Head of Odesa customs office claims customs reform is being blocked

Head of Odesa customs office claims customs reform is being blocked
August 01, 2016.

Yulia Marushevska presents the proof that the State Fiscal Service is blocking the reform at the regional level

Kyiv, August 1, 2016. Two months ago during his visit to Odesa region, Ukaine’s Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, tasked the Head of the Fiscal Service of Ukraine, Roman Nasirov, to resolve all the issues within his competence required to enact reforms at the Odesa (regional) customs office. One of the key issues that he emphasized was staffing. According to the new law on civil service, it is within the responsibility of the Odesa customs office to choose deputy heads and heads of customs posts. However, the State Fiscal Service is holding “an open competition” on its own without customs representatives, said Yulia Marushevska, Head of Odesa customs office of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“It is crucial that customs management is selected on a competitive basis, that these are knowledgeable people with good reputations. However, the Odesa customs office is not even able to announce the vacancy of the customs post head on a competitive basis. Deputy heads are being imposed on me [from Kyiv]. Staffing has been actually seized by the State Fiscal Service. Instead of the promised modernization, we see the conservation of the old corrupt system. This usurpation is headed by Roman Nasirov,” Marushevska noted.

She said the Odesa customs office had already sued the State Fiscal Service in court so that it is able to hold the competitive selection of personnel and deal with staffing independently. An important issue is to have the software at the customs office changed. The necessary equipment was received from the UN; however, as it was being installed at the customs office, the State Fiscal Service sent a warning letter to the Head of the Odesa customs house for such an attempt. She was also threatened with a criminal case. “At the moment, the software of the entire Odesa customs office is being managed by an IT department consisting of three people. They are fully controlled and not quite professional. Most simple tasks – installation of the system that automatically splits the declarations among the inspectors –turned into the setup of a non-automated e-queue. It is yet another example of reform imitation. While the result is what we need,” explained Marushevska. At the same time she quoted the words of the Deputy Head of the State Fiscal Service, Myroslav Prodan, who is of the opinion that “with the Ukrainian mentality it is impossible to implement this project aiming at eliminating corruption.”

The Head of the Odesa Customs office said that actions to reform the agency have been in place for the last ten months. 124 customs officers have been selected on a competitive basis; they underwent additional training in the U.S. and in the EU. “These are new people. They are ready to work in an honest manner. We have done our part of the job and now we only need political support at the central level,” called Yulia Marushevska.

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