The so-called law on idlers will stay in force, but tax collection will be postponed for a year, Belarus president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Thursday.
“The decree must be adjusted during March. The decree will not be abolished. It will stay in force, with the adjustments I have just told about,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the Belarusian leader.
(UPD) “In March, if necessary, the decree will be corrected. But it will not be canceled. Let officials know that one should put it into practice taking into accout all the corrections of which I said before,” Lukashenka said.
“I am keeping an eye on what the media, both opposition and state-owned, report. I know about the statements by representatives of the so-called fifth column and even some things the public does not know about. Although the media have made some hints,” he stressed.
The Belarusian leader ordered to make new lists of those who must pay tax on ‘parasitism’ by April, 1. “The [existing] lists have to be re-checked. All deputies of local councils, the police, the district, the secret services should be involved in making these lists.”
“This is, first of all, the task of every chairman of the district executive committee, every head of a city or district administration. The governors and the Minsk Mayor are supposed to monitor the situation. You should have lists of the people who do not work. We must not hurt honest people, especially during these difficult times. Those 200-500 people who go on strikes are not social parasites. These people are those whom we have wrongly offended by requiring them to pay the tax,” he ordered.
Those who have already paid the tax will be exempt from paying it in 2017 or will get their money back, Lukashenka promised.
Decree Nr 3 signed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka in April, 2015 established the obligation of the citizens of Belarus, foreign citizens permanently residing in Belarus, stateless persons, who did not participate in the financing of public spending or participated in such financing less than 183 days (six months – ed.) in the past year, to pay a fee of 20 basic units (appr. $230).
The notorious decree caused a massive public outcry. In late February, protests were held in a number of Belarusian cities and towns. The most sizable action took place in Homiel where 3,000 – 4,000 persons gathered. This time, the Belarusian government opted not to break up the protests that later spread from Minsk to other towns. Interestingly, after the protests Lukashenka left for Russia’s Sochi.
Lukashenka leaves for Sochi after street protests in Belarus (ENG subtitles)
February 20 was the latest date for paying the so-called tax on parasitism. 51,600 Belarusians complied with the demand. In total, about 470,000 received tax office letters. Therefore, every 9th ‘idler’ paid the tax. The state budget has received 15.6 mln Belarusian rubles from them.
Lukashenka vs parasite tax critics (ENG subtitles)