Head of Odesa Customs: We succeed in fighting corruption but there is still a long way to go

Young official reports on the regional customs office achievements over the last year, says Open Customs space and higher salaries can accelerate their work.

Kyiv, October 20, 2016. Over the last year Odesa Customs managed to reduce the number of unwarranted inspections from 170 to 20 per month, shorten the registration procedure to an hour and, most importantly, to overcome systematic corruption. As a result, 650 new companies came to the Customs. These achievements of the new team were reported by Yulia Marushevska, head of Odesa Customs, State Fiscal Service of Ukraine, at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Nobody can terrorize business at Odesa Customs. During the year we have shown that this can be done. The number of examinations has reduced but more violations are detected. No one stops the goods any more to collect a bribe: if there is an inspection, it is effective,” stated Ms. Marushevska.

The problems of customs sphere

However, according to Ms. Marushevska, over the past six months the situation in Ukrainian customs area has not changed for the better. According to feedback from business, a unified customs window is currently even less effective than the old system, which functioned without it. “This is not a reform, it needs re-evaluate. In our pilot project, we propose the way to do this, so that all control authorities could work as a single system. Not just to coordinate their movements for four hours, but really work as a sole system and finish all checks within 15 minutes,” explained Ms. Marushevska.

Another problematic issue is the automated queue system. “The way it is implemented at the legislative level is just ridiculous. In fact, it does not work. The inspector’s right to “remove” declarations from the system is still in practice, which does not deprive the system of subjective factors,” emphasized Yulia Marushevska. She noted that instead of investing money and resources in development of the system, a number of different regulatory authorities have been established, which function when the system does not work.

Plans and Challenges

According to Ms. Marushevska, the plans for the future include launching the Open customs space at the Odesa customs. There are 124 customs officers who have undergone training and  competitive selection and are ready to work honestly. “We are creating a new system with a simplified procedure and new IT support. Besides, we are opening the new facility in the seaport buildings,” informed the head of Odesa Customs. She stressed that it is essential to increase the salaries for these professionals. The Customs also is finalizing the draft Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers that should accelerate the launch of the Open customs space.

Yulia Marushevska stressed the need to change the IT system of the Customs Service to make it automated and “to remove” the human factor from there. However, this work has suspended and requires endless “approvals” and “discussions.” Another factor that impedes the work of the reformed customs is the fact that the company that has won the UAH 28 million tender for repairing the room of the new Open customs space refuses to complete repairs of the facade.