Post of Energy Ombudsman could be introduced in Ukraine
There are proposals to introduce the institution of Energy Ombudsman as an independent intermediary that will help to strengthen the position of consumers in relations with business entities operating in the energy and utilities sectors. It would ensure fast and effective settlement of disputes (with such service being free of charge for consumers) and facilitate conclusion of a settlement agreement at any stage of a dispute’s consideration. The corresponding innovations are provided by the Draft Law On Energy Ombudsman, which was developed by the Ministry of Energy.
In the explanatory note to the Draft it is noted that, due to objective reasons, the resolving of disputes in a judicial proceeding is not available for the majority of individual consumers. Moreover, it is a long and complex process.
The Energy Ombudsman will carry out his/her activities independently of other state bodies and officials, with election by a competition committee created by the Government. The Ombudsman will not consider disputes between business entities or disputes on matters of production and transmission of electric power; storage and transportation of natural gas; the activities of liquefied natural gas plants or wholesale buyers of natural gas.
Online stores to be punished for inaccurate information about sellers
MPs propose to resolve the issue of compulsory informing of consumers about the sellers (contractor, supplier) of goods, works, and services by subjects of electronic commerce. Corresponding amendments are proposed by Draft Law No. 6754 On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine On Protection of Consumer Rights and Some Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Measures to Take Out of the Shadow Economy by Subjects of Electronic Commerce.
The initiators propose to tighten the requirements for identification of Internet sellers and service providers, and also to give the right to the State Service for Consumer Protection to close the websites of violators and to fine providers that do not fulfill its requirements.
The necessity to introduce such changes is due to the fact that e-commerce industry in Ukraine is still largely unregulated by legislation. Thus, in the Law On E-commerce of 2015, there are no clearly defined requirements for identifying the sellers of goods/services. Effective mechanisms for responding to violations are also not established, and the issue of handling payment transactions is not resolved.
Draft Law On Currency made public
The National Bank of Ukraine has promulgated the Draft Law On Currency, which should become the only legislative act determining the procedure for organizing currency regulation and implementation of currency supervision in the country.
The proposed concept provides for freedom to conduct currency transactions on the principle that “everything that is not directly prohibited is permitted”. This model of currency regulation corresponds to international practice and EU – Ukraine Association Agreement. The Hryvnia will remain the only legal means of payments for goods and services, but special use of foreign currency is envisaged for investment and related operations, provision of banking services, etc.
With free flow of capital, the procedures should be non-permissive, as they are now, but notifying — for statistical purposes (calculation of balance of payments, etc.). That is, individual licenses for individuals will be canceled; deadlines for closing contracts for business owners of international companies will also be canceled without any penalties for their non-observance, since such information is needed only to collect statistical data.
The new liberal model provides for introduction of currency restrictions only to overcome or to prevent a crisis for a short period of time.
Draft Law registered on increasing creditor confidence in banks
Draft Law No. 6721 On Restoring Confidence of Consumers of Credit Services — Individuals to the Banking System of Ukraine was registered at the Verkhovna Rada.
The Draft provides that all banks operating on the territory of Ukraine, having unfulfilled obligations under loan agreements in foreign currency, are obliged to restructure their obligations under loan agreements within one month upon written application of Ukrainian citizens.
All loans received by borrowers of consumer loans and entrepreneurs for acquisition of any property and expansion of business are subject to restructuring without limitation of the amount of debt.
Debt on loans is converted at the official rate of the NBU as of the date of the loan agreement. Unpaid (overdue) interest for use of the loan and accrued penalties are subject to write-off. No interest rate is expected for use of loans after their restructuring.