Wise practical advice

Belarusian entrepreneurs have lacked a professional holiday, at least at state level, so are now choosing June 15th
Belarusian entrepreneurs have lacked a professional holiday, at least at state level, so are now choosing June 15th: this being the day, in 1988, when the first co-operative — Tsentr (Centre) — was registered

Private enterprises account for 70 percent of the production sector in the Buda-Koshelevo District

As representatives of business unions assert, the date is marked rather than celebrated. The Day of Entrepreneurial Revival aims to promote knowledge of the issues faced by small and medium-sized businesses, and the regulations governing them. Journalists recently chatted with business association heads from all over the country, to find out more.

At present, changes and supplements are being introduced to Presidential Directive #4 — ‘On Additional Measures to Develop Entrepreneurial Initiative and Promote Business Activity’. The document was adopted in 2010 and, since then, has lost some of its topicality. Accordingly, its text needs correction, with new proposals introduced. Belarus’ membership of the Eurasian Economic Union also needs to be addressed by the text.

Businessmen are now advising the Government on how best to update the document. In early spring 2015, 61 public organisations presented the National Business Platform of Belarus-2015, uniting all reasonable proposals on the reform of legislation governing small and medium-sized entrepreneurship.

The Presidium Chairman of the Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship, Vladimir Karyagin, underlines, “Since our Platform’s first existence, in 2006, Belarus has moved from 120th place to 57th in the World Bank’s Doing Business Rating. This indicates that we’ve been taking the correct path. We believe that the country’s lack of independent energy resources needs to be addressed, alongside the need to attract investors via a favourable business climate. Accordingly, we need to further improve our tax legislation, fighting against red tape and simplifying business conditions.”

As Mr. Karyagin explains, businessmen are mostly pleased with the results of the previous directive (#4). Over the past five years, over 190 normative acts have been adopted, enabling entrepreneurs to overcome the most topical problems. Among the most significant reforms has been the reduction of activities requiring a licence. In addition, individual entrepreneurs are now allowed to employ up to three workers beyond their close relatives. These two measures alone have led to growth in business initiative. Every year, small and medium-sized businesses grow in number by 1-1.5 percent. In 2010, they accounted for around 18 percent of GDP and the figure is now closer to 25 percent.

Mr. Karyagin is convinced that acute issues remain regarding state-business interaction. For example, businesses wish to ease the process of state property privatisation, allowing inefficiently run state companies to be overseen by private firms. Businesses also wish to be able to secure rental of state property for a period of over three years. According to business unions, around 95 percent of firms currently operate in rented premises: an obstacle to attracting investment or bank loans. They are also vulnerable to fluctuations in rental fees.

By Alexander Benkovsky

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