Ukraine’s plans for institutional reforms

Ukraine’s plans for institutional reforms

Photo: unsplash.com / Eugene lifeinkyiv
15 May 2024
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Ukraine’s support by international organizations is usually structured as “money in exchange for reforms”. These reforms aim to make the Ukrainian economy more competitive and resilient, and gradually align Ukraine’s legislation with the EU laws. This will help Ukraine win the war, recover after the war and join the EU. Which reforms has Ukraine promised to implement in the coming years? 

We consider the EU-2023 review, Ukraine Facility plan, the current IMF program for Ukraine, and Ukraine’s Revenue Strategy adopted in December 2023. These documents focus mainly on fiscal policy and the financial sector, although they cover more specific areas, such as green energy, or more general issues, e.g. human capital too. Many reforms in these documents overlap making it easier for the Ukrainian government to implement them. In this article we consider general governance reforms and reforms on public finance management. We will consider sectoral reforms in a future article.

Decentralization: developing grassroot democracy

Both EU-2023 Review and Ukraine Facility briefly address the need to strengthen local governments and develop decentralization reform that has been successfully implemented in Ukraine since 2014. Specific steps for this are as follows.

First, during the full-scale invasion, civil-military administrations were established in some municipalities, replacing elected local authorities. While these are needed for defense, EU-2023 Review recommends setting clear rules for establishing these administrations so that they do not become an instrument to undermine local self-government, and local self-government is restored when it becomes possible. 

Second, when the martial law is lifted, Ukraine will need to complete the decentralization reform with amendments to the Constitution. Previously, both Poroshenko and Zelenskyi tried to introduce relevant draft laws into the parliament — without much success because their suggestions bore risks of power centralization and reversal of the reform. In the current setup the Ukrainian president already has too much power, which makes the system unstable. However, it seems that Ukrainian presidents are unwilling to cede their powers, even though this would be in the best interest of Ukraine.

Third, the distribution of powers between central government and local authorities should be clearly delineated. This exercise is not hard per se but reviewing and distributing multiple functions implemented by central and local authorities requires some time and effort.

Fourth, the EU-2023 Review recommends granting municipalities (communities) the status of legal entity in line with EU practices. Some Ukrainian experts support this idea, some oppose. Therefore, the Ukraine Facility foresees a study of pros and cons of this issue that would allow making an informed decision.

Finally, to provide local governments not only with powers but also with resources, no less than 20% of grants provided for reconstruction under the Ukraine Facility (EUR 1.1 billion) shall be allocated to local authorities. This will strengthen local-level decision-making and competition between local governments. At the same time, local governments should be properly controlled – both by citizens and by central authorities. Thus, there will be the law on public consultations and the rules for supervision of local authorities’ activities in line with the European Charter of Local Self-Government (currently public consultations are regulated by the Cabinet of Ministers Decree and suspended due to martial law). 

At the same time, the EU-2023 review does not recommend enacting the infamous law on urban planning in its current form because it entails large corruption risks. 

Table 1 below summarizes the documents that should be adopted within the framework of decentralization reforms.

Table 1. Documents that should be adopted for decentralization

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended deadline
EU-2023, 

Ukraine Facility

Update Regional development strategy for 2021-2027  Q3 2024
Ukraine Facility Adopt Cabmin Resolutions on maintaining the state-level urban planning cadastre, the Unified State Address Register, the Unified State Register of Buildings and Structures, the Unified State Register of Administrative Units, maintain the Unified State Electronic System for Construction Q4 2024
EU-2023 Adopt necessary measures to bring into practice the law on principles of regional policy  to strengthen the capacity local administrations to prepare development projects Q4 2024
EU-2023 Set up the rules of supervision of local authorities’ activities in line with ECLSG Q1 2025
EU-2023, 

Ukraine Facility

Adopt the law on public consultations (will be enacted 1 year after martial law is lifted) Q1 2025
EU-2023, 

Ukraine Facility

Adopt the law on transforming state administrations into prefecture-type authorities (enacted 1 year after martial law is lifted).  Q1 2025
EU-2023, 

