January 30, 2013
The Ukraine Ministry of Taxes and Fees has demanded that the International HIV/AIDS Alliance pay Hr 3.3 million in retroactive "anti-dumping" customs fees for syringes the alliance imported from a Spanish company in 2010. The Ministry of Taxes and Fees asserts that the alliance must pay customs fees established in 2009 for commercial purchases not specified as humanitarian relief.
The alliance counters that the customs fees were intended for "products meant for sale," whereas the alliance imported the syringes for free distribution to drug addicts to cut the risk of HIV infection due to syringe sharing. In addition, the alliance purchased the syringes while the fee was suspended due to a court challenge from commercial syringe importers. The 2010 cost for the imported syringes was $0.05 to $0.08 cents each, with no customs fee. In December 2012, local pharmaceutical companies won the anti-dumping suit, prompting the Ministry of Taxes and Fees to press for the alliance to pay back customs fees.
Alliance representative Andriy Klepikov stated that the Global Fund, which supports the alliance's HIV prevention efforts, might suspend alliance programs as a result of the taxation. Klepikov added that the quality of syringes manufactured in Ukraine was unsatisfactory. Each year, the alliance provides 120 syringes each to approximately 160,000 injection drug users, according to Iryna Malykh, alliance purchasing manager. Alliance representatives fear that cancellation of the syringe distribution program will result in increased incidence of HIV and TB in Ukraine. The alliance plans to challenge the retroactive customs fee in court.