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15 Sep 2017

Lukashenko approves decree on developing trade in small towns, rural areas

MINSK, 15 September (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko approved the approaches envisaged in the draft decree “On development of trade, public catering and consumer services”, Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade Minister Vladimir Koltovich told journalists after the report to the head of state on 15 September, BelTA has learned.

“The head of state approved the approaches envisaged in the draft decree. It was remarked that our ministry will be responsible for the organization of work concerning the implementation of the decree. Indeed, our task is to popularize the ideas of this decree, work with trade networks and self-employed businessmen. We will organize this work in regions in the near future,” Vladimir Koltovich said.

The minister explained that the decree “On development of trade, public catering and consumer services” aims to create a special preferential regime in small populated areas to ensure a decent quality, cost and range of services. “In this context, tax preferences may be introduced. For example, economic operators will be exempt from the value added tax, there will be no real estate and land lease taxes in towns and villages with the population of up to 2,000. There will be reduced rates of the single tax for self-employed businessmen – one basic amount per month, the income tax for legal entities will make up 6%,” the minister said.

Apart from that, economic operators will be entitled to buy real estate without an auction at a market price for retail trade and consumer services.

Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade Minister Vladimir KoltovichAccording to Vladimir Koltovich, the sale of alcoholic beverages was in the spotlight during the discussion of the draft decree with the business community. “We decided to permit the sale of alcoholic beverages in mobile shops regardless of the fact if a legal entity has a fixed network or not. However, it will be essential to coordinate the routes of mobile shops and the range of goods they offer. It is inadmissible to sell only alcoholic beverages there,” he stressed.

Special attention was drawn to the development of retail networks in small towns and rural areas. “The draft decree encourages legal entities accounting for more than 20% of the retail trade turnover within a certain district capital to rent additional facilities with the area of up to 2,000 square meters in populated areas. In our opinion, it is a serious stimulus for developing trade networks,” the minister believes.

The minister stressed that preferences will be provided to new market participants and legal entities that are already represented in small towns and rural areas. The decree will be operational for five years, from 1 January 2018 till 31 December 2022. “If everything is okay, if the decree is a success and there are positive results, we will mull over a possibility to prolong this document. But it is now too early to talk about it because huge work is ahead of us,” he added.

Vladimir Koltovich said that the main principle in the preparation of the draft decree was as follows: even the best causes in business liberalization should not result in the loss of control and manageability in the economy. “This decree provides for a mechanism fulfilling the following task: competition should be everywhere, state regulation should be applied where it is required,” the minister said.

“The state should create conditions, let us speak, popularize this decree, explain the mechanism of its work and help launch a business. In fact, this decree is a kind of ideology. I am convinced that self-employment should have a multiplicative effect in small populated areas where it is possible to create new jobs. In other words, we tried to work out a simple and understandable mechanism and to encourage people to work for themselves, their families, their country,” Vladimir Koltovich concluded.

It is expected that the decree will be signed with one more package of documents before 1 October.

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