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Belarusian unions call for abolishment of decree on “social parasitism”

22 December, 2016In a reply to the Belarusian President’s statement about correcting shortcomings in the decree "On prevention of social dependency”, IndustriALL affiliates say that the decree should be abolished instead of improved. 

Early December, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko agreed to introduce certain amendments to a controversial decree on "social parasitism".

The current version of the decree reads that, "The citizens of the Republic of Belarus, foreign citizens and stateless persons who have received a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Belarus, in the case of their non-participation in the financing of public expenditures or participation in such financing less than 183 days of the fiscal period are recognized as payers of the tax for financing of public expenditures".

The initial idea was to ensure workers in the black economy paid taxes. Independent trade unions in Belarus believe that with 400,000 people unemployed and employment centres offering 20,000 vacancies, the decree will mean that many workers will have to pay for the fact that they cannot find a job.

Changes will be adopted before the end of the year. Local authorities will be able to make a decision about tax exemption for citizens who are in a difficult life situation, upon providing supporting documents to the tax office.

Gennady Fedynich, chairman of IndustriALL affiliate Belarusian Radio and Electronic Industry Workers' Union (REPAM), says:

“Local authorities don’t care about employees. If a public commission were created, which included representatives of independent trade unions and other stakeholders, then we would believe that decisions on tax exemption would be fair".

Other amendments will include expansion of the categories exempt from the tax, for instance sportsmen of the Belarus national team and other categories of citizens not receiving any income. The tax potentially can be paid later and its amount can be decreased, also people who have not yet paid the tax, will not be subject to punishment for the moment.

Alexander Buhvostov, chairman of Free Metalworkers' Union states:

“The decree should be abolished, not improved. It is in contradiction with ILO conventions and contains elements of forced labour. In a country where the economy is in crisis; enterprises cut production, work schedules are reduced or stopped, the unemployment rate is growing, people can't find work in small towns, this decree looks like a mockery.”

According to the Ministry of taxes, so far only 10,800 people paid their tax on “parasitism”, instead of 400,000 initially forecasted. In light of this REPAM sent the question about the decree’s effectiveness to all 123 tax inspection offices of Belarus. There were 65 answers received, which referred to a state secret.

Unions will continue their campaign for abolishment of the decree.

More on topic:

Belarusian unions oppose law calling unemployed "social parasites"