Sunday, March 06, 2011

Worst customs service in the world - but smartest uniforms..

Deputy head of the Ukrainian customs service, Serhiy Syomka, appeared in the Friday's 'Shuster live' show which focussed on the theme of corruption. He looked magnificent in his flashy royal-blue uniform, starry epaulettes and gold braid - not one crease on his well groomed, carefree schoolboy-complexion face.

He fended off challenges from other speakers in the studio, on massive scams at Ukraine's ports and customs clearance centres, with smug disdain.

I couldn't help compare his demeanour with this, from one US publication:

"The inventiveness of the [Ukrainian] Customs Service in finding new ways to collect money from companies and individuals trying to do business in Ukraine surpasses that of some of the worst kleptocracies in history. The issue finally boiled over in a July meeting between the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council—representatives of U.S. firms that have operations in Ukraine—and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko.

The overall theme of the meeting was the irreparable harm done to the business environment by the Customs Service. But the specific focus was how their practices are a complete disaster for express mail and parcel services like FedEx, DHL, UPS, and others."

“There are only few countries in the world which ‘outperform’ Ukraine as the worst in the world. It is important to understand the impact of the shipments delayed at Customs which often result in lost revenues, additional costs for companies and the Customs Services itself. It generates numerous complaints from business community and private individuals. Last but not least it constantly deteriorates Ukraine attractiveness among potential investors,” said Vadim Sidoruk from DHL’s office here in Kiev.

“It has become common knowledge that Ukrainian Customs laws regulating express delivery are some of the most, if not the most, complicated in the world,” he complained.

“It is hard to imagine just what would lead the parliament and the Customs Committee to make the changes necessary to remove the roadblocks. However, I cannot help but think that if they understood the many development projects that have gone elsewhere in part because of the antiquated customs procedures, that alone would have a very strong impact on their thinking--and actions.”

In July, DHL moved into a new 8,000 square meter, $12 million package processing facility. It is one of the largest of its kind in the world for the simple reason that backlogs created by Ukrainian customs require this kind of capacity. Of all the packages held by customs in all of eastern and central Europe, 70 percent are being held in Ukraine, according to DHL."

[More at the link above]

Syomin's approval rating, which was constantly being assessed by Shuster's studio audience as he spoke, quickly dropped to percentage figures in the low teens..

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