Ukraine Facility

Publish a study on granting Hromadas the status of legal entities Q2 2025
EU-2023, 

Ukraine Facility

Adopt a law on better distribution of powers between central and local authorities Q1 2026

Law enforcement and judicial system: overwhelming changes

Both EU-2023 Review and Ukraine Facility pay the most attention to the judicial system and more generally to law enforcement. Indeed, law enforcement is the cornerstone of any reform because without it the “rules of the game” become useless. Perhaps for this reason the judicial reform in Ukraine has seen the most opposition and sabotage – because at all times vested interests did not want to lose an opportunity to bend the rules for their benefit. Nevertheless, with the help of the civil society and Ukraine’s international partners the reform has been progressing. Interestingly, Ukraine has about twice less judges and twice more prosecutors per 1000 population than the EU (EU-2023 Review). Perhaps this is not a direct indicator of law enforcement quality but certainly should suggest the strategic direction of the reform. 

Ukraine Facility plan has a few specific indicators of the judicial reform that should be met during 2024-2027 while the EU-2023 Review provides a broader view on law enforcement: besides judges and prosecutors it considers enforcement of court decisions and legal education, operations of the Bar, protection of human rights and fighting organized crime, as well as migration and smuggling. Both Ukraine Facility and EU-2023 Review touch upon the bankruptcy legislation but we consider this issue in the business environment section below. 

Specifically, the EU-2023 Review talks about raising the quality of legal education. This implies modernization of curricula, zero tolerance to cheating and plagiarism, merit-based financing, etc. 

In the human rights domain, Ukraine should continue implementation of the Istanbul Convention (including investigation and punishment of war-related sexual violence) and work on ratification of the Rome Statute. It should implement the action plan on barrier-free environment and the law on rehabilitation of people with disabilities, update the Human Rights Strategy (2021-2023) and respective action plan, update the legislation that counteracts discrimination and hate speech and adopt the law on civil partnerships (we analyzed this draft law some time ago).

The EU-2023 Review pays a lot of attention to the rights of prisoners: prevention of torture, provision of proper living conditions and medical care. The report suggests (1) establishing a permanent body including CSOs and Human Right Commissioner to monitor the situation and (2) annual reporting of Prosecutor General and State Bureau of Investigation on investigation of cases of torture and protecting victims. 

In line with the EU-2023 Review recommendations, the government renewed the Migration Policy Strategy until 2025 (however, it does not include Ukraine’s ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of Rights of Migrants). Ukraine still needs to adopt the relevant action plan with specific indicators for assessment of Strategy implementation. 

Other needed changes in this domain include aligning Ukraine’s legislation with Victims’ Rights Directive and EU Directive 2004/80/EC on compensation to victims of crimes, improvement of personal data protection, including implementation of EU Protocol on automated data processing, and de-institutionalization of children and elderly (according to Ukraine Facility plan, Ukraine should adopt the relevant strategies by the end of 2024). Finally, the Ukrainian government should communicate how rights and freedoms will be restored after martial law ends.

The section on fighting organized crime foresees upgrading the respective law and adoption of witness protection law. Prosecution should strengthen its pre-trial investigation function while the State Security Service should be deprived of this function. Ukraine should develop relevant institutional capacity to implement SOCTA (Serious organized crime risk assessment) and establish a permanent coordinator on fighting organized crime, improve legislation on firearms possession and work on prevention of illicit firearms possession and trafficking. Criminalization of large-scale smuggling of goods also foreseen by the EU-2023 Review, was implemented in December 2023. 

The EU-2023 Review touches upon media freedom as the main mechanism to protect democracy and people’s rights. The document recommends strengthening independence of the national media regulator, developing together with journalists clear rules for reporting from combat zone and establishing a more effective mechanism to obtain public information. The government should also adopt a roadmap of return to pluralistic, transparent and independent media after martial law is lifted. Ukraine Facility prescribes changes to the Plan for the distribution of radio frequencies and implementation of EU Directives on cyber security by Q1 2025.

