On 24-25 December, when the world was awaiting Christmas, Ukrainian MPs endured a law-making 20-hour marathon. After passing some crucial changes to tax and procurement legislation on Thursday, the Rada adopted the 2016 state budget in the waking hours on Friday. Despite last-minute vote and a rather brief in-house discussion, a sigh of relief is in order: this budget package is much better than a lack thereof.
Adoption of a budget in the last days of December has become a Ukrainian political tradition of sorts. Many MPs usually have their suitcases packed, awaiting their winter vacations overseas, with only one box to tick. The urgency in past years stemmed largely from the inability to adopt local budgets without the state budget. This is less of a problem this year, as new legislation allowed for local budgets to be passed even without the central one.
This year, the IMF program has been looming large over discussions of the budgetary process. Mindful of some infantile MPs calling on postponing the review of the budget till January, ambassadors of key Western partners even had to remind the Ukrainian parliament of the need to pass an IMF-compliant budget before year’s end. These warnings seem to have been heeded: the Rada has passed the budgetary package that is in line with the IMF requirements.