Important Draft Laws. Issue 13: Tenfold Increase in Childbirth Assistance, Strengthening Discipline in the Army, and New Procedure for Addressing State Authorities

Important Draft Laws. Issue 13: Tenfold Increase in Childbirth Assistance, Strengthening Discipline in the Army, and New Procedure for Addressing State Authorities

Photo: unsplash.com / Omar Lopez
28 March 2024
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A review of draft laws registered from March 4 to 17, 2024. 

During this period, 37 draft laws were registered, 13 government initiatives and people’s deputies proposed 24. One of the main themes in these bills was mobilization and military service. Several bills propose introducing criminal liability for commanders in cases of service member deaths, granting service members the ability to express distrust in their commander, and implementing other forms of sanctions and military responsibility. Additionally, MPs are proposing to allow the mobilization of convicts, foreigners, and refugees.

Equally important, in our opinion, are the “civil” draft laws, including the new procedure for addressing government authorities, increased assistance for childbirth, new requirements for state procurement, and preferences for honest taxpayers, which the media has already dubbed the “white business club,” and others.

Updating the procedure for addressing government agencies

If adopted, Bill No. 11082 would replace the current law “On Citizens’ Appeals.” Compared to the current law, the bill expands the circle of those who can address government authorities: besides citizens, legal entities, entrepreneurs, and public organizations would also have this right.

A portion of the appeals (such as those requesting licenses, permits, official documents, or subsidies) would be considered according to the law on administrative procedure. However, Bill No. 11082 would cover the rest of the appeals, requests explicitly for clarification of legislation, information about the working schedule and procedure for visiting government authorities, and proposals to improve government authorities’ functioning or complaints about not receiving a response to a previous appeal. 

Government bodies would be obligated to publish information on their website regarding the scope of their authority, the procedure for submitting and reviewing appeals, and to promptly (within 30 days) inform the applicant about the results of the appeal review.

Appeals can be submitted in paper or electronic form using electronic signatures. Additionally, the bill allows representatives of government authorities to conduct personal consultations via video conferencing. 

Compared to the current law, the bill restricts citizens’ rights while considering their applications or complaints. Specifically, it deprives them of the right to familiarize themselves with the materials of the investigation, to be present during the consideration of the application or complaint, to use the services of a lawyer or human rights organization, and to demand compensation for damages arising from violations of the procedure for reviewing appeals.

Stimulating childbirth through increased assistance to families with children

Bill No. 11072 proposes to increase childbirth assistance and tie it to the subsistence minimum for children under six. According to current legislation, the amount of aid is UAH 41,280 regardless of the number of children born, and it has stayed the same since 2014. The bill’s authors propose linking the amount of assistance to the size of the subsistence minimum (SM) for children under six years old, set at the time of the child’s birth (as of January 1, 2024, it is UAH 2,563). According to the bill, assistance for the birth of the first child should be 150 SM (currently UAH 384,500), 100 SM (UAH 256,300) for the second child, and 50 SM (UAH 128,200) for the third and each subsequent child. At the same time, 20 SM (UAH 51,260) would be paid immediately, with the rest paid in equal installments over three years.

The project also proposes reinstating childcare assistance until the child reaches the age of three, which was abolished in 2014 and merged with childbirth assistance. It would be equal to the difference between the subsistence minimum for non-disabled individuals (UAH 3,028) and the average monthly income per person in the family for the previous six months but not less than 50% of the subsistence minimum for children under six years old (UAH 1,281).

If adopted, the bill would be enacted on January 1, 2025. The bill’s authors do not provide the funds needed to implement this project, but compared to current payments, they would increase approximately 3-9 times. Such funds are unlikely to be available in the Ukrainian budget. Moreover, a more effective tool for increasing birth rates is not child benefits but the infrastructure that combines a career and motherhood, such as childcare facilities.

Benefits for Honest Taxpayers

Bill No. 11084 proposes establishing a List of taxpayers with a high level of voluntary compliance with tax legislation who would enjoy a range of benefits in tax administration during martial law. Specifically, for such taxpayers:

  • Documentary checks would not be conducted (except for unscheduled checks or upon request of the taxpayer);
  • The deadline for checks would be five calendar days for each type of check (30 days for others);
  • Taxpayers would be assigned a compliance manager, from whom individual tax consultations can be obtained within five days. Interaction with the compliance manager can occur in various formats: orally, in writing, and via video conferencing.

The list of such taxpayers is to be compiled by the State Tax Service quarterly (taking into consideration reporting indicators for the previous quarter and in the case of an annual reporting period, such as for individual entrepreneurs of the third group who submit a report on the unified social contribution (USC) once a year, reporting indicators for the previous year are taken into account). Information about including a taxpayer in the List would be provided through the taxpayer’s electronic cabinet, specifying the contact details of the compliance manager.