The major milestones for law enforcement reform (Table 2) include merit-based selection of judges and prosecutors, establishing the procedures for punishing those of them who lack integrity or violate the law, and strengthening enforcement of court decisions. EU-2023 Review and Ukraine Facility provide specific recommendations for random allocation of cases to judges and prosecutors that would lower opportunities for corruption. Proper introduction of remote court hearings would support this change by widening the pool of judges to whom a case could be assigned. Remote court hearings were introduced in Ukraine during Covid-19. Today the law should clearly define what kind of cases and what type of hearings can or cannot use the online format so that the rights of trial participants are protected.

Taken together, these changes should strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of law enforcement and thus the business climate in Ukraine. Unfortunately, a lot of time has been wasted and we will see changes only gradually. 

Table 2. Documents and indicators for the judicial reform

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
EU-2023 Develop action plan for implementation of the law enforcement strategy 2024 (done)
EU-2023 Fill in the vacancies in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in line with the adopted legislation (currently 3 vacancies) 2024
EU-2023 Adopt the law with clear grounds for prosecutors’ dismissal 2024
EU-2023 Establish periodic performance evaluation of judges and prosecutors 2024
EU-2023 Adopt a law on Bar introducing more transparency, self-governance and integrity 2024
EU-2023 Introduce the system of random allocation of cases to prosecutors taking into account their specialization 2024
EU-2023 Adopt the law that formally introduces remote court hearings and regulates their procedural aspects  2024
EU-2023 Implement the strategy and action plan for improvement of implementation of court decisions 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the law on implementation of court decisions  Q2 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Amend the law on declarations of judges to improve transparency of their assets and revenues Q2 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF Establish a new High Administrative Court that would consider cases where government agencies are involved (instead of infamous Kyiv Oblast Administrative Court)

The law on this court should be adopted by the end of July 2024, this is an IMF structural benchmark 

Q3 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Fill in at least 20% of vacancies of judges as of October 2023 (441 vacancies)  Q3 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Establish the service of disciplinary inspectors for judges and resume disciplinary proceedings against judges.

Consider 20% of disciplinary cases against judges outstanding as of 31.12.2023 (2300 cases) 

Q4 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Complete evaluation of at least 1000 judges (50% of those who still had to undergo the procedure as of 30.09.2016)  Q4 2025
Ukraine Facility Launch data collection system on the enforcement of court decisions  Q4 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the law introducing merit-based selection of management-level prosecutors Q1 2026
Ukraine Facility Launch the upgraded IT system facilitating enforcement process Q2 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the law increasing the capacity and power of Disciplinary commission for prosecutors Q3 2026
Ukraine Facility Introduce a new e-Case Management System in the criminal justice (instead of  Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations) Q4 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Implement IT audit of court IT systems, adopt a roadmap and start modernization of this system, including new case management system Q4 2027

Note: here and in the next tables gray shades mark implemented measures, yellow shades – IMF structural benchmarks

Civil Service Reform: change in remuneration system and re-launch of competitions

Civil service reform is the key to implementation of all other reforms because competent and trustworthy public servants are needed to develop and implement relevant legislation.

During 2024 Ukraine will need to align existing legislation with the new Law on administrative procedure. The government also plans to introduce the long-discussed changes to the laws on remuneration of civil servants. Namely, the fixed part of their salary should be no less than 70% (currently it is only 40-50%), seniority supplement should be reduced from 50% to 30%, and classification of positions should be established (under implementation since 2024). Together, this should increase professional independence of public servants and attract more “outsiders” to the system. 

The EU-2023 Review provides a few specific recommendations on improvement of the statistical system of Ukraine. These are (1) strengthening independence of the State Statistics Service, (2) adoption of the strategy for the development of statistics in 2024-2029, and (3) increasing production and transmission of quality data to Eurostat. Ukraine already has a law on statistics that establishes independence of Ukrstat and the program for the development of statistics until 2028. Hopefully these documents are implemented.

