A return to Odessa PortDecember 20, 2015
It has been a while since anything appeared here regarding Odessa Port and the Governor’s attempts to curtail the rampant corruption there (as well as Yushni and Illichevsk).
Indeed the last dedicated entry related to the appointment of Yulia Marushevska as Customs Chief in mid-October.
Unsurprisingly, Ms Marushevska is doing quiet well considering the entrenched corrupt system she is going up against. Unnecessary customs checks have been slashed in number, clearance times have decreased dramatically, and the plan to increase quality customers through savings in time and the removal of solicited bribes seems to be working – and needless to say is popular with the legitimate importers of legal produce.
The expensive x-ray equipment paid for by the USA many years ago now longer sits in the packaging it came in but is actually used on targeted checks.
Naturally Ms Marushevska deserves credit for the changes. Though she is a particularly organised woman, there needs to be credit also ascribed to the team behind her – the Ukrainian customs management under her control, the US Embassy Kyiv that is taking keen interest, and also the Georgian customs advisors that have been and done this before.
What is yet to occur is the Governor’s demand for e-clearance which was due to commence on 1st November. As this blog stated when he announced it – and entirely unrealistic timetable simply from a technical and skilled operator perspective.
Nevertheless, Odessa Port has obtained the free ASYCUDA software – a customs software used by about 80 nations globally that automates customs clearance and was developed by the UNCTAD and WTO.
Thus the technical part of the demand for e-clearance is now belatedly met if using his fanciful time line as a benchmark. What remains is the training to make the operators competent.
Seemingly, this training is not cheap – an issue long since recognised. UAH 17 million is the price tag rumoured, ($700,000 approximately), to train the Odessa Port staff. It sounds a lot, until compared to the estimated $1 billion in nefarious deeds lost to the Odessa region customs revenue that should otherwise be raised and entered into the State system – but isn’t.
Nevertheless, how many are to be trained, and how long the training lasts is not entirely clear, making it difficult to put a price on training per head.
Whatever the case, it seems highly likely that by summer 2016, which is a far more realistic date than that which has already passed first offered by the Governor, Odessa Port (if not the entirety of the Ukrainian customs institution) will finally manage to join the e-clearance system operated by 80 nations.
Some might call that progress – others however will call it a threat to their vested nefarious interests.