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November 13th, 2007. Posted in News from Belarus

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Entrepreneurs don’t want be unitary private enterprises

10 November was the deadline for the entrepreneurs who wanted to re-register as juridical persons on privileged conditions. The Ministry of Economy of Belarus informed that more than 9.000 people have sent documents for re-registration as unitary private enterprises. However, there are more than 200.000 of individual entrepreneurs. So, less than 5 per cent of them have yielded to the organized by the authorities mass propaganda campaign on re-registration from individual entrepreneurs into unitary private enterprises.

Entrepreneurs explain their unwillingness to re-register into unitary private enterprises with not only high taxes, but also serious penal sanctions, applied to unitary enterprises.

As Valer Levaneuski, leader of the entrepreneurs’ movement, said to Charter’97 press center, only “those who have no other ways: transporters, dentists and others of that ilk, or fraudsters”, have re-registered into unitary enterprises. “An honest entrepreneur has nothing to do in such a company, he or she will go smash after first checkup”. Levaneuski called it Prodrazvyorstka in Belarusian way. (Prodrazvyorstka was a governmental program during the Russian Civil War, which obliged peasantry to surrender the surpluses of almost any kind of agricultural produce for a fixed price).

So that’s why the entrepreneurs who deal with individual and retail sales chose to re-issue a part of their business to their subordinates or relatives. In Levaneuski’s opinion, it is dangerous, but “of two evils they chose the lesser”.

The case is that tax burden of unitary enterprises considerably exceeds that of individual entrepreneurs. So, from the per cents who have re-registered into unitary enterprises, at least half of them will go bust next year or will have to search for another from of ownership.

According to Levaneuski, the biggest danger is that a juridical person must be registered according to the place of residence, when re-registering into unitary enterprise. “The majority of the entrepreneurs will hardly find a proper office, so they will register according to a place of residence. Then a precedent can be created, when tax service, police and other controlling bodies can visit your apartment and, without agreements with other family members, make a checkup or even more- confiscation. Very unpleasant scene, I must say”, Levaneuski thinks.

In his view, the authorities haven’t left other choice for entrepreneurs except for unite in protest and work illegally.

Aliaksandr Makaeu, head of the public association Coordinate Council of the Entrepreneurs of Belarus agrees with the position of Valer Levaneuski. “The authorities are speaking with us by means of ultimatum language, so we have only to come out to Kastrychnitskaya Square and deliver an ultimatum to the authorities”, Aliaksandr Makaeu declared in the interview to Charter’97 press center.

According to Makaeu, many entrepreneurs begin to understand that the authorities aren’t joking and not going to make confessions. “People have understood now, that we need solidarity to gain our purposes and defend our rights. We should unite and come out with protest, only then we’ll manage to achieve something”, Aleksandr Makaeu said.

“The authorities don’t simply deprive people of work and usual mode of life, they deprive people of their bread, because the majority of entrepreneurs are not in demand on the labour market because of age or health state, but they can earn their living with retail trade. The young people who can work at plant, won’t go there. Because they are used to be independent and free enough. That’s why the authorities want to destroy us as a rather independent category of the society”, Aleksandr Makaeu thinks.

In this connection Aliaksandr Makaeu said he was sure the scheduled for 10 December protest action will take place on Kastrychnitskaya Square in any course of events: “Naturally, the authorities will press on us. Especially on the activists, but we are ready for it. The small-scale entrepreneurs have nothing to lose anymore. The majority has understood it”.

Charter’97

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Note: Translated by means of machine translation. The original text in Russian is on a site www.levonevsky.org or www.levonevski.net
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