Perspektyva small business association set to go ahead with December 15 march

The authorities have failed to find an inner strength to sign a regulation that would allow entrepreneurs to operate as previously...

The Perspektyva small business association issued a statement on Saturday to announce that it is still determined to go ahead with its march, to be staged in Minsk on December 15.

"The authorities have failed to find an inner strength to sign a regulation that would allow entrepreneurs to operate as previously," the statement reads.

Earlier this week, Deputy Economy Minister Andrey Tur said that the government might postpone by one year an increase in taxes for sole entrepreneurs who import goods from Russia. He said that the ministry had drafted a presidential edict regarding the matter.

Perspektyva has repeatedly warned that the higher taxes would ruin many small businesses. It wants to march on December 15 from the building of the national academy of sciences to Bangalore Square to hold a rally there in protest.

The association questioned Mr. Tur's statement, which came amid a one-day walkout staged by market vendors across Belarus.

"We see statements by some government officials about our problems as an attempt to lessen the intensity of the struggle ahead of the march," Perspektyva said. "We think that immediate actions in the interests of the state and its economic security are needed today, not statements about some proposals or draft edicts."

"Our purpose is to bring our disastrous situation home to the government and citizens and demand the perseverance of the current work conditions for sole entrepreneurs," it said. "After New Year, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs will lose jobs or find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy."

Perspektyva said that vendors had taken very seriously Mr. Tur' statement, warning the government against crashing their hopes.

It stressed that the march would focus exclusively on economic demands and urged "young opposition activists and experienced politicians willing to help entrepreneurs and their families preserve jobs and a decent level of life" to refrain from any violations of the public peace.

A presidential edict issued by Alyaksandr Lukashenka in June 2005 exempted sole entrepreneurs from producing papers regarding the origin of imports from Russia and entitled them to pay a fixed amount in valued-added tax on the shipments until January 1, 2009, as the two countries agreed to switch over to the country-of-destination principle in the collection of VAT in bilateral trade.

Starting from January 2009, the edict says, entrepreneurs must pay a full amount of VAT and an import duty.