500,000 worldwide, 116 in Ukraine and caused a severe economic downturn.
The bank law isn’t the first law blocked by thousands of amendments. The law on lifting the moratorium on selling farmland received 4,018 proposed amendments. It took parliament 52 days to vote on them.
Now with the new special procedure in place, lawmakers will have the choice of fast tracking the process of hearing amendments in one of the two scenarios – when the total amount of amendments is over 500 or when the number is five times more than the total number of articles written in the law.
If the special procedure is enacted, parliament factions will be allowed to nominate up to five of their amendments to be discussed separately, others will be grouped and voted as a whole.
Opposition lawmakers asked the law to be temporary, to which Razumkov agreed. Yet he said that it would require a separate law to change the one they just adopted.
Now a new law will be registered in parliament to place a time limit on this changed procedure – according to Razumkov it was a condition placed by opposition faction leaders in return for their support. The pro-Russian 44-member Opposition Platform – For Life faction gave 15 votes. The other three opposition parties gave a total of zero votes.
If the changes will be adopted, the bank law will be saved from obstruction, yet other bills might be blocked by thousands of amendments in the future.