Newsletter: 4th Quarter 2015
There was an urgency to change the business environment in order to attract investors to Ukraine. At the 16th IACC (International Anti-Corruption Conference) held from 2 to 4 September 2015 in Putrajaya, Ukraine shared their initiative of how it brought the business and government together to fight corruption.
Just in May 2015, Ukraine established an independent Business Ombudsman Institution (BOI) as part of the country’s Anti-Corruption initiative to effectively fight corruption and improve investment climate.
An ombudsman simply means an “independent official who investigates complaints from the public about mal-administration in government.”
BOI is a result of a tripartite agreement between the Government, and business comprising five local major business or trade associations and certain international bodies including European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). As the supervisory board of the BOI, each of these three parties has equal vote.
The BOI is a joint effort between Ukraine and EBRD. The latter was instrumental in ensuring that BOI became a reality. It was key in developing an appropriate structure that would enable the business ombudsman to function effectively and independently. The business ombudsman enjoys certain immunities from undue interference from the powers that be. Currently BOI is funded by the international donors from several countries.
As published in the BOI website: “The Ombudsman’s objective is to facilitate fighting corruption, increasing investment attractiveness of Ukraine and to promote a public service culture characterized by fairness, openness and accountability.”
The complaint process of the Ukraine BOI
- It has 10 days to assess and respond to the complainant as part of the preliminary investigation.
- If it decides to pursue the case, it can request for additional documentation to assist in the investigation from the relevant department in the state authority against whom the case is brought.
- In the event, it decides not to pursue the case, the reason for the decision must be provided in the rejection letter.
- The full investigation should be completed within 3 months. The reason for the extension must be given if an extension is necessary.
- Upon completion of the investigation of a substantiated complain, it will provide recommendations to the relevant state authority or agency as to how to address the malpractice.
- No fee is incurred by the complainant.
Since its inception, the Ukraine BOI has received about 400 complaints of unfair treatment. It is a good indication of the plight of the business community and also its high expectancy of the BOI.
Indeed the Ukraine BOI is an innovative approach to address the challenges relating to the business sector without having formal enforcement mechanisms. The premise, however is that this approach can only function well if the Government is committed to fight corruption, and is also willing to be subject to investigation by it.