Table 3. Indicators and legislation for civil service reform

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the law on remuneration of civil servants Q1 2025
Ukraine Facility Develop a plan for digitalization of public services until 2026 Q1 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the new law on entering, passing and exiting civil service Q3 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Restore career.gov.ua portal and HRMIS (electronic HR management system for public servants) Q1 2026
Ukraine Facility Adopt a law supporting electronic identification schemes aligned with eIDAS Regulation Q2 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Gradually restore competitions for government positions – first for category A, then for B and C Q3 2026

Anti-corruption and anti money laundering

The measures in this sphere can be broadly classified into (1) support of existing institutions (since there are continuous attempts to sabotage or compromise them); (2) strengthening of those institutions that function properly, and (3) “reload” of institutions that do not function properly.

The first group of measures includes implementation of the existing anti-corruption program (2023-2025) and Asset Recovery Strategy, support of e-declaration system, proper selection of the new NACP head.

The second group includes adoption of new anti-corruption strategy and program for after 2025 (to strengthen ownership, adoption of institution-level anti-corruption programs should be transferred from National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) to institutions themselves); the recent law on increasing independence of Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor Office (SAPO) and the planned increase of its staff from 70 to 150 people; the increase of National Anti-corruption Bureau (NABU) staff from 700 to 1000, shielding it of interference and broadening its powers, including on independent wiretapping; increase of the number of Higher Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) judges and allowing single-judge hearings of certain cases to speed up the work of the court. 

Examples of the third group of measures are planned “reload” of the Bureau of Economic Security and Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA).

Some recommended legislation has already been adopted, such as the law increasing powers of NACP and allowing it to check assets acquired by a person before joining the public service, and the law on lobbying. Some of this legislation, namely the law on the Bureau of Economic Security has not been adopted despite repeated nudging by G7 and Ukrainian civil society.

Table 4 lists the relevant documents and indicators for anti-corruption and anti-money laundering.

Table 4. Indicators and legislation for anti-corruption

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
IMF Changes to Criminal-Procedural Code to allow one-judge hearings in HACC (adopted) April 2024
EU-2023, IMF, Ukraine Facility Adopt the new law on the Bureau of Economic Security  (IMF structural benchmark).  Q2 2024
IMF NBU will check how selected banks comply with PEP legislation Q2 2024
IMF Publish risk-based approach for dealing with PEPs Aug 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt amendments to Criminal and Criminal procedural codes introducing plea bargain, adjusting terms of investigation, preventing procedural delays Q3 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Increase the number of SAPO prosecutors from 10% to 15% of NABU staff, i.e. from 70 to 150 (NABU staff increased from 700 to 1000) Q3 2024
IMF Implement external audit of NABU (IMF Structural Benchmark) Q3 2024
EU-2023, IMF NABU has access to independent and competent forensic experts to enable it to effectively conduct investigations Q3 2024
Ukraine Facility Adopt action plan for asset recovery strategy 2023-2025 (done) Q3 2024
IMF Complete selection of 24 judges to HACC with the help of international experts July 2024
IMF Amend legislation to strengthen anti-money laundering framework Q4 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Number of HACC of judges increased by 60% (from 63 to 101), support staff increased by 40% Q1 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the law on ARMA “reload” (transparent and merit-based selection for ARMA head, independent external performance assessment for ARMA; transparent procedure for the management and sale of seized assets) Q1 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Update the legislation on state aid so that it is effectively controlled by Anti-monopoly committee of Ukraine (AMCU)  Q2 2025
Ukraine Facility Implement next national Risk assessment for anti-money laundering Q4 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF Adopt anti-corruption strategy and program for after 2025

Define criteria for evaluation of Anti-corruption programs for tax and customs services 

Q2 2026
Ukraine Facility Adopt the law on unified registry of bank accounts Q2 2027
Ukraine Facility Launch the necessary software and hardware for the Unified Registry of bank accounts Q2 2027
EU-2023, IMF Develop a plan to provide NABU with independent wiretapping opportunities after the martial law is lifted undefined

Business regulation: introducing EU norms

While poor law enforcement and high levels of corruption pose an obstacle to business development, there are other issues that need to be addressed to attract investment and facilitate business activity. These include deregulation, intellectual property rights protection, company law, and antitrust. 

Specifically, the EU-2023 Review foresees launch of the e-license system (the system that issues licenses and permits in electronic format) by the end of 2023 (only parts of this system are operational today). 

