State demands fair tax contributions from all
Government cannot ignore need for efficient labour employment
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, recently met with his Government to discuss a decree aiming to stimulate citizens’ employment. He noted that, last October, he had instructed the Government and the Presidential Administration to find practical measures to help those without employment gain work (and to deprive ‘idlers’ of benefits and allowances).
Many young people work at Alesya JSC in MinskA number of measures have already been taken, such as raising the required minimal work record and social pension age where qualifying working years are absent. Labour pensions now reflect contributions to a greater extent. “However, even if these measures raise workforce numbers, it will take time. We need to solve the problems of efficient labour employment without delay,” noted Mr. Lukashenko.
The President states that the draft decree primarily targets those who don’t pay taxes into the budget. “They may work somewhere, but not for the state. Tax evaders are our target,” he explains, emphasising the need to analyse whether the draft decree will be efficient enough to prevent a ‘welfare mentality’. He wishes to know also how measures to prevent ‘parasitism’ and other social ills will be implemented in practice.
It’s necessary to view the problem from the point of view of social justice, since all working citizens pay taxes: either through their employers (who deduct a corresponding payment from their salaries) or independently (like individual entrepreneurs). Contributions to the budget are used to finance healthcare, education, housing and utilities infrastructure, as well as public transport and other important aspects of society. Various services are subsidised by the authorities, using budgetary funds: free medicines and education, and charges made for public transport. Those who avoid their obligations fail to pay their way.
Even those who fail to make contributions to the common purse have access to the whole range of services, as guaranteed by the state. However, such people are living at the expense of others, which is a selfish attitude. Article 56 of the Constitution obliges all citizens ‘to take part in the financing of state expenditure by paying state taxes, duties and other payments’. The Article primarily refers to the creation of stimuli to involve non-employed citizens in labour activity.
The question is difficult, since it’s impossible to force someone to work if their own conscience remains ‘unpricked’. Amendments to the law propose that those who fail to make tax contributions for six months will be obliged to explain why and, if good reason is lacking, they will receive either a fine or 15 days arrest, while still being ‘liable’ for their contribution.
The draft decree still requires improvement, for which the President has allowed one month. It must be ready to tackle the existing situation effectively. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Parasite-idlers should work and those who don’t pay tax should do so. This is a norm of civilised society,” asserts Mr. Lukashenko.
By Vasily Kharitonov
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