Belarus plans to reduce VAT rate by abolishing VAT benefits by 2020
Within three years, the Tax Ministry plans to find reserves to reduce the VAT rate. VAT is responsible for up to 30% budget revenues. In 2016, VAT accounted for BYN 8.2 billion in budget revenues. Belarus is expected to reduce VAT to 18%, like in Russia; this process could be postponed to 2020. In the case of VAT reduction, budget revenues are unlikely to drop due to the cancellation of VAT benefits for various enterprises and activities. Abolished benefits for loss-making enterprises could be offset by additional state subsidies or other types of budgetary support. The process of reducing VAT could be suspended or cancelled in the case of changes in tax laws or tax devaluation in Russia, which could reduce the payroll tax and increase VAT in order to stimulate exports.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.