Business news from Ukraine

Ukrainian Parliament adopts law criminalizing smuggling

The Verkhovna Rada has amended the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes of Ukraine to criminalize smuggling of goods and excisable goods, which is one of the conditions for the last tranche of the EU’s EUR 1.5 billion macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.
According to MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak (Holos faction), the committee’s version of the draft law was adopted, which was amended in accordance with the letters from the Ministry of Finance that the business insisted on.

“1) It is proposed to raise the thresholds for smuggling 5 times. 2) The thresholds for excisable goods are to be raised by 2 times. 3) The entry into force (criminalization) of commodity smuggling is postponed until mid-2024. As I said, this is the deadline under the (memorandum with the) IMF on the BES reboot,” the MP listed the changes.

He added that the numerous wishes of the business community have also been taken into account, and that actions can only be classified as a crime if there is intent.

“Possible cases of prosecution under ‘smuggling’ articles for submitting documents with false information have been significantly limited – in the amended version, they must be the basis for the movement of goods, be subject to mandatory declaration under customs law, and have an impact on determining the amount of customs payments or compliance with non-tariff regulation measures,” Zheleznyak said.

During the voting, no amendments were made to the text submitted by the committee to the Rada for the second reading, but the text itself is not yet available on the parliament’s website.

According to the representative of the relevant committee, Oleksandr Bakumov (Servant of the People), the threshold for criminal liability for smuggling is set at UAH 6.71 million, which is 50 times higher than in the draft law adopted as a basis (UAH 113.5 thousand – IF-U). He added that the threshold for smuggling excisable goods (except for electricity) has been increased by “thirty-three and three and a half times” compared to the original draft (UAH 56.75 thousand).

Members of the European Solidarity and Batkivshchyna parties, who criticized the draft law, called the main problems of the law the presence of law enforcement agencies in the customs control zone with the addition of the Bureau of Economic Security (BES) and the unresolved problems that led to the adoption of the law on smuggling decriminalization in 2011.

“Ukraine is the only country in Europe and in the World Customs Organization whose customs authorities are not vested with pre-trial investigation functions… We could have left only what is transported outside the customs posts to be considered smuggling,” says MP Nina Yuzhanina (European Union). According to the current legislation, only the illegal transportation of cultural property, poisonous, potent, explosive substances, radioactive materials, weapons or ammunition, parts of firearms, as well as special technical means of covertly obtaining information is considered smuggling.

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Ukrainian parliament regulates activity of branches and representative offices of foreign companies

The Verkhovna Rada on Friday, 31 months after its registration, adopted as a whole the government bill “On regulating the activity of separate subdivisions of a legal entity formed in accordance with the legislation of a foreign state” (No. 4482).
According to information on the website of the Rada, 254 people’s deputies voted in favor of it with the necessary minimum of 226 votes.
“The bill provides a comprehensive approach to the regulation of all aspects of legal relations (civil, labor, financial) related to the creation and termination of separate subdivisions of a legal entity formed in accordance with the laws of a foreign state”, – commented on the adoption of the document government representative in the Rada Taras Melnychuk in Telegram.
According to him, the requirements of Directive (EU) 2017/1132 of June 14, 2017, concerning certain aspects of corporate law (Codification), in particular, the rules of disclosure of information applicable to branches of companies from other Member States, are also taken into account.
As Melnychuk noted, according to the draft law, branches and representative offices of foreign enterprises are subject to state registration under the same rules as Ukrainian legal entities and public formations that do not have the status of a legal entity, and their termination is carried out by liquidation.
Data on establishment and termination are entered into the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Physical Entrepreneurs and Public Formations.
The Law also prohibits the establishment of a branch or representative office of a company from an aggressor state or occupant state.
The fee for state registration is set at 1 living wage for able-bodied persons, and for the registration of changes – 0.3 living wage.

Ukrainian Parliament passed bill on compensation for damaged housing

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has adopted in general draft law No. 7198 on the creation of a state register of housing damaged and destroyed as a result of Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine, and the procedure for compensation for it.
The bill was supported by 275 people’s deputies at Thursday’s meeting, Yaroslav Zheleznyak, a member of the Golos faction, said in a Telegram feed.
According to the draft law, compensation will be provided only for residential property damaged or destroyed since February 24, 2022. At the same time, the law does not apply to the objects that on the date of martial law were located in the temporarily occupied territories.
Owners of apartments and other residential premises will be able to receive a housing certificate confirming guarantees of the state to finance the purchase of housing (including those built in the future) within a certain amount, while owners of private houses will have a choice between receiving a certificate and monetary compensation. Such monetary compensation will be accrued in a special regime to finance construction.
The bill does not set a limit on the amount of compensation, as well as limits on the location, type and size of new housing financed by the certificate. At the same time, if the cost of housing will be lower than the amount specified in the certificate, the balance of compensation will be paid only at the expense of funds received from the Russian Federation for the reimbursement of damages.
The term for applying for compensation is during martial law and within one year after its cancellation. It is possible to use the certificate within five years from the date of its issue, and it is prohibited to alienate housing (except inheritance) for five years.
The applications will be considered by the commissions for consideration of compensation established by the executive bodies of local councils, military or civilian-military administrations.
According to the draft law, sources of financing of compensations can be state and local budgets; funds from international financial organizations, creditors and investors; international technical and/or refundable or non-refundable financial aid; reparations or other recoveries from Russia and others.
As reported, Ukrainians have already submitted more than 325,000 reports of destruction or damage to housing through Diya

