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Feasibility envisages balance between simplicity and strict control

Less paper, more business

Any path avoiding red tape is wise, believes President Alexander Lukashenko, speaking particularly on the licensing and control of certain entrepreneurial activities. He notes that entrepreneurs once needed written permission for virtually every move but, in 2010, a Presidential decree was adopted limiting such licensing to only 37 activities: far fewer than the number used by some Eurasian Economic Union partners (49 in Russia, 79 in Kazakhstan and 96 in Armenia). Only Kyrgyzstan boasts a similar figure, of 32.

Of course, there is more to a country’s business climate than such statistics. The Eurasian Economic Union is a group of single-minded states, historically connected through trade: supplementing each other and uniting, to enjoy a stronger position on foreign markets. However, there remains competition to attract investments and, with this in mind, Belarus is aiming to join the top thirty states for business conditions. According to World Bank data, the Republic occupies 57th place (among 189) at present. The country has much advanced in the sphere of taxation: in just a year, it has moved from 107th to 60th position. Naturally, all ratings should be viewed with skepticism but such figures indicate efficient reform and the promotion of business development. We need to keep polishing our administrative canons, including licensing, while maintaining essential control.

Mr. Lukashenko warns, “Any path avoiding red tape is wise but borders exist which shouldn’t be crossed: regarding the present situation and our present stage of development. If red tape and excessive obstructive administrative barriers can be eliminated, we’ll do so. However, we should maintain the quality and safety of our services and goods.” Production safety is vital, of course. Mr. Lukashenko recalled the outrageous situation at Pinskdrev Holding and noted that proposed legislation must reflect carefully considered, simplified administrative procedures. Some proposals aim to make licenses valid indefinitely (they currently last for 5-10 years) to reduce paperwork; meanwhile, applications will be possible by mail or e-mail. Courts will also have the power to annul permissions.

The President demands substantiation of each proposal in detail, focusing on efficiency and feasibility. It’s necessary to study whether courts should bear additional competence or if a licensing body could cope with the task. “A license issuing organisation would be fully responsible for the act and have the right to settle annulment related issues,” believes Economy Minister Vladimir Zinovsky.

Mr. Lukashenko approves of the proposal to set stricter demands and conditions for realising judicial-expert activity and works in the field of nuclear energy and realtor services. All legislative changes need to be perfected, with the final draft avoiding disputable juridical terminology. The document must be easily understandable to businesses. 

By Vladimir Khromov
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