Draft changes to "parasite" tax decree submitted to Lukashenka

Draft changes to presidential Decree No. 3, which imposed a so-called parasite tax on non-working people, have been submitted to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Uladzislaw Sychevich, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, told BelaPAN.

The new decree is expected to be titled "On Assisting Employment," he said.

Decree No. 3, titled "On Preventing Social Parasitism," was issued in April 2015 for the declared purpose of "prompting able-bodied people to work and ensuring that they carry out their constitutional duty of participating in financing public expenses."

Under the decree, people who officially worked for less than 183 calendar days in the year of assessment must pay an annual tax equal to 20 times the Base Rate, or some $240 at present.

People may be fined two to four times the Base Rate or sentenced to days in jail for failure to pay the tax.

In an apparent response to a wave of mass street protests against the highly unpopular tax that took place across Belarus, Mr. Lukashenka said this past March that the tax would not be collected for the year 2015 and his decree should be fine-tuned, if necessary.

Some 470,000 people were required to pay the tax for the year 2015 but only slightly more than 54,000 actually paid it before the February 20 deadline. As much as 16.3 million rubels was raised through the tax.

This past summer, tax offices started making refunds to those who had paid the tax.

Speaking last month, Mr. Lukashenka warned that the "parasite" tax decree would not be abolished.

Speaking to a group of newly appointed local government officials on September 14, Mr. Lukashenka said that it was the task of local authorities "to determine on the ground who does not work but should and to make all of them work."

"Someone needs to be helped, someone needs to be taken by the hand and led to work, someone needs to be retrained for a new occupation and someone needs to be simply bent over," Mr. Lukashenka said.