By Denis Kryat
The National Assembly’s House of Representatives has begun to ratify a whole range of documents relating to the Customs Union. One deals with the operation of free economic zones, causing much discussion. Economy Minister Nikolai Snopkov notes that a compromise has been achieved which should improve the work of Belarusian free economic zones.
Residents registered by 2012 will retain their customs privileges until 2017. After this, the system will be replaced in favour of a revised tax regime, with legislation governing free economic zones updated and some functions overseen by the Customs Committee. The latter shall, for example, decide whether goods are produced by the Customs Union. Residents’ efforts will be made more efficient, while orienting them towards exports and competitiveness. The Economy Ministry is now preparing corresponding changes to the law.
The Chairman of the State Customs Committee, Alexander Shpilevsky, attended the session at the Oval Hall. The deputies questioned him on why there are still such long queues at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border and he replied that demand for imported passenger cars is to blame. “In the first three months of the year, more cars were imported into the country than during all of 2010. We’ve employed more staff and are working closely with our Lithuanian colleagues but, of course, our infrastructure was unprepared,” he explains, adding that the situation is likely to end after July 1st, when duties on imported cars rise.
The draft law ‘On Applications of Citizens and Legal Entities’ has also received much consideration. On the one hand, it generalises previously adopted laws but, on the other, it proposes some new ideas. Citizens will, in future, be held accountable for unjustified complaints. Meanwhile, all electronic applications will receive a reply in the language in which they are written. At its second reading, obligations will be decided.
The Council of the Republic devoted its first working day to personnel matters, with the Editor-in-Chief of SB newspaper, Pavel Yakubovich, admitted as a member of the Council of the Republic. He will now be part of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and National Security.
The parliamentarians’ work focuses largely on improving the foreign trade balance, explains the Chairman of the Council of the Republic, Anatoly Rubinov. Legislation to aid sales of services and goods is required, while international co-operation is vital. Mr. Rubinov notes, “We’re interested in developing good relations with other states and wish our bilateral contacts to be based on international law, via mutually beneficial dialogue. Belarus is interested in activating relations with the Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE.” He is convinced that all current problems regarding international mutual relations are temporary. “As soon as the current wave of anti-Belarusian feeling ends, we’ll strive to renew good relations, including within the Eastern Partnership initiative,” he adds.