The Belarusian authorities raised taxes, risking the loss of the HTP reputation
The updated Tax Code was launched in Belarus on January 1. The authorities canceled income tax incentives for IT specialists, introduced a transport tax and untied it from technical inspection, revised tax rates for renting apartments, cottages, garages, and parking spaces, and raised income tax for telecommunications and mobile operators. Local authorities were allowed to introduce a tax for traveling abroad by car.
Also, since January 1, authorities have raised the value-added tax rates on the import of certain goods - medicines, medical products, food, and children’s products.
The income tax for IT specialists, residents of the High Technologies Park, and the Great Stone Industrial Park has been increased from 9 to 13%. The authorities promise that the increased rates will be introduced for two years until January 1, 2023. According to experts, such changes will violate the principle that has been in effect with the HTP over the past 15 years, namely, the immutability of the legislation.
The state guaranteed to the international investment and technology community that the special legal regime of the HTP (including tax) is valid until January 1, 2049. Raising taxes may negatively affect the reputation that made HTP the leading IT cluster in Eastern Europe.
The single tax for individual entrepreneurs and some other categories of citizens also increased. In addition, the income tax for mobile operators increased from 18% to 30%.
As a result of the tax increase in 2021, the government plans to attract an additional 1 billion rubles ($386 million) to the Belarusian budget, Finance Minister Yuri Seliverstov said. These resources, according to him, will be used to finance health care, the costs of which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
7% of all deaths from COVID-19 in Belarus are doctors
Obstetrician-gynecologist, Doctor of Medical Sciences Svetlana Sorokina published on her Facebook page a list of doctors who died during the coronavirus epidemic in Belarus. There are 112 people on the list, from nurses to chief doctors. They worked in both public and private clinics. There are also ambulance drivers on the list.
Sorokina collected information about the deaths from the news in the media, information from relatives and colleagues of the deceased. Many of them had somatic diseases. But, according to information from relatives, it was COVID-19 that became the starting point that led to their death.
According to the Ministry of Health, 1,461 people have died in Belarus since the beginning of the epidemic (10 in the last day). That is, according to these data, doctors account for 7 percent of all deaths. A total of 201,831 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. The daily number is kept at the level of 1.8-1.9 thousand. The total number of those who recovered was 183,625.
The Prosecutor General’s Office proposes to toughen responsibility for extremism and violation of public order
The General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus has prepared a block of proposals concerning the strengthening of responsibility for extremism and violation of public order, General Prosecutor Andrei Shved said after a meeting with Alexander Lukashenko on January 4.
They propose to concretize the criteria by which certain actions will be qualified as extremist. They also plan to increase responsibility, including criminal responsibility, for manifestations of extremism and crimes related to extremism.
Shved also said that the prosecutor’s office was tasked with bringing to justice all participants in the riots, “so that not a single person who infringed on public order or raised a hand against law enforcement officers, did not escape strict responsibility.” This year, according to the Prosecutor General, the search for these persons will be intensified.
All these changes are obviously aimed at further lowering the protest activity. Protests began on August 9 after the presidential elections, were massively held up until winter, and are still continuing in a different format. Protesters gather to marches in smaller groups in their residential areas.
Three largest state banks of Belarus receive state support
By the presidential decree, the statutory fund of Belarusbank was increased, and the terms for repayment of subordinated loans to Belagroprombank and Belinvestbank were extended.
The document states that it was adopted “in order to ensure the financial stability of banks.” Belarusbank can use the funds contributed as a monetary contribution to its statutory fund to provide soft loans for housing construction. That is, in return for financial support, the country’s largest bank undertakes to continue financing housing construction.
The terms of repayment of subordinated loans to Belagroprombank and Belinvestbank were also extended. Belagroprombank received resources equivalent to $100 million in 2016 when the Asset Management Agency was created. The repayment period has now been extended to 12 years.
As for Belinvestbank, in 2017 it received a subordinated loan of 50 million euros for six years from an external state loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Now the loan repayment period has been increased to 11 years.