Centre moving to the regions?

2013 Belarus National Business Platform subject to public discussion
By Vladimir Khromov

The 2013 event is expected to introduce several novelties, including discussions on the theme of ‘Future Visions of Belarus, or What Kind of Country Are We Building?’ Entrepreneurs are keen to show that they can think beyond their own interests, with consideration for the challenges and risks facing Belarus in 2013. 

Inequality exists between the private and public sectors of the economy, with weak mechanisms of antimonopoly control, expensive credit resources, and high regulatory, rents and taxes charged. In addition, there is a lack of highly professional managers. The question of the cost of credit resources and access to finance is one of the most sensitive, according to surveys of entrepreneurs. Debate is heated as to whether credit and monetary resources should be segregated into a separate bloc but experts agree that this is a matter for macroeconomic policy, which should be solved through other instruments.

The agenda of this year’s event has been prepared, including a discussion on the effectiveness of the implementation of decisions made at last year’s gathering, which was entitled ‘Modernisation — Together’. This contained 105 proposals, of which 28 received Government support. Already, 5 have been fully implemented, 9 are underway and 15 are partially fulfilled. Tax cuts have been positively assessed and entrepreneurs are hoping to see the question of provision of leased premises solved. A law entitled ‘On Economic Insolvency (Bankruptcy)’ is being drafted and conditions for real estate developers have been improved.

“Actually, dozens of questions have been solved,” stresses the Chairman of the Presidium of the Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship, Vladimir Karyagin. “Of course, much is yet to be done, so we should keep addressing these questions each year.” Last year, the results of decisions made at the 2009 and 2011 Belarus National Business Platform came to fruition, showing that the cycle of adopting relevant legislation takes 2 to 4 years. “This point must also be considered,” emphasises Mr. Karyagin.

Authorities and businesses have sufficient joint decision-making tools, including public advisory boards under ministries and departments. According to experts, one of the most important current instruments for implementing platform ideas is the programme of state support for small and medium-sized businesses for 2013-2015. “Business representatives helped create the document, which is our great achievement and hope, although not all solutions have yet been implemented,” emphasises Mr. Karyagin.

Before the event assembles, an analytical report will be prepared in February, detailing the state of our small and medium-sized businesses. This will be presented to the Government and other authorities before being delivered at the platform. A third Business Optimism Index (IDO) has begun, with respondents asked additional questions regarding platforms and programmes of state support for small and medium-sized businesses. Data will then be included in the final version of the platform.

Mr. Karyagin notes that businesses shape the agenda of the platform, since it must reflect their needs and promote their interests to local authorities. Businesses are moving progressively into the regions, with 95 percent of issues at the platform relating to their functioning.
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