Business is confused about the work rules during the lockdown

06/ 01/ 2021
  Businesses are concerned about the situation with quarantine restrictions. Thus, on January 5, at a closed meeting, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted amendments to the rules for doing business during the lockdown from January 8 to 25, 2021 which were set forth in the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution №1236. According to the information published in the media, the press and household chemicals were added to the goods allowed for sale. However, as of the evening of January 6, the Cabinet of Ministers still did not unveil the relevant amendments to the resolution. Instead, local authorities have already started issuing protocols based on the previous version of the resolution. For example, the Kyiv local authorities issued a protocol, according to which the sale of the press and household chemicals, as well as the waste collection, are prohibited (Protocol №74 of the Emergency Response Staff’s meeting). Thus, on the day before the lockdown, the business was left confused by the rules which it will have to comply with. Moreover, companies now are actually forced to take an inventory of products in one day so that to recheck again what should stay on the shelves. The business will be fined 17 thousand UAH if there is a product prohibited for sale on the shelf. It should be noted that such decisions do not give the impression that the government wants to establish fair and transparent rules of the game in the country. After all, just one day before the lockdown, the business was put in a situation when it is unclear which products fines may be imposed. And, accordingly, there is no way to avoid it. At the same time, it remains unclear why only household chemicals and the press were allowed for sale. Thus, on January 4, the European Business Association suggested a list of proposals that should be considered. For example, it is unclear why there was a ban on the sale of tobacco products available at food outlets, to which consumers have already gained unimpeded access. Losses of the state budget from non-payment of excise tax on tobacco products alone will amount to at least UAH 150 million. In addition, common sense suggests that even if the official retail network does not sell these products, they can be purchased illegally, and then the issues of product quality, safety, and lost taxes come up. At the same time, the Government did not take into account the needs of, for example, the elderly who do not know how to order products online. Therefore, in this context, the business community offers to provide consumers with access to the entire range of products in the stores that are eligible to work during the quarantine. Moreover, targeted delivery creates an additional financial burden on the population, and it takes up to several days to receive the order. Given that the Cabinet of Ministers did not inform the public about the list of goods that will be banned, consumers may face the inability to purchase everyday goods and tobacco products in the first days of the lockdown. Therefore, the European Business Association appeals to the Cabinet of Ministers to publish the resolution as soon as possible so that businesses understand how to act from January 8. In addition, the CMU provides the State Food and Consumer Service with clarifications regarding which goods are eligible for sale so that the legal business can avoid unreasonable fines. At the same time, local authorities need to rewrite the protocols as soon as possible in accordance with the new version of the CMU resolution in order to prevent abuse, violations of business rights, and unjustified fines in the regions. Hopefully, the call of business will be heard, and the potential chaos can still be avoided during the lockdown.

Businesses are concerned about the situation with quarantine restrictions. Thus, on January 5, at a closed meeting, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted amendments to the rules for doing business during the lockdown from January 8 to 25, 2021 which were set forth in the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution №1236.

According to the information published in the media, the press and household chemicals were added to the goods allowed for sale. However, as of the evening of January 6, the Cabinet of Ministers still did not unveil the relevant amendments to the resolution.

Instead, local authorities have already started issuing protocols based on the previous version of the resolution. For example, the Kyiv local authorities issued a protocol, according to which the sale of the press and household chemicals, as well as the waste collection, are prohibited (Protocol №74 of the Emergency Response Staff’s meeting).

Thus, on the day before the lockdown, the business was left confused by the rules which it will have to comply with. Moreover, companies now are actually forced to take an inventory of products in one day so that to recheck again what should stay on the shelves. The business will be fined 17 thousand UAH if there is a product prohibited for sale on the shelf.

It should be noted that such decisions do not give the impression that the government wants to establish fair and transparent rules of the game in the country. After all, just one day before the lockdown, the business was put in a situation when it is unclear which products fines may be imposed. And, accordingly, there is no way to avoid it.

At the same time, it remains unclear why only household chemicals and the press were allowed for sale. Thus, on January 4, the European Business Association suggested a list of proposals that should be considered. For example, it is unclear why there was a ban on the sale of tobacco products available at food outlets, to which consumers have already gained unimpeded access. Losses of the state budget from non-payment of excise tax on tobacco products alone will amount to at least UAH 150 million. In addition, common sense suggests that even if the official retail network does not sell these products, they can be purchased illegally, and then the issues of product quality, safety, and lost taxes come up.

At the same time, the Government did not take into account the needs of, for example, the elderly who do not know how to order products online. Therefore, in this context, the business community offers to provide consumers with access to the entire range of products in the stores that are eligible to work during the quarantine.

Moreover, targeted delivery creates an additional financial burden on the population, and it takes up to several days to receive the order.

Given that the Cabinet of Ministers did not inform the public about the list of goods that will be banned, consumers may face the inability to purchase everyday goods and tobacco products in the first days of the lockdown.

Therefore, the European Business Association appeals to the Cabinet of Ministers to publish the resolution as soon as possible so that businesses understand how to act from January 8. In addition, the CMU provides the State Food and Consumer Service with clarifications regarding which goods are eligible for sale so that the legal business can avoid unreasonable fines.

At the same time, local authorities need to rewrite the protocols as soon as possible in accordance with the new version of the CMU resolution in order to prevent abuse, violations of business rights, and unjustified fines in the regions.

Hopefully, the call of business will be heard, and the potential chaos can still be avoided during the lockdown.

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