News (#4 April 2020)

Law Digest

EU simplifies rules for transporting goods between countries

The European Commission has adopted new rules for transporting goods through so-called Уgreen corridorsФ to avoid queues and delays in deliveries.

In particular, it is about reducing the time to cross the border to no more than 15 minutes, opening Уgreen corridorsФ for vehicles transporting any category of goods. National governments should abolish their existing restrictions related to certain days or hours for transporting goods. Requirements of carrier documentation are also reduced.

Coronavirus counteraction

On March 18 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the Law On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Aimed at Preventing the Occurrence and Spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The Law provides for the following temporary standards with a period of validity of 3 months:

Ч procurement of goods, works and services necessary for the stated purpose without applying the procedures established in the Law On Public Procurement, 100% prepayment for such goods, works and services;

Ч exemption from import duties and VAT for pharmaceutical products, medical devices and medical equipment intended for preventing the outbreak and spread of COVID-19

Ч control over the prices on pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and socially significant goods conducted by the Cabinet of Ministers.

A set of legal standards aimed at protecting the rights of individuals and legal entities during quarantine and restrictive measures related to the spread of COVID-19 provides for the following:

Ч the possibility of working from home for employees, public employees and employees of bodies of local self-government or a paid vacation upon their consent;

Ч granting the right to owners to change the business hours of bodies, institutions, enterprises, establishments, organizations, particularly in the admission and servicing of individuals and legal entities, with mandatory informing of the public about this using websites and other communication tools;

Ч prohibition on cancellation of a certificate of registration of an internally displaced person (for the quarantine period and 30 days after its cancellation);

Ч attributing the legal fact of introduction of a quarantine to force majeure circumstances;

Ч extension of deadlines for the receipt and provision of administrative and other services;

Ч prohibition on conduct of state supervision (control) through scheduled measures for the implementation of state supervision policy in the area of economic activities.

The Law includes an instruction to the government to establish weekly fringe benefits for medical and other employees directly involved in work to eliminate COVID-19 in the amount of up to 200% of wages for the period of carrying out of measures to prevent the occurrence and spread of the disease, until completion of these measures, as well as fringe benefits to certain categories of employees servicing the core areas of life.

Moreover, fines and penalties for non-payment of utility services bills are not charged during the quarantine period; it is prohibited to stop the provision of utility services in the event of non-payment or non-payment in full, forced eviction of citizens for non-payment of utility services is also prohibited.

According to the Law, the legal fact of introduction of quarantine is classified as force majeure circumstances. The deadline for filing of electronic declarations by public officials this year is extended till 1 June.

President Zelensky signed Law No. 533-IX On Amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine and Other Laws of Ukraine on Supporting Taxpayers for the Period of Implementation of Measures to Prevent the Occurrence and Spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). The document establishes the following:

Ч payment of temporary disability benefits to the sum of 50% of the average salary during the implementation of counteractions related to COVID-19 for the period of stay in specialized healthcare institutions and in controlled self-isolation;

Ч exemption from liability under consumer credit agreements from 1 March to 30 April 2020;

Ч during this period, no penalties for violation of tax legislation, failure to pay or late payment of the single social tax (UST), failure to submit (untimely submission) of reports on the payment of UST shall be applied.

Ч moratorium on the holding of tax inspections from 18 March to 31 May 2020;

Ч Exemption from payment of the single social tax (UST) for individual entrepreneurs for themselves from 1 March to 30 April† (this period is included in the pension insurance record for the payment of pensions, other state assistance, social insurance).

The changes will also be introduced to the Criminal Code of Ukraine. It is proposed to introduce civil liability for unauthorized leaving of a place of observation or quarantine by a person who may be infected with coronavirus, as well as to increase criminal liability for violation of sanitary rules and standards on preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Establishment of civil liability for non-disclosure of information on public procurements carried out under this law on public procurement.

The following is established for violating the rules and standards established to prevent epidemic and infectious diseases, as well as mass noncontagious diseases: a fine of 1-3 thousand tax-free minimum incomes of citizens (UAH 17-54,000), arrest for a period of 6 months, personal restraint or imprisonment for 3 years, if such actions led or could lead to the spread of Covid-19.

If violation of medical observation rules entailed death or other serious consequences for third parties, the offender may be given a prison term of 5-8 years.

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