Belarusian SMEs to continue resistance until compromise is reached
On February 15th, private entrepreneurs and opposition leaders held a joint action in Minsk, which gathered scores of people and was the largest in the past year. The action took place on the October Square and was attended by about a thousand people. The organizers and participants expressed their intention to hold such actions every Monday, until the authorities agree to concessions. Meanwhile, the rally on February 22nd is unlikely to be as successful as one on February 15th. Firstly, because Minsk SMEs and SMEs in the regions are not equally interested in the outcome of negotiations with the government - regional SMEs would be more affected by the intransigence of the government. Secondly, because sharp political demands put forward by the opposition during the action are off-putting for SMEs. SMEs’ future protests are likely to shift to regional and district centres and are likely to continue until a compromise with the government is reached.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.