In addition to special regulation on the High-Tech Park, 2017 was marked by a general improvement in the country’s business climate. Thus, the Presidential Decree of 23 November 2017 No. 7 On Development of Entrepreneurship, entering into effect from 26 February 2018, will significantly reduce the administrative burden on business, especially in the following ways:
- Establishing the nineteen most common types of business, including general retail and wholesale trading, catering, hotel and consumer services, that can be commenced by notification, not via registration;
- Reasonably reducing mandatory requirements for fire safety, sanitary and epidemiological standards, as well as in the field of environmental protection and veterinary medicine for maintenance and operation of capital structures, premises and other facilities;
- Limiting the number of mandatory technical requirements and standards applicable to production of goods and business processes. According to the Decree, these regulations will set only basic requirements, while more detailed of technical rules will be optional;
- Simplifying regulation in the areas of retail trade, catering, consumer services, organisation of exhibitions and fairs, construction, transport, and advertising;
- Abolishing mandatory use of corporate seals;
- Establishing a moratorium on tax increases until 1 January 2020;
- Increasing management responsibility for company business activities;
- Limiting the grounds for subjecting company management and shareholders to subsidiary liability in the case of economic insolvency (bankruptcy). Applied more frequently in the past, now it becomes possible only in the case of wilful misconduct by management or shareholders resulting in insolvency.
The main sense of the changes is partial removal of control from state authorities over safe business operations and imposing greater responsibility on business owners and managers. The changes are not revolutionary but may reflect an important shift in the Belarusian government’s attitude towards private business. To see how successful and quick this shift will be, we will follow the practice of enforcing the new law by the controlling authorities and the courts.