In an interview with Forbes, the Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told how the government plans to reform customs in six stages throughout 2023.
According to him, personnel changes will not be effective without structural reform.
"The government has signed an economic visa-free agreement with EU countries — all tariffs and barriers to trade have been removed. A transport visa waiver was also signed. That is, the situation that existed in 2021, when businesses complained about restrictions on obtaining permits to leave Europe, no longer exists. We are currently negotiating the extension of economic visa-free, that is, duty-free and quota-free trade, until the end or middle of 2024," he noted.
"Another important component, Shmyhal added, is that Ukraine has joined the European NCTS [common transit] network. This made it possible to issue non-transit declarations. For example, a car is loaded in Berlin, passes customs without stopping, and clears customs on the spot in Kyiv. It is a transparent system that makes corruption impossible."
What else needs to be done?
- The first step is the introduction of common checkpoints and a common database with EU countries, in particular with Poland.
"When the databases of Poland and Ukraine have the same information, everything will be aligned. Corruption from the point of view of smuggling will decrease by 98%," the head of government believes.
- The second step is the digitization of all processes and the introduction of an electronic queue.
- The third step is rotations at customs every three months.
"If brigades from Cherkasy and Poltava go to the western border for three months, it will be difficult to build corruption schemes," Shmyhal argues.
- The fourth step is to increase the number of checkpoints.
"The more checkpoints, the less load, less queues, less corruption. We are already actively working on this. For the first time in 24 years, Ukraine opened two new checkpoints with Romania," the prime minister added.
- The fifth step is a risk-oriented approach.
For example, if the cars of a large international food company from the S&P500 list are driving, the customs officials clearly understand that they are transporting, for example, food products, and not something prohibited. Such lorries must pass through customs through the "green corridor". And the "white bead" with rusty door sills, asymmetrical wheels, overloaded on one side — gets to the "red corridor".
- The sixth step is to install functional scanners at all customs checkpoints.
The government has already agreed with Polish partners on the purchase of the first 13 scanners.
"We have already agreed with the president of the European Commission on opening phased access to common databases. Currently, transit declarations, for example, do not reveal the value of the goods, which is a very important indicator, because it gives insight into tax deductions," summed up the Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
- On February 1, the Cabinet of Ministers dismissed the leadership of the State Customs Service. Acting Vyacheslav Demchenko was dismissed from his post. His deputy Oleksandr Shchutskyi was also dismissed. In addition, customs instituted disciplinary proceedings against another deputy, Ruslan Cherkaskyi. He was suspended from his post for the period of the investigation.