Ukrainian parliament restores powers of anti-corruption agency over foreign loan offer

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a joint press briefing with Polish President Andrzej Duda (not pictured) during their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, October 12, 2020. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko / Pool / File Photo

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to restore the powers of anti-corruption agency NAZK to secure new loans from the International Monetary Fund to tackle the economic slump caused by the COVID pandemic -19.

The Constitutional Court ruled in October against certain anti-corruption laws, qualifying as excessive the sanction of false information on the declarations of assets of civil servants. It also removed certain powers from the NAZK agency responsible for monitoring asset declarations.

The move hampered a $ 5 billion deal with the IMF that was already mired in concerns over Ukraine’s reform momentum and central bank independence.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that the country could sink into “bloody chaos” and be deprived of its valuable visa-free access to European Union countries if anti-corruption reforms are not reinstated.

Ukraine’s economy is expected to contract by 5% this year, dragged into recession by the coronavirus pandemic. Cases have increased since September and the government announced it would introduce a stricter national lockdown in early January.

On December 4, parliament approved a bill to restore liability for false claims of assets by officials, although some lawmakers criticized the legislation as ineffective.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; written by Matthias Williams, edited by Ed Osmond

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