Ukraine's parliament kickstarts anti-trust reform
Photo: Verkhovna Rada

On Wednesday, the Verkhovna Rada adopted bill No. 5431 on strengthening the role of the Anti-Monopoly Committee of Ukraine in the second reading and as a whole, drawing the support of 258 legislators, MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak from Golos reported.

The bill was submitted to the parliament in April 2021. Its goal is to bring Ukrainian competition law closer to European legislation.

In the latest memorandum with the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine promised by the end of September to adopt changes to strengthen the legal framework of the AMCU, which would allow it to effectively implement its opportunities to promote market competition and combat monopolistic practices.

By the end of December, the parliament should receive a new draft law – on the institutional independence of the AMCU, improvement of the procedure for appointing key officials and strengthening of its executive powers.

So far, the lawmakers have launched only the first part of the anti-trust reform, which expands and improves the powers of AMCU. For example, it will now be able to search and seize documents.

The bill improves the mechanism of exemption from liability for participants in anti-competitive concerted actions (leniency), introduces the institution of settlement and joint liability of defendants when paying fines.

Among other things, the draft law provides for an increase in salaries in the AMCU. They were enshrined directly in the law with reference to the size of the subsistence minimum – from 8 (employee of the territorial branch, more than UAH 21,000 ($567) in 2023) to 30 (head of AMCU, more than UAH 80,000 ($2,166) in 2023).

Before of the vote, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention and the Ministry of Economy declared that they support the bill and consider it "an important milestone of European integration."

"This draft law is part of the [...] 'seven steps' determined by the European Commission in the course of granting us the status of a candidate for the EU. Moreover, we analyzed the text of the draft law – it implements the necessary changes in the field of anti-monopoly policy by almost 70%," Oleksandr Novikov, the head of NACP, said.

Critics of the draft law from the opposition, in particular Zheleznyak, consider it imperfect.

"One [controlled] body is being created with extraordinary powers to interfere in businesses," the official commented.