Belarusian authorities continue attempts to control shadow economy
Last week, the government brought out two new tax initiatives aiming to raise additional budget income. In particular, Chairman of the Council of the Republic Mikhail Myasnikovich suggested taxing online purchases by Belarusian citizens in foreign online shops. In addition, the Tax Ministry has prepared a draft decree aiming to prevent tax evasion, which envisages that citizens who report illegal payment by the employer to be exempt from liability. Both initiatives, along with the new regulation on social parasites and other tax novelties, imply that the authorities are increasingly concerned about losing control over the economy and expansion of the shadow economy. Meanwhile, additional restrictions only prompt businesses to hide their activities.
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.