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Ukrainian Parliament allows exporters to use tax credit as collateral for repayment of foreign currency proceeds

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted as a basis the “agricultural” bill #8166-d, which introduces the regime of export security and regulation of the balance of payments of Ukraine for exports of agricultural products during martial law, which allows to ensure the full and timely receipt of foreign currency proceeds.
MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak (Golos faction) said in a Telegram channel that draft law No. 8166-d “On Amendments to the Customs Code of Ukraine and other laws of Ukraine on the introduction of special export procedures during martial law, state of emergency” was adopted as a whole at Thursday’s meeting by 231 votes (with the minimum required 226).
According to the explanatory note to the document, the bill allows the export of goods subject to the export security regime exclusively to legal entities – value added tax payers, whose registration is not suspended. In addition, in order to export goods for which the export security regime is applied, they will need to have a positive history in terms of the return of foreign currency proceeds for the previous six months and the absence of violations of currency legislation.
It is specified that if the exporter does not have a positive history or if its volume of export transactions considerably exceeds the previous six months, a legal entity must register the relevant tax invoices in the Unified Register of tax invoices.
“In such case the exporter will receive the right for budget refund for operations on export of goods outside the customs territory of Ukraine, in relation to which the export security regime is applied, only if the bank of Ukraine, which services such taxpayer, completes currency supervision over the resident’s compliance with the deadline for settlements of the respective operation on export of goods,” the explanatory note to the document specifies.
According to the author of the bill, such measures are caused by a significant debt of non-residents to the Ukrainian subjects of foreign economic activity, which amounted to $7.37 billion as of January 1, 2022, of which $5.08 billion was owed on export operations. At that, during nine months of 2022, the debt increased to $7.62 billion, and the debt on export operations increased to $5.45 billion.
“The adoption of the bill will facilitate the receipt of foreign currency proceeds and will prevent unjustified capital flight from the state by creating safeguards to reduce the cases of purchase of agricultural products for cash and the subsequent export of these products without the return of foreign currency proceeds from such transactions in Ukraine,” the explanatory note to the bill states.
Earlier, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine specified that the draft law No. 81660-d agreed with the agrarian sector was proposed instead of the draft law No. 8166 the provisions of which were strongly criticized by agricultural associations. The amended document allows farmers to use the tax credit as collateral for the return of foreign exchange earnings and not to use working capital, as it was stipulated in the basic version of the bill.
According to the ministry, the document allows legal agribusiness to export agricultural products without any additional regulation within the established limit. The monthly amount of this export limit is calculated as double the amount of the average monthly volume of foreign exchange earnings returned by a legal entity, calculated for the previous six months. Within the limit, exports can be made according to the current procedure, without any additional legislative regulation.
In the event that the company’s export needs exceed the calculated limit, a tax invoice at the rate of 14% must be registered for this overtime amount. After the foreign currency proceeds are returned, it is possible to adjust such an invoice at the tax rate from 14% to 0% and receive a VAT refund on it.
“In fact, this makes it possible to use a tax credit as collateral for the return of foreign currency proceeds, and not just cash in hand, as it was envisaged in the basic version of the bill,” the Ministry of Agrarian Policy emphasized in the message.

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Ukrainian parliament plans to regulate GMO products market

The Verkhovna Rada intends to regulate the sphere of handling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and improve the system of assessing their risks as to their possible impact on human health and the environment.
The relevant draft law No. 5839 “On state regulation of genetically engineered activities and state control over the handling of GMOs and genetically modified products to ensure food security” was approved as a basis at the parliamentary session on Wednesday by 247 MPs (with the required 226 votes), a member of the Golos faction Yaroslav Zheleznyak said in a Telegram feed.
According to the explanatory note to the document, its adoption will allow to delineate the powers of public authorities to eliminate duplication of functions in the field of handling GMOs, to improve the system of risk assessment of GMOs on the possible impact on human health and the environment.
In addition, the document will implement European mechanisms for state registration of GMOs in Ukraine, improve the requirements for labeling of GMO products and establish the rules of their traceability as well as strengthen the state control in the field of GMO handling and establish liability for violation of the legislation in this area.
Thus, the adoption of the draft law will allow achieving systemic compatibility of Ukrainian legislation with the EU legislation in the field of GMO handling, which is envisaged by Ukraine’s obligations under the Association Agreement.

