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NikVesti sues the Mykolayiv TPP over access to data on the management's salaries

28.05.2024, 12:39

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The online news outlet "NykVesti" is suing the PJSC "Mykolaiv Thermal Power Plant" over the 100$ state-owned company's refusal to provide data on the salaries of the management and the supervisory board.

Chief editor Kateryna Sereda spoke to the IMI about this. The first court hearing was earlier this month, the next one is scheduled for mid-June.

"We sent a request for public information on January 24, 2024. In it, I asked for data on the salaries and bonuses received by the Mykolaiv TPP management. The letter also included a request for information on rewards, expense compensations, and additional benefits provided to members of the supervisory board of the private joint-stock company Mykolaiv TPP," the journalist said, adding that the editors received no reply before the deadline set by the law on access.

"NikVesti" wants to make the Mykolaiv TPP provide the requested data through court. The lawsuit was filed by Oksana Maksymeniuk, media attorney and the chief lawyer at the Institute for Regional Press Development (IRPD).

While preparing for the hearing, representatives of the Mykolaiv TPP responded to the jorunalists' claim by arguing that data on salaries, bonuses, material assistance, any other payments received by employees of a non-governmental body not from the state or local budget may be classified and that they were under no obligation to respond to the request. The PJSC also noted that the requested information about the employees of a private enterprise is considered confidential and can only be disclosed with the consent of the persons who have restricted access to the information.

"The Mykolaiv TPP did reply to the team's request for information three months after it was submitted, but it did not tell us the management's salaries. They justify their position by claiming that they are not a state authority, and therefore should not disclose such information publicly," said Kateryna Sereda.

According to Clause 5-1 Part 4 of Art. 21 of the Law of Ukraine "On Information", classified information cannot include data on the work of state-owned and communal unitary companies or business associations if over 50% of the shares in their authorized capital belong to the state or a territorial community, or of business associations 50% or more of whose shares belong to a company that 100% belongs to the state or a territorial community, if such data must be public according to the law.

The journalist notes that 100% of the shares of the PJSC "Mykolaiv TPP" essentially belong to the state-owned JSC "National Joint-Stock Company Naftogaz Ukraine" which means that the law forbids the company from refusing their request.

The media outlet replied to the company's response to the lawsuit, noting that the information they requested from the Mykolaiv TPP is of public interest, since the city was having serious heating problems during the 2023–2024 heating season, which makes it important for the city's residents to know about the income of the management of a company which failed to sufficiently fulfil its responsibilities to provide heating to the people.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 19.

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