To qualify for these privileges, the taxpayer must simultaneously meet the following general criteria and requirements:

  • The debt for tax payments or USC does not exceed 180 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens (NMIC), i.e., 3,060 UAH;
  • There are no unresolved tax liabilities resulting from checks totaling more than 3,000 NMIC (UAH 51,000 UAH);
  • There are no violations of tax obligations regarding the submission of reporting and documents;
  • The deadlines for settlements for operations involving the export and import of goods are adhered to;
  • The taxpayer is not under sanctions and does not meet the VAT payer risk criteria.

In addition to the general requirements, additional requirements are established for specific categories of enterprises or individual entrepreneurs: 

Taxpayer category Conditions for inclusion in the List
Legal entities under the general taxation system – Income tax payment level ≥ industry average; 

– VAT payment level ≥ industry average (except for exporters with export volume share in total supply ≥ 25%); 

– Payroll accruals/payments ≥ 110% of the average wage; 

– Number of employees ≥ 5 persons.

Legal entities under the simplified taxation system (Single Tax Payers of the third group) – Tax payment level ≥ industry average;

– Payroll accruals/payments ≥ 110% of the average wage; 

– Number of employees ≥ 5 persons.

Legal entities under the simplified taxation system (Single Tax Payers of the fourth group) – Tax payment level per 1 hectare ≥ country average; 

– Payroll accruals/payments ≥ 110% of the average wage; 

– Number of employees ≥ 5 persons; 

– Ownership/lease of ≥ 500 hectares of land (or municipal/state land ≥ 0.5 hectares) and timely payment of land tax.

Individual Entrepreneurs under the general taxation system – Tax obligations level ≥ industry average; 

– Payroll accruals/payments ≥ 110% of the average wage.

Individual Entrepreneurs under the simplified taxation system (Single Taxpayers of the third group) – Income volume ≥ UAH 5 million (currently, the limit for being on the simplified taxation system is UAH 8.25 million); 

– Tax payment level ≥ industry average; 

– Payroll accruals/payments ≥ 110% of the average wage.

Newly registered taxpayers can be included in the List one month after the reporting quarter and after one year from the date of registration.

Strengthening discipline and order in the army and allowing the mobilization of convicts

Bill No. 11077 proposes, on the one hand, to strengthen the criminal liability of commanders for violations and, on the other hand, to mitigate penalties for certain breaches for service members and increase opportunities for the protection of their rights, namely: 

  • Punishment for issuing criminal orders or directives (defined as orders or directives that knowingly command the executor to commit a crime and/or those whose execution is knowingly impossible or would result in the loss of over 50 percent of the unit’s personnel, as well as for the actual loss of 50 percent or more of the unit’s personnel in executing such an order) — in the form of service restrictions* for up to four years or confinement to a disciplinary battalion for up to two years, or imprisonment for up to four years. (*10-20% of the convicted individual’s monetary remuneration is deducted and transferred to the state budget; the convicted individual cannot be promoted in position or military rank, and the punishment period does not count towards service length for the purpose of promotion to the next army rank);
  • Inadmissibility of punishment for refusing to execute an order that was clearly criminal and impossible to implement;
  • Mitigation of punishment for a service member in case of unauthorized departure from the unit and their return to the military unit during martial law: if the soldier returns within five days, no punishment is imposed (currently, under the conditions of martial law, imprisonment for a term of 5 to 10 years is imposed); for returning within 5-14 days, a fine of UAH 17-68 thousand is imposed; and returning within 14-30 days entails a fine of UAH 34 to 102 thousand or service restrictions for up to three years or imprisonment for one year;
  • Administrative punishment for a military unit commander providing false information about a service member’s unauthorized departure from the military unit is a fine ranging from UAH 1,700 to 9,000.
  • Convicted or imprisoned individuals may be called to service during mobilization, except those who have committed serious crimes. It is also provided that the execution of a court decision may be suspended during the period of military service during mobilization;
  • Introduction of administrative and criminal liability for unit commanders for non-payment of monetary allowances, other payments, and additional rewards to service members.
  • Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code clarify that criminal offenses committed by military personnel holding positions or performing duties as commanders of military units, brigades, or battalions fall under the jurisdiction of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) (currently under the Criminal Procedure Code, pre-trial investigation of military criminal offenses is conducted by investigators of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). NABU’s jurisdiction applies to senior officer personnel).
  • Administrative liability for failure to respond to a service member’s report.
  • Administrative liability for being under the influence of substances: deprivation of monetary allowances and other payments and suspension of benefits for service members and their family members.