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Ukrainian parliament adopted state budget for next year

The Verkhovna Rada adopted the law “On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2023”, said MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak (Voice faction). “Parliament adopted the State Budget for 2023 in the second reading and in general,” he wrote in the Telegram channel on Thursday. According to Zheleznyak, 295 people’s deputies supported the budget for the next year, 35 abstained, and no one voted against.
The votes were distributed as follows: the Servant of the People faction – 211, the Voice – 10, the Platform For Life and Peace groups – 18, For the Future – 15, Trust – 16, Restoration of Ukraine – 15 , non-fractional – 10.
The factions “European Solidarity” and “Fatherland” did not give a single vote in support of the state budget.
“Now we hope that international partners will appreciate our punctuality and fully finance the pledged … deficit of $ 38 billion,” Zheleznyak wrote.
As reported, on November 2, the Parliamentary Budget Committee positively assessed the government’s finalization of the draft state budget of Ukraine for 2023, noted its agreement with the International Monetary Fund and recommended that the Verkhovna Rada adopt it in the second reading and as a whole.
The Committee proposed to increase spending on covering the activities of the Verkhovna Rada by UAH 120 million, on parliamentary control over the observance of constitutional human rights and freedoms – by UAH 96.56 million, on financing the statutory activities of political parties – by UAH 519.39 million, on events related to with the privatization of state property – by UAH 38.5 million.
In addition, it was proposed to additionally allocate UAH 62.76 million to the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and UAH 16.38 million to the National Corruption Prevention Agency, all of this by reducing the Reserve Fund.
The Budget Committee recalled that in the draft state budget finalized for the second reading, revenues were increased by UAH 50.1 billion (or 3.9%), incl. for the general fund – by UAH 26.5 billion; expenses – by UAH 66.8 billion (or 2.7%), incl. for the general fund – by UAH 43.2 billion.
In addition, the deficit in the general fund was expanded by UAH 16.7 billion (or 1.3%) due to the same additional attraction of external financing – up to UAH 1 trillion 442.9 billion in total. “Thus, it is proposed to set the limit of the state budget deficit at the level of 20.6% of the forecast GDP (increased by 0.6 percentage points compared to the draft law submitted for the first reading),” the committee said, noting the significant risks of not receiving such loans.
As the deputies pointed out, the maximum amount of public debt at the end of 2023 was increased to UAH 6 trillion 422.7 billion, which is 102.3% of the forecast GDP (+2.2 percentage points to the bill submitted for the first reading).
When preparing the draft state budget for 2023 for the second reading, the forecast GDP growth was reduced to 3.2% from 4.6% and inflation to 28% from 30%. As a result, the revised forecast of nominal GDP is UAH 6 trillion 279.3 billion instead of UAH 6 trillion 399 billion.
“At the same time, the explanatory note to the finalized bill notes that more optimistic expectations of financial support from international partners, which will help support the balance of payments, led to an adjustment in the assumptions regarding the hryvnia exchange rate against the US dollar at the end of 2023 – UAH 45.8 / $1 (previous forecast – UAH 50 / $1), while its average annual value remains unchanged (forecast – UAH 42.2 / $1),” the committee said.
He added that the forecast of funds transferred by the NBU has been increased by UAH 51.6 billion and it is envisaged that such funds will be credited 50% each to the general and special funds, while in the bill submitted for the first reading – in full to the special fund. This growth made it possible to additionally allocate UAH 16.1 billion to the Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression, increased to UAH 35.5 billion.
Among the main changes for the second reading, the committee singled out an increase in pension spending by UAH 38.9 billion; production and broadcasting of television and radio programs for state needs – by UAH 1.4 billion; the judiciary – by UAH 1.3 billion (including the State Judicial Administration – by UAH 1.1 billion, the Supreme Court – by UAH 245.4 million, the High Council of Justice – by UAH 25.5 million), as well as increase in transfers to local budgets – by UAH 2.519 billion, mainly for social and economic development.
In total, revenues in the draft state budget-2023 finalized by the government for the second reading amount to UAH 1 trillion 329.3 billion, incl. for the general fund – UAH 1 trillion 173.1 billion, expenses – UAH 2 trillion 580.7 billion, incl. for the general fund – UAH 2 trillion 296.5 billion, the maximum deficit – UAH 1 trillion 296.5 billion, incl. for the general fund – UAH 1 trillion 124.6 billion.
The living wage is UAH 2589, the minimum wage is UAH 6700.