Belarusian entrepreneurs concerned over new work regulations

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The Rakauski market in Minsk is empty. Social networks are filled with similar images of markets and shopping centers throughout Belarus. According to the leaders of the entrepreneurs’ movement, about 90% of individual entrepreneurs, selling clothes and shoes, stopped their operations on January 1st, due to the changes in the legislation on accompanying documents for the goods.

However, according to the Ministry of Taxes and Duties, the situation is not critical. This month, only a third less businesses than a year ago have registered to pay taxes under the simplified system. The authorities explain the empty selling spots on the market by heavy frost and holidays. Entrepreneurs form Vorsha, however, last week denied these allegations by coming out to protest.

In Minsk, nearly 1,500 SPs from all over Belarus gathered for the so-called anti-crisis forum organized by the public association “Perspective”, demanding the cancellation of the decree number 222, or at least introduction of a moratorium on it.

At the sidelines of the forum, an activist of entrepreneurs’ movement Alyaksandr Makayeu urged entrepreneurs to go out to the October Square to assert their rights on January 18.

The leader of the public association “Perspective” Anatol Shumchanka believes that by not selling goods and organizing crowded forums, the SPs have attracted sufficient attention of the authorities to their demands in order to hope for a compromise.

“Officials say that we are resting. They sent here today a TV channel crew from the ONT. There is a struggle of nerves,” explains Anatol Shumchanka.

Indeed, according to the Belsat sources which are close to the government, in the first days of the new year, under the influence of closed mass markets, the question was again discussed behind the scenes at the highest levels of government.

The result, however, was an attempt at a very limited compromise.The Decree 222 is not being canceled, but the Ministry of Economy has proposed the Supreme Court not to punish the local SPs for fake certificates as long as it is not proved that it is their fault, and not that of the Moscow-based suppliers. Entrepreneurs, however, believe that this is not enough, and there is only one issue ot be negotiated.

“The first thing here is to introduce a moratorium on Decree 222 and seek viable solutions meanwhile,” said Vyachaslau Pilipuk from the public association “Perspective”.

Lukashenka’s Decree 222 of March 16, 2014 canceled the previous benefits in the required package of accompanying documents for the goods and ordered to get for each pair of socks not only consignment documents, but also a certificate for compliance with the Eurasian Economic Community.

“We have been put in such conditions that the businesses got cornered,” said the outraged forum member.

Representatives of entrepreneurs’ movement argued that the Russian market, where they bring cheap Turkish or Chinese clothing from, such documents are difficult to obtain. Last year, the government listened and gave traders the time to sell the remnants of the goods imported under the old rules, but the resolution of cases was left until the end of last year.

At this forum the entrepreneurs said that they will continue to boycott the jobs until their demands were met. The representative of the Ministry of Commerce suggested to submit proposals to the advisory group, but prosmissed only marginal concessions. For example, one of them could be to extend the deadline for installation of payment terminals. The next forum is scheduled for JAnuary 25th on the basis of the negotiations with the authorities.

Stanislau Ivashkevich, Belsat

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