Another draft law (No. 11076) partially duplicates the provisions of the previous one (especially regarding liability for personnel loss, provisions on unauthorized departure from the unit, and deprivation of social benefits and payments for the use of prohibited substances), but also contains several distinct provisions, including: 

  • Appointment to officer positions of service members who do not hold officer ranks but have combat experience and education not lower than a bachelor’s degree is permitted.
  • An Interdepartmental Commission on Compliance Monitoring by Military Officials and Commanders is established, which will consider violations of military legislation and take appropriate measures: suspension from performing their duties during the consideration of violations and transfer of information about the circumstances of the breach to law enforcement agencies. The commission will consist of one representative from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, the State Bureau of Investigation, specialized prosecution in the defense sector, and the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • It provides for the submission of a collective petition signed by over 60 percent of the personnel of a unit, expressing a lack of confidence in the commander. The immediate consequence of such a petition would be the immediate removal of the commander from their position. The Interdepartmental Commission will then consider the circumstances stated in the collective petition.
  • Registration with the military of individuals previously convicted of minor offenses;
  • Conscription of refugees (non-citizens of Ukraine who have been granted asylum by Ukraine) and individuals in need of additional protection or shelter during mobilization.
  • The possibility of granting Ukrainian citizenship to foreigners who defend Ukraine, not only after three years of residence in Ukraine following the conclusion of a contract but also in the case of six months of participation in hostilities.

Project No. 11079 outlines the conditions for the early conditional release of convicts from serving their sentences if they wish to join the military on contract. This bill, more detailed than previous ones, specifies the conditions for the service of convicts. It is proposed that such individuals serve in specialized units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under the administrative supervision of the unit commander (as provided by the Law on Administrative Supervision of Persons Released from Places of Deprivation of Liberty). They would have limited rights during their service (no regular leave entitlements, but they would have the opportunity for treatment in case of illness or injury), and in case of evasion from service after conditional early release, they may face imprisonment for five to eight years. These individuals are discharged from service in three cases: due to health reasons, upon receiving a new sentence and imprisonment, or upon completion of a special period or declaration of demobilization. Unlike previous projects, this bill proposes to allow even those convicted of serious crimes to serve, except for individuals convicted of crimes against the national security of Ukraine. This project aims to attract a more significant number of citizens to military service on contract during martial law.

New requirements for working in the public sector

MPs propose (Project No. 11066) to establish a new requirement for candidates for positions in the civil service, local self-government bodies, the prosecutor’s office, and the national police – basic military training (BMT), military service, or participation in hostilities. These requirements would take effect one year after the introduction of basic military training, as provided by the Law On the Foundations of National Resistance and the Procedure for the Organization and Conduct of Basic Military Training for Citizens of Ukraine for National Resistance.

Transparency in Government Procurement

Bill No. 11057 aims to change the procurement rules in Ukraine. According to this bill, documents with the title, characteristics, price, and quantity of materials used in construction, reconstruction, renovation, and repair works must be attached to the contract to procure services. These documents must be attached regardless of the stage or method used to determine the contract price (e.g., during design with subsequent construction or in the case of road construction and subsequent repair). The bill proposes to publish prices for materials in the following cases: (1) when a contract is concluded for current repair or construction services; (2) during construction or repair under the “design and build” principle, when the contractor is responsible for developing project documentation after agreeing on the price based on approved project documentation; (3) if the contract for construction work procurement or current repair services is amended and the prices for material resources change. 

The new “old” State Agricultural Registry

Bill No. 11063, “On the State Agricultural Registry” (DAR), aims to encourage agricultural companies and related enterprises to register in the State Agricultural Registry. Access to the registry can be obtained through the Diia platform. This bill allows organizations of water users, agricultural complex entities, and domestic agrarian machinery enterprises to register in the registry (currently, only agricultural producers can be registered in the DAR). Registration in the DAR is mandatory for obtaining state support from local budgets, international technical assistance, grants in agriculture, guarantees for credit obligations, agricultural product insurance, and more. The project also provides third parties, such as government agencies, banks, and financial institutions, access to the registry to obtain information about agricultural firms and related enterprises.

Decriminalization of firearm possession

Bill No. 11073 proposes to remove Articles 263 and 263-1 from the Criminal Code, which provide for liability for the illegal manufacture, alteration (including changing markings), repair of firearms, and illegal handling of weapons, ammunition, or explosives. Instead of criminal liability, the bill proposes to establish administrative responsibility. For the purchase, storage, or transfer of firearms without permission from the National Police, a fine of UAH 960-2,280 is envisaged. For the manufacture, alteration, and repair of weapons without a license from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a UAH 17-34 thousand fine is proposed, as well as confiscation of firearms and proceeds from such activities.

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