Ukraine has done a lot for intellectual property rights protection in the recent years but there is still the need to comply with the EU acquis on copyright, improve the functioning of collective management organizations, combat piracy, and finally launch the Intellectual Property Court that formally operates since 2017.

In the antitrust policy domain, besides changing the state aid rules mentioned in the anti-corruption section, Ukraine should create a comprehensive inventory of state aid schemes, improve transparency of state-owned enterprises and public-private partnerships, and adjust the antitrust law so that anyone could file a market concentration case to a court without the AMCU conclusion. 

Company law should be modernized to increase transparency of company structure and cross-border operations, support shareholder engagement, digitalization, and gender equality.

Table 5. Indicators and legislation for business regulation

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Amend the Action Plan on deregulation (should include digitalization of market access regulation and reduce the number of supervisory and control functions) Q3 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Align the legislation on bankruptcies with  EU Directive 2019/1023 and EU Directive 2017/1132 

Adopt the law on SME bankruptcies based on the same Directives

Q4 2024

Q1 2026

Ukraine Facility Resume market surveillance (cancel decrees #303 and #550) Q4 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt a new SME strategy and action plan (the previous one ended in 2020) Q2 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt the law on deregulation introducing electronic permits and risk-based approaches: insurance instead of inspections Q3 2025
Ukraine Facility Adopt EU standards for machinery, electromagnetic compatibility of equipment, low-voltage electrical equipment Q3 2025
Ukraine Facility Adopt a law on simplification of joining to engineering networks  Q1 2026
Ukraine Facility Align Ukrainian legislation with EU procurement and PPP legislation Q3 2027
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt a law implementing EU Directive 2011/7/EU on late payments Q4 2027

Banking sector and financial markets: strengthening supervision and activation of loans

Not surprisingly, the IMF program pays the most attention to banks and financial institutions. But other documents mention it too. Given Ukraine’s extremely high financing needs, having a healthy banking system and financial sector is crucial for Ukraine’s survival and recovery (the other side of the medal is efficient use of funds which we consider in the next section). 

Some general provisions that should be implemented continuously are prudent macroeconomic policy (e.g.,  avoidance of “money printing” to finance fiscal deficits). The government should restrain from “saving” banks and increasing state ownership of the sector (this will require an approval from the IMF). The strategy for reducing state ownership in the banking sector remains intact: state-owned banks will be privatized as soon as this becomes possible. Besides, the government will continue its efforts to recover Privatbank assets. 

Planned changes in the banking sector focus on restoring credit. The necessary steps for this are a plan for reduction of non-performing loans (interestingly, the IMF program foresees that the NBU should develop this plan by the end of June-2024, while Ukraine Facility suggests development of the relevant strategy a year later), “reload” of the subsidized loan program “5-7-9” (so that it corrects the market failure rather than crowds out market loans), and gradually introducing EU norms into banking regulation. 

Reform program for non-bank financial institutions is more extensive – perhaps because the capital market in Ukraine is much less developed than the banking sector. Here focus is on insurance which is key to attract investment to Ukraine. The need for war insurance has been discussed for quite some time but at the moment insurance initiatives are too small and fragmented. The IMF program foresees development of the draft law on war insurance by the end of June 2024. Adoption of two draft laws — on valuation and on Motor Transport Bureau — will also strengthen the insurance sector. More generally, the planned changes should align Ukraine’s capital market regulations with the European and international standards.

The reform program (both EU-2023 Review and the IMF) also foresees development of regulations for financial innovations, such as p2p lending, banks as a service or virtual assets (the recently adopted law on virtual assets has many flaws and needs to be amended).

