The budget for 2017 and the tax code were approved on October 6 at the final session of the 5th convocation of the Council of the Republic, which is the upper chamber of the Belarus parliament. The main financial document was adopted taking into account social orientation and considers the credit obligations of Belarus. The thickness of the national purse remains the same as in 2016, while the tax burden on the economy will fall, with spending on education and health care set to grow.
Increase in salaries and pensions is expected too.
Vladimir Pantyukhov, chairman of the Standing Commission of the Council of the Republic for Economy, Budget and Finance:
The budget of "three R's" - real (re)distribution of resources. But this is not a word play; this is a balanced, realistic budget, with surplus. Moreover, it is transparent and of course socially oriented.
Belarusians will allocate BYN1.5 billion for future payments on loans. Over BYN5 billion will be spent on debt repayment. Half will be taken from tax duties for oil products and the issue of securities, while the rest will be refinanced.
The priority is social sphere. Education and health will require more than 4% of GDP each.
The state will continue to grant people support for housing construction with the use of soft loans as well as to guarantee the so-called "mother capital". The amount of money spent on social policy will be up 15% as compared with 2016.
It is expected that 76.1% of the BYN12.7 billon of expenditures will be allocated for pension payments.
The tax burden on the economy will be just over 23.5% - this is even less than in 2016.
The main sources of budget revenues will remain the same - value-added tax and profits. The tax code has undergone some changes. Minor benefits will be abolished or optimized. The most notable changes in the taxation are those relating to products of virtual reality.
Vladimