The Office of the Business Ombudsman of Ukraine summed up the results of complaints received in 2020 from entrepreneurs for violations by government agencies. Thanks to the measures taken, the business managed to return and save UAH 843 million ($30 million).
In 2020, the Business Ombudsman Council received 1737 complaints and completed the investigation of 1159 cases, which is 9% and 2% more than in 2019 respectively. A successful closing of cases allowed business to recover and save UAH 843 mln ($30 million). 98% of complainants, who provided their feedback, were satisfied with cooperation with the BOC’s team.
Business complaints trends
In total, 4 subjects of appeals accounted for 85% of business complaints about violations of state bodies: tax issues (64%), actions of law enforcement agencies (12%), actions of state regulators (5%) and customs issues (4%).
Despite the moratorium on most tax audits and reduction of complaints on this subject, the number of business appeals on tax issues increased by 14% in comparison with 2019 (from 981 to 1117 appeals). In particular, the number of complaints about tax invoices suspension tripled (from 95 to 273), by 63% on inclusion in risky taxpayers’ lists (from 127 to 207), by 36% – on non-enforcement of court decisions on tax invoices registration (from 108 to 147). Compared to 2019, business also complained more about violations of the National Police (from 111 to 121) and the State Security Service of Ukraine (from 17 to 24), while the number of complaints against the Prosecutor’s Office, on the contrary, decreased (from 81 to 56).
Complaints were predominantly lodged by Ukrainian companies (89%), mostly small and medium-sized businesses (76%). Traditionally, the most active in terms of the number of complaints were wholesalers (26%), manufacturing (12%), agribusiness (12%), real estate (11%) and individual entrepreneurs (10%) representatives.
Interaction with state bodies. The BOC not only helps businesses solve individual cases of public officials, but works to overcome systemic issues affecting the quality of business environment in Ukraine. Since its inception, the BOC has issued 383 recommendations to state bodies to address such issues in 15 systemic reports. Of these, in 2020, with the adoption of respective laws and regulations, the following were implemented: a mechanism to inform the company of the reasons for inclusion in the risky taxpayers lists and ways to be removed therefrom was introduced; regular work of the Expert Council on preparation of generalized tax consultations was resumed; renewal of electronic VAT administration system indicators for taxpayers, whose registration was canceled and subsequently renewed, was provided; “dormant” individual entrepreneurs now have an opportunity to write off accumulated arrears on the single social contribution; fines amounts for enterprises were revised and the obligation to inform tax authorities about the new CEO was cancelled; technical regulations on compliance of industrial goods were aligned with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and building materials were brought in line with the European Commission regulations; a law aimed at de-shadowing of scrap metal export-import market was adopted; a Single Export Web Portal to support national exporters was launched.
The BOC conducted two new systemic studies of business problems and developed a package of recommendations to state bodies – on administering taxes paid by businesses and the issue of court decisions non-enforcement.
“A new version of the draft law on the Business Ombudsman Institution, which takes into account all the key comments of MPs and stakeholders, is awaiting registration in the Verkhovna Rada. The law should stabilize the BOC activities, regulate its cooperation with complainants and state bodies, as well as clearly define the rights and responsibilities of the institution,” stressed Marcin Swięcicki, the Business Ombudsman.