Table 6. Legislation and indicators for banking and financial sector reforms

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
IMF Amend the law on valuation (7386) Q1 2024
IMF NBU and Ministry of Justice develop a concept note for introduction of database of prices and price indices at the real estate market to improve its transparency Q1 2024
IMF NBU, National Securities Market Commission, and the Ministry of Finance together with international financial institutions suggest priority actions for enhancing the capital market infrastructure Q2 2024 (end-April)
IMF NBU develops a strategy for credit development, taking into account 5-7-9 strategy (the strategy for improvement of program targeting and phasing out support of large enterprises should have been adopted in Q2 2024) Q2 2024 (end-May)
IMF Select an internationally recognized advisor for privatization of Sense bank and Ukrgasbank Q2 2024 (end-May)
IMF Suggest legislative amendments to improve identification of related parties Q2 2024 (end-June)
IMF Amend the law to strengthen the financial stance of the Motor transport bureau (aligning with the EU Directive 2009/103/EC). Q2 2024 (end-May)
IMF Adopt the law on strengthening regulations requirements for payments market Q2 2024 (end-May)
IMF Increase capital requirements for payment market participants aligned with the EU payment services directive  Q2 2024 (end-June)
IMF Daft the law on war insurance Q2 2024 (end-June)
IMF Restore financial reporting of banks and non-bank financial institutions. Restore quality control of audit services. Q3 2024
IMF Concept note on introduction of derivative financial instruments Q3 2024 (end-July)
IMF Draft regulation for hybrid banks (bank – as – a service) Q3 2024 (end-July)
IMF Adopt the draft law on credit bureaus  Q3 2024
IMF Draft regulatory requirements for p2p lending 

(July – concept note, October – adopt the law)

Q3-4 2024
IMF Implement a supervisory risk assessment methodology 

(August – concept note, December – implementation) – IMF Structural Benchmark

Q3-4 2024
IMF National Bank, Ministry of Finance and Deposit Guarantee Fund develop bank rehabilitation framework  Q4 2024
IMF Develop strategies for Financial Housing Company and Export Credit Agency Q4 2024 (end-November)
IMF Сontinue alignment of regulation with EU Capital Requirements Directive Q4 2024 
IMF Develop new legislation on virtual assets to align with international best practice; introduce taxation of virtual assets in a few years Q4 2024 
IMF NSSMC drafts regulation of financial intermediaries aligned with acquis Q4 2024
IMF, Ukraine Facility Sign a MoU with IOSCO

Adopt and implement the law harmonizing capital market regulations with IOSCO principles (including more independence for Securities Market Commission)

Q4 2024

Q4 2025

IMF Align the definition of non-performing exposures with Articles 47a and 178 of EU 575/2013 Capital Requirements Directive Q1 2025
IMF Implement performance assessment of state-owned banks Q1 2025 (published in Aug 2025)
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF NPL resolution action plan by the NBU

Adopt a strategy for NPL resolution 

Develop draft law according to the strategy 

Q2 2024

Q2 2025

Q1 2026

IMF Update the disclosure requirements for insurance and reinsurance brokers Q4 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Asset quality review and stress-testing of the largest banks Q1 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine facility Update the law on selling stakes in state-owned banks (SOBs) Q1 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine facility Adopt a strategy for privatization of SOBs Q2 2026

Public Finance Management, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs): more efficient use of public funds

Since Ukraine’s resources are very scarce and it largely depends on foreign support, both Ukraine Facility and the IMF program pay a lot of attention to public finance management, with the aim to improve its efficiency. 

General provisions of these documents are not new: additional expenditures should be covered by additional revenues; the government should work on reducing foreign debt and its replacement by domestic debt (and the capacity of debt management agency should increase so that debt management is more transparent); the government should return to mid-term budget planning and start a more thorough assessment of fiscal risks (and those who use state guarantees should pay risk-based fees for them); and budget spending reviews should be finally introduced.

Both the IMF program and Ukraine Facility plan support the implementation of the National Revenue Strategy that should bring about 3-4% of GDP of additional budget revenues. On the expenditure part, they argue for strengthening of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, State Audit Service, and EU-2023 Review recommends restoring budget data transparency where possible. Since spending efficiency largely depends on efficient public procurement, the considered documents recommend aligning Ukraine’s procurement legislation (including laws on PPPs) with the EU acquis, enhancement of procurement monitoring (including AMCU capacity to monitor public procurement for potential collusion), and keeping exceptions from public procurement procedures to a minimum. More details on the public finance reforms are provided in table 7.

