On March 15, Constitution Day, the United Civic Party of Belarus (UCPB) is set to hold a march of ‘idlers’. Their aim is to help Lukashenka admit that he made a blooper when signing the so-called decree on ‘social parasites’ in April 2015. The party activists started collecting signatures for the abolition of the decree.
The decree 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).
“As a political structure, we cannot remain uninvolved. Moreover, a lot of UCPB members received tax office letters,” UCPB leader Anatol Lyabedzka says.
Signatures are also being collected in the regions – in Mahiliou, Byaroza, Ivyanets, Pruzhany and Baranavichi. It is part of the UCPB campaign ‘We should fight against unemployment. Not against unemployed’.
The collected signatures will be transferred to opposition MP Hanna Kanapatskaya so that she could prove when discussing the degree at the parliament that lots of the Belarusians do support the idea of revoking it.
“The authorities are trying to flog a dead horse. They do not create new jobs, do not attract investment – that is the the problem. Therefore, it is better not to pay tax on ’parasites’,” Lyabedzka believes.
On January 18, a nationwide campaign for cancelling the notorious decree on ‘social parasitism’ was launched by the Belarusian Trade Union of Radioelectronic Industry Workers (REP) and NGO Legal Assistance to Population. Anybody who wants to can sign for the abolition of the decree in REP offices in Belarusian sities and town; trade union activists will be also collecting signatures. The campaign will last until February, 18. One can also sign the petition on the Internet or leave their opinion on the website zvarot.by..
Activists point out that citizens have the right to demand further comment from tax officials. As reported earlier, a group of Rechytsa residents joined efforts to file a complaint to the tax office as they believe that the ‘parasitism’ fee is illegal.
According to human rights defenders, if the tax authorities fail to provide a proper response, one should report the situation to the prosecutor’s office, because the Belarusians’ first resort is the Constitution which provides for the right to work, but does not say working is obligatory.