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17 Dec 2019

Belarus’ business climate assessed by international financial organizations

Belarus’ business climate assessed by international financial organizations
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MINSK, 17 December (BelTA) - The findings of the BEEPS Belarus 2018 and the Business Environment 2019 study were presented in Minsk on 17 December, BelTA has learned.

The Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS) is an extensive economic survey undertaken as a joint initiative of the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Business Environment 2019 is a project of the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The surveys were carried out to analyze the opinion of business on the most significant changes in the business regulatory environment in Belarus, and to assess the results of the reforms to improve business and business investment climate.

The BEEPS looks at the development of the business environment in dynamics. The 2018 figures are compared with 2008 and 2013. An important feature of the BEEPS is a scientifically sound approach. The survey reflects the dynamics of the investment climate development in Belarus. The figures are compared with other countries. The positive results of this study will be useful for the advancement of Belarus on the world stage, while the negative findings will show ways toward improvement, said Alex Kremer, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus.

One of the significant aspects that the study addressed was the transformation of enterprises. According to Alex Kremer, more and more Belarusian firms are increasing spending on research and development. This figure is also higher than the average for comparable countries in Europe and Central Asia. A large percentage of Belarusian companies has introduced food/technological innovations. The implementation of internationally recognized quality certification or internationally licensed technologies has been picking up pace.

Alex Kremer also highlighted the successes of Belarus in the fight against corruption in the business environment and stressed that the rule of law is a favorable factor for business.

Compared with previous years, there have been some improvements in terms of access to finance. More companies have received a bank loan or a credit line. Almost everyone has a current or savings account. The share of credit sales has increased slightly. However, companies are growing increasingly dependent on own funds in terms of investment or replenishment of working capital. The growth rate of private companies has slowed down.

Olga Shcherbina, Head of the International Finance Corporation Office in Belarus, presented the 2019 Business Environment findings. The study was conducted in accordance with the IFC's advisory program to improve the business environment and promote competition in Belarus for 2019-2022. A total of 702 commercial organizations (micro-, small-, medium-sized enterprises, and individual entrepreneurs) representing various sectors of the economy were surveyed in all regions of Belarus in April-June 2019. The results of Ordinance No. 7 on entrepreneurship development and the administrative procedures were analyzed.

Particular attention was paid to access to finance. "A pilot project has been launched by the Belarusian Fund for Financial Support of Entrepreneurs. As of mid-October about 15 guarantees for SME loans have already been issued. This tool works, and it should be further developed,” Olga Shcherbina noted. “In addition, the Development Bank is seriously considering a venture fund. We welcome this. We understand that the work is likely to take at least a year, but the main thing is that it is being done,” she added. The study recommends launching or improving new market financial institutions (microfinance organizations, investment funds).

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