Table 7. Documents and indicators for effective public finance management

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt an action plan to implement the roadmap towards improved public investment management  Q2 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF Approve budget declaration for 2025-27 with enhanced fiscal risk assessment Q3 2024
IMF Establish a supervisory board for Business Development Fund, with the majority of independent members.

May – adopt the law on supervisory board allowing board members to file the same declarations as SOB members

September – appoint board members 

December – adopt a law on supervision and effectiveness assessment of the fund 

Q2-4 2024
IMF, EU-2023 Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy prepare list of PPPs and their respective risk assessment Q3 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility

IMF

Update medium-term public debt strategy Q4 2024 (Q4 2025 in EU documents)
IMF Diagnostic review of mid-term budget framework (MTBF) in line with best practices – Structural Benchmark Q4 2024 (end-October)
IMF Adopt implementation plan for the roadmap on public finance management reform Q4 2024
IMF Adopt amendments to the Budget Code linking medium-term budget framework and public investment projects and assigning Minfin as a gatekeeper on the projects Q4 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility

IMF

Develop single digital ecosystem for public investment management and reconstruction (Prozorro + DREAM + Minfin system) Q3 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility

IMF

Amend the law to enhance institutional independence and effectiveness of the Accounting Chamber and State Audit Service Q4 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Introduce annual spending reviews Q4 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Amend the Budget Code to introduce procedure for managing fiscal risks of local budgets; develop the procedure Q4 2026

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are a large source of inefficiency and corruption. Therefore, SOE reform has faced a lot of sabotage since its start in 2015. As Table 8 shows, Ukraine’s partners pay much attention to proper SOE management. The planned reforms include another triage of SOEs, development of proper ownership policies, implementation of the recently adopted law that improves SOE corporate governance, and appointment of professional and independent supervisory boards to the largest SOEs.

Table 8. Documents and indicators for SOE reforms

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
IMF Identify major public companies affected by war and respective quasi-fiscal cost Q3 2024 (end-September)
IMF Implement independent evaluation of supervisory boards of Naftogaz and Ukrenergo  Q4 2024 (end-October)
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF Develop SOE state ownership policy that would include clear objectives, financial assessment and viability criteria, and dividend policy. – Structural Benchmark*  Q4 2024 (end-October)
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF SOE triage Q4 2024
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Adopt a Roadmap on separation of public service obligations (PSO) and non-PSO accounts of state-owned enterprises  Q1 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Amend legislation on separation of public service obligations (PSO) and non-PSO activities Q3 2025
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Appoint supervisory boards with a majority of independent members in at least 15 top key SOEs from the Cabmin list Q2 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility Corporatize at least 15 top key SOEs as either joint-stock companies or limited liability companies Q3 2026
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF Develop secondary legislation for implementation of the law on SOE corporate governance Q3 2026
EU-2023 Publish an independent audit report on SOEs which are involved in the PSO activities  Q3 2026

*Here we see an inconsistency: Ukraine Facility states that ownership policy should be the pre-condition for SOE triage, while the IMF program says that the expected Cabmin decree should include both ownership policy and results of triage. 

Tax and customs administration: less avoidance

Problems in tax administration and movement of goods across borders are well-known. Different governments tried to address it with limited success. The Revenue Strategy adopted at the end of 2023 provides a comprehensive roadmap for reforms of both tax and customs policies and administration. Here we consider the administration part and look at the policy part in the next article.

By and large, the major instruments to solve the problems of tax and customs administration are centralization and digitalization. More specifically, Revenue Strategy plans to depersonalize (automate) communication between tax or customs inspectors and people or enterprises and introduce risk-based approaches to identify  those who violate  the law. To this end, tax inspection will get access to the banking data of taxpayers, after it introduces a proper data management system. Customs inspection will transfer document checks from border crossing points to central offices. To implement the recently adopted law on criminalization of large-scale smuggling, the customs service will develop a law enforcement function, i.e. it will investigate cases of smuggling. At the same time, more enterprises will receive the status of Authorized Economic Operator and thus be eligible for simplified customs control.

