Obviously timely decision to spare discomfort

In 2013, the state ruled that entrepreneurs conducting retail trade should be able to show documents proving purchase of goods

In 2013, the state ruled that entrepreneurs conducting retail trade should be able to show documents proving purchase of goods. Responding to pleas for a staged introduction, the final deadline for compliance was shifted to March 1st 2015, to allow time for businessmen to sell outstanding stock. As that date approached, the Government again received requests for ‘more time’ from retailers, obliging the President to intervene. After lengthy discussion with those working at Expobel shopping centre, an extension was granted until the end of 2015. It is asserted that no further time will be given.

Minsk entrepreneur Oleg Basko is famous for having become the millionth resident of Minsk 43 years ago. Now, he sells prams. Pleased by the President’s meeting with entrepreneurs, he notes, “It’s good that such an event was organised, showing openness and readiness to solve the problem.”

Alina Basalay, who runs a knitting shop, underlined, “I’ve been following Internet commentary and most people feel confident, viewing the President’s meeting with us as a sign that he values our economic contribution. Even buyers’ attitudes are changing, with them asking how we are getting along. Amazingly, sales have increased!”

Mr. Lukashenko’s main wish is to act with to ‘subtlety and care’ to ‘avoid offence’, remembering that all those involved in retail have families to support. The current solution is keeping everyone happy, since entrepreneurs are avoiding major losses, while the state has proven its goodwill and desire to solve people’s problems.

Certain aspects continue to be of concern: after two years of endeavouring to sell ‘old’ stock without documentation, retailers appear to retain significant volumes of unsold goods. Either these items are ‘unsalable’ or new batches have been imported under the guise of old. The Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Entrepreneurs, Alexander Kalinin, believes that the latter may be likely. He tells us that his Union warned the Government that many entrepreneurs would be unable to sell ‘unlicensed’ goods within an 8-month period — especially as economic difficulties at the end of 2014 brought amendments to Pre-New Year sales. He views the President’s decision as being well-considered, taking into account business interests. However, he notes that ‘entrepreneurs should take responsibility for their business and realise that there will not be any further shifts in terms’.

By Alexander Maximov
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