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Government appoints interim heads of two ministries: Ministry of Agrarian Policy to be headed by deputy with NABU suspicion

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy will be temporarily headed by the first deputies of the dismissed ministers. 

Government appoints interim heads of two ministries: Ministry of Agrarian Policy to be headed by deputy with NABU suspicion
Cabinet of Ministers meeting on 19 January 2024
Photo: Government press service

The Cabinet of Ministers has appointed interim heads of the Ministry of Community Development, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy

The Ministry of Finance will be headed by Vasyl Shkurakov. The Ministry of Agrarian Policy will be headed by Taras Vysotskyy, the government's representative in the Verkhovna Rada, Taras Melnychuk, said.

Vasyl Shkurakov has been the First Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine since August 2021. He remained in this position despite the merger of the ministry.

Taras Vysotskyy also holds the position of First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy. In August 2023, he was suspected of embezzling 62 million hryvnias during the purchase of food. The case concerns the purchase of food to meet the urgent needs of the state under martial law. The NABU reported that the First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food implemented a scheme that involved the purchase of products at significantly inflated prices from a selected company for the needs of regional military administrations at the expense of Ukrzaliznytsia.

The Ministry of Agrarian Policy asked the NABU to take into account the working conditions during the beginning of martial law, Radio Svoboda reported.

"The essence of the suspicion is that T. Vysotskyy approved in March-April 2022 for the regional military administrations the invoices for payment in accordance with the resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 185 and 328 for the purchase of imported durum wheat pasta from 2 business entities, Olimp LLC and VinsideLight LLC. The investigation believes that the cost of the pasta was overstated and that this overstatement caused losses in the amount of UAH 63 million. In substantiating the suspicion, the investigation notes that the cost of pasta as of March-May 2022 ranged from UAH 33.65 to UAH 36.89. At the same time, the investigation does not take into account that the State Statistics Service of Ukraine for the period March-May 2022 provides prices for durum wheat pasta per 500 g, while the purchase was made for 1 kg, and therefore the price was more than UAH 72 per kg, which excludes losses. Obviously, this important arithmetical error should be taken into account and corrected by the investigation," the Ministry said at the time.

It also stressed that the investigation did not establish a direct violation of at least some norms regarding the type or grade of goods, nor did it establish a shortage (as of August 2023).

"Obviously, we need to recall the situation we all were in in March 2022 and how important the speed of decision-making and the efficiency of food delivery were. The situation was changing every day, the threat of occupation by the enemy was the most real in the history of the state. And the issues, including the provision of food, had to be resolved day by day, not in a week, let alone 45 days later," the ministry commented.

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