Both tax and customs services plan to develop their staff (training, raising salaries, merit-based selection procedures, introducing KPIs), exchange information with respective agencies of other countries and implement their anti-corruption programs. By 2030 information resources of both tax and customs administrations will be consolidated at the Ministry of Finance level and managed by an independent administrator.

Table 9. Changes in tax administration

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
EU-2023, Ukraine Facility, IMF Adopt a long-term digital development plan (consolidation and independent administration of digital platforms, data protection – “data masking” until the risk of evasion is detected) Q4 2024
EU-2023, IMF, Revenue Strategy Establish automatic exchange of tax information with EU Member States (Global OECD forum on data safety should confirm STS readiness for this) 2024
IMF, Revenue Strategy Organizational restructuring of STS in line with functional review (number of regional offices and staff reduced, risk management system introduced into STS structure) Q4 2024
IMF, Revenue Strategy Implement Global Taxpayer Survey, bi-annual since 2024 Q4 2024
IMF, Revenue Strategy Implement anti-corruption program for 2023-2025; develop specific indicators for program implementation  Q4 2024
Revenue Strategy Develop legislation for tax risk management system based on the Risk Management Concept Q4 2024
Revenue Strategy Introduce IT system for tax risk management  2024- 2028
Revenue Strategy Solve problems with data transfer from cash registers to tax inspection  2024
Revenue Strategy Introduce automatic write off funds from debtors’ bank accounts 2024
Revenue Strategy Strengthen capacity of local governments to administer taxes (access to tax data, respective legal changes, updating real estate database) 2024
Revenue Strategy Implement ISO/IEC 27001:2005 standard of information security 2025
Revenue Strategy Implement proper data protection system  2025-2026
Revenue Strategy Receive access to banking secrets and transactions data 2025-2027
Revenue Strategy Launch electronic system supervising circulation of alcohol and tobacco (e-Excise) since 2025
IMF, Revenue Strategy Implement electronic data submission for large taxpayers (standard audit file – SAF-T)  2025
Revenue Strategy Implement SAF-T for all VAT payers 2027
Revenue Strategy Merge all large taxpayer offices into one 6 months after martial law is canceled (after 2025-2026)

Table 10. Changes in customs administration

origin of recommendation documents to be adopted or amended or other indicators deadline
EU-2023, IMF Adopt the law that reinstates post-custom-clearance audit.

Develop risk management for post-clearance control and customs audit, introduce risk-based customs valuation

Q2 2024 (end-April)

2024

EU-2023, Revenue Strategy Adopt a plan for digital development of the customs service until 2026 (done) 2024
EU-2023 Align Customs Code with the EU Customs Code, particularly in simplification of customs formalities and enforcement of intellectual property rights. 2024
EU-2023, Revenue Strategy Extend AEO program, finalize the related IT system for mutual recognition with the EU AEO programme.

Implement NCTS Phase 5 and expand the use of the common transit procedure

2024 and beyond
Revenue Strategy Implement Anti-Corruption Program of the State Customs Service 2023-2025
Revenue Strategy Strengthen internal investigation unit, improve selection of customs officers, introduce periodic checks with polygraph  2024-2026
Revenue Strategy After a pilot project, introduce body cameras for customs officers 2024-2027
Revenue Strategy Create a special unit that will respond to appeals from citizens and businesses (HelpDesk). 2025-2026
Revenue Strategy Set up information exchange with other countries and joint crossing points 2024-2027

Conclusions

This article lists only the institutional reforms foreseen by several Ukraine’s support programs. The next article will overview the sectoral reforms and planned changes in tax and customs policy. 

The amount of work to implement these reforms is quite impressive. Moreover, some of these reforms will be unpopular with vested interests. Some will be unpopular with the general public (e.g. closing loopholes for tax avoidance). However, these reforms will make the Ukrainian state stronger and improve its ability to repel Russian aggression. They will also attract investment and help create jobs. Therefore, they need to be implemented sooner rather than later. 

We created this material as participants of the “Recovery Window” network. You can read everything about recovery of Ukraine’s regions that suffered from Russian aggression at the  recovery.win platform.

Authors

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The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations