Vasyl Sehin, specialist of the policy implementation department, U-LEAD with Europe Programme’s Support to Improved Administrative Service Delivery, in an interview to Ekonomichna Pravda
From 1 January 2019, an experimental project of testing state registrars of real estate rights and / or state registrars of legal entities, individual entrepreneurs and civil society entities (hereinafter – the Registrars) has been operating in Ukraine. The Ministry of Justice initiated the project to improve the quality of work of state registrars.
The Ministry of Justice expected that such an innovation would help struggle with fraudulent registrars who promote raiding. At the same time, mostly professional registrars are involved in raiding, who knowingly go for violations and who will have no problems in passing the tests. At the same time, civil and criminal liability, as well as their exclusion from the registers in case of violation detection, are a safeguard against abuses of Registrars.
At one of the first tests, which took place on 20 February 2019, only 1 out of 80 people taking the test actually passed it. After some time, the performance improved and at the testing on 5 April 2019, only 18 out of the 51 persons passed it, however, no one of those working in the field of state registration of legal entities, individual entrepreneurs and civil society entities. At the last testing, on 30 August 2019, only 18 out of 60 people passed the test.
At the same time, it can be assumed that even a small number of people who successfully pass the test do so due to the questions network available in social media and due to repassing of the test. As a consequence, this approach does not particularly affect the quality of staff, but only creates inconvenience for Registrars and consumers of relevant administrative services (since access to administrative services is impaired).
Pursuing the right goal – to provide the sphere of business and real estate registration with professional specialists, the Ministry of Justice has chosen a mechanism that does not meet the stated goal and even partially contradicts the law.
The law already provides qualification requirements for the profession of a Registrar: legal education, fluency in the state language, work experience. But in practice, it turns out that a citizen is employed by the procedure prescribed by law and cannot start fulfilling his/her duties. This issue is especially relevant in small hromadas, where it is often difficult to find a person who meets the qualification requirements. Upon appointment, such a person receives a salary (and often the budget in small hromadas is limited), but cannot provide administrative services to residents.
The lack of clear criteria for the formation of tests significantly discredit the idea of improving Registrar’s professional competence. And the lack of an open database of tests / questions (like the tests of knowledge of the law passed by applicants for public service positions) makes it impossible to qualitatively prepare for testing.
In addition, there are signs of discrimination for those who wish to gain access to the Registrar's profession. The Ministry of Justice, for example, has published a list of compulsory training questions for individuals who intend to work as a private contractor, and promulgates a list of educational institutions where relevant training courses can be provided. In the notary field, the subject of test questions, tasks and drafts of notarial documents to be submitted for the qualification examination and the list of test questions for persons who intend to pass the qualification exam for the right to engage in notarial activity, have been published. In the real estate and business registration field, the Ministry of Justice published a sample of only 5 test tasks. Although the regulations of the Ministry of Justice stipulate almost the same obligation to publish sample tasks in the field of real estate and business registration and in the field of notary. But even from these 5 “exemplary” tasks we can conclude that the subject matter of the test covers a wide range of legislation, including the prevention of corruption, land issues, and more. The test tasks for Registrars are questions related to the activities of notaries (who may also provide relevant services), the scope of state registration of civil status acts, etc. However, in general, not all of these issues are relevant to LSG Registrars.
Given that this project is experimental, it is surprising that it immediately became mandatory for all Registrars without any interim period. In addition, as can be seen from the Decree of the President of Ukraine “On Measures to Counteract Raiding” and the order of the Ministry of Justice “On measures to strengthen the preservation and protection of data of the State Register of Real Property Rights, the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs and Civil Society Enitites”, the testing did not help in the fight against unscrupulous Registrars. An official analysis of results of the Ministry of Justice's experiment in half a year would be very appropriate here.
The experiment is designed for 2019-2020, yet because of a large number of negative reviews and a lack of visible results, it would be advisable to review the proposed approach much earlier. The main purpose of testing should not be to obstruct and restrict access to the Registrar’s profession, but to enhance the professional competence of applicants at the stage of preparation for it. In parallel, introduction of training courses for persons who intend to perform the functions of state registrars and increase in the number of advanced training courses by officials who already perform such functions are necessary. In addition, a possibility to abandon the experiment before completing it can be considered, since the result does not justify the goal.
Author: Василь Сегін
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