SME Policy Index: Eastern Partner Countries 2016 — Assessing the Implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe report presented in Minsk
The report has been prepared by experts of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its partners: the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Training Education. The document contains key findings describing how our small and medium-sized businesses differ from our nearest partners and what aspects the state should focus on to improve the situation. The Deputy Economy Minister, Anton Kudasov, explains that the document is simply for the purposes of comparative analysis.
The Head of EU Delegation to Belarus, Andrea Wiktorin, explains the idea behind the research: in 2008, an important document was adopted, the Small Business Act for Europe; it used legislation to outline ten different indicators applied in the EU partner-states to support small and medium-sized entrepreneurship. European businesses in recent times have relied on these provisions. Europeans have decided to move even further by applying these models to their nearest neighbours: us. Of course, the results are not as positive as those of Europe but still they are rather optimistic. The OECD conducted its study in all countries of the Eastern Partnership, including Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The first studies of the kind were held in 2012; allowing for the possibility of comparing the present state of affairs with conditions in the past.
Speaking of the results of the investigation, Antonio Somma, the OECD Acting Head of the Eurasia Division, notes that since the last study in 2012, ‘slow yet steady progress’ is observed in Belarus. Among our strong features, analysts indicate the geopolitics aimed at development of the private sector, as well as considerable success in the field of reforming the normative-legal environment, the development of our business infrastructure and the growing pace of automatisation of services for businesses. The report highlights positively the high level of internationalisation of small companies, that is, their growing export orientation. In turn, failures are seen in the areas where our business associations complain: i.e. the necessity to cut the normative and tax burden and problems related to finance.
As usual, the OECD hints at conducting reforms in Belarus while indicating that, under similar conditions, our Eastern Partnership neighbours showed greater levels of efficiency. “Development of small and medium-sized businesses will depend on the realisation of systematic measures aimed at economic liberalization i.e. in the field of price regulation, branch liberalization and competition enhancement, “Mr. Somma adds. “It’s necessary to create equal working conditions for the small business and equal possibilities for all enterprises irrespective of their form of ownership.” Among the positive aspects, the OECD noted the Presidential Directive: ‘On the Development of Entrepreneurship Initiatives and Stimulation of Business Activity’. Meanwhile, the organisation is unhappy that, although the country demonstrates much success, it lacks a single strategy for the development of small and medium companies. This is probably not entirely true as, even while the report was being presented, Minsk was hosting an important event for Belarusian entrepreneurs: the Council of Ministers was studying a state programme of business development for 2016-2020.
By Alexander Benkovsky