Expert assessments,

Why and at What Cost has Government Increased COVID-19 Response Fund by UAH 6 Million?

On December 14, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine issued a decree increasing the COVID-19 Response Fund by UAH 6 billion.

On the one hand, this step appears to be positive as the government is trying to react to the increasing number of СOVID-19 patients. Therefore, it spends more to combat the pandemic, reducing, for example, expenses to maintain top officials. In particular, UAH 51.2 million have been reallocated from the Verkhovna Rada to the COVID-19 Response Fund. The Presidential Office has lost UAH 10 million for the same reason. The expenditures to ensure the work of the Cabinet of Ministers have been cut by UAH 105.1 million, the expenditures to ensure prosecution and investigative activities have been cut by UAH 85.2 million.

On the other hand, this decision implies non-effectiveness of the government itself.

First, such a decision to relocate UAH 6 billion only testifies to the fact that the Cabinet of Ministers is not going to take money from its favorite Ukravtodor, which has received UAH 26.2 billion from the Covid-19 Response Fund. As of today, this road repair company has not yet used around UAH 5.3 billion which could have been reallocated to provide hospitals with acutely needed oxygen and medical equipment.

Second, along with reducing expenditures for the parliament, president and prosecutor’s office the government has cut spending for the social and recreational support of the population, which is of great importance amid the pandemic. In particular, the expenditures of the Ministry for Veterans intended for psychological rehabilitation, social and professional adaptation, and health resort care of participants of the Revolution of Dignity and Anti-Terrorist Operation have been cut by UAH 2.2 million. The Ministry of Youth and Sports was told to cut UAH 22.4 million intended to support youth and children’s non-governmental organizations. The Ministry of Social Policy was told to cut the budget of the healthcare program for children who require immediate attention by UAH 80 million.

Of primary importance is that only two weeks are left before the end of the year. The next year budget does not envisage an analogous COVID-19 Response Fund.

It means that UAH 29.2 billion or 39% of its total amount have to be used from the existing Fund by the New Year Eve.

It raises a rhetoric question whether the government has enough time to qualitatively spend the increased COVID-19 Response Fund for the needs of patients rather than roads or police.