KYIV -- Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a bill to strengthen the independence of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), a move that will move it toward securing more loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under a $5 billion loan deal.
In the vote on October 19, 304 members of the country's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, supported the bill that regulates leadership appointments at NABU, while 12 were against and 23 abstained.
The legislation must now be signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to take effect.
Ukraine's government established NABU in 2015 in the wake of pro-European political and economic reforms with the intention of fighting corruption among Ukrainian officials and political groups.
The country has long been plagued by graft, ranking 117th out of 180 countries globally in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index published by watchdog Transparency International.
The European Union's ambassador to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, hailed the approval of the bill, calling it "a positive step on Ukraine's anti-corruption reform agenda."
"[The EU delegation to Ukraine] stands ready to support a transparent, merit-based selection process for a new NABU director," Maasikas wrote on Twitter.
According to the bill, a commission consisting of three government delegates and three people nominated by international donors will select two candidates to lead NABU. The government would appoint the other candidate to the post.
A day earlier, Ukraine secured a provisional agreement with the IMF that could pave the way for a $700 million loan disbursement.
Ukrainian Lawmakers Approve Bill To Strengthen National Anti-Corruption Bureau's Independence