The results of negotiations with the government cannot fully meet the demands that entrepreneurs are making today.
The last two and a half months the Belarusian market has been undergoing the fever: individual entrepreneurs have tried to achieve safe working environment. To put it simply, they demanded to cancel the presidential decree No.222, which entered into force on January 1, 2016.
They didn’t manage to achieve the abolition of the decree, and the entrepreneurs themselves quietly go to work.
Are the individual entrepreneurs defeated or has the lingering protest given some results?
Anatoly Shumchanka, the leader of the RPA “Perspective”, comments upon the situation around individual entrepreneurs to the “EuroBelarus” Information Service.
- What stage is the preparation for the next Forum of Entrepreneurs at?
- We are coordinating the date with the regions and are looking for the venue for the next Forum of Entrepreneurs.
In general, we need not just to talk, but also decide what we will do next. However, our further actions lie on the surface, we should only discuss the degree of each other’s responsibility. The time to cry should disappear in the past; it's time to act and protect our business.
- What is the situation in the business environment? They say that having not achieved anything over months of protests, entrepreneurs are forced to return back to work.
- Starting the protest, we haven’t even thought how crucial will the entrepreneurial issue be for the government. Nobody could have imagined that.
Of course, the situation can be viewed from different perspectives: either a glass is half full or half empty.
What do you mean that haven’t achieved anything? Since last October we haven’t detected a single case of goods’ confiscation in accordance with the decree No.222 from individual entrepreneurs who pay single tax. Moreover, the "Perspective" together with the individual entrepreneurs Tatsiana Paliakova won the trial on Moscow invoices: the Supreme Court decided to stop the administrative case, cancel the fine, and return the goods.
- Does it mean that the fines and confiscations by Russian invoices don’t pose a threat to entrepreneurs any longer?
- The Supreme Court ruled that the Belarusian entrepreneurs, who buy goods from Russian companies registered in the register, should not be responsible for the Russians. Belarusian individual entrepreneurs are conscientious business entities and should not be responsible for Russian firms.
This is the “Perspective’s” victory; nobody knows hard it was to convince Tatsiana Paliakova to go till the end. Today, there are a lot of desperate entrepreneurs who don’t want to fight.
Can we call the entrepreneurs’ return to work a defeat? It’s ludicrous: people cannot sit at home all the time. Individual entrepreneurs returned to work, but we see no epidemic check-outs and confiscations that have been taking place en masse last year.
Of course, we would like to see numerous individual entrepreneurs going out to protests. Judging by experience, people start thinking when they are pushed to the wall. If the government doesn’t put pressure, people calm down a bit, although internally they are tense and very nervous. The future looks hopeless, although the ruling of the Supreme Court decision gives hope that the unfounded inspection and seizure will stop. In the near future we will publish the court's ruling with the conclusions of lawyers.
- How do you assess the progress of negotiations with the government?
- It is positive.
The working group was created during the public debate at the Forum of Entrepreneurs on February 1 with the Director of Entrepreneurship Department of the Ministry of Economy Piotr Arushaniants. Later, when the "Perspective" has submitted a request for the demonstration, the Minister of Economy called me to complain that we are organizing a demonstration while negotiations are going on.
We demanded negotiations and we got them. Naturally, the results of the negotiations cannot fully meet the demands that entrepreneurs are asking for today. Since the start I had no illusions that the negotiations will give a global result. But it was important to show people how the authorities behave in the negotiating platform. Now we are sure that without the active pressure negotiations will fail.
One should fight for one’s rights integrating pressure from below, proactive entrepreneurs, active work of the "Perspective", and negotiations.
- What are the next steps entrepreneurs will make to protect their business?
- First of all, we will organize a forum. Naturally, street actions are of great importance in the fight for our rights, for solving our problems. But practice has shown that more entrepreneurs came to forums than to protests. The Forum has established itself as a safe place for expressing opinions; they are surely needed, and they will be taking place.
Another thing that we need to change the image of the forums. If earlier forums were about crying, now we need to refocus on making concrete decisions: how to proceed further, how to fight in a given situation, how to consolidate individual entrepreneurs.
The second direction is the negotiation platform in the form of a working group under the Ministry of Economy, which we will use to the fullest.
Thirdly, local entrepreneurs should consolidate, create structures and organizations. If mass inspection or confiscation happens tomorrow, people should be ready to actively defend their rights and interests.
There is only one solution to the problem - solidarity, creation of strong local organizations, coordination of actions, so that at any moment we could respond to the repressive steps of those who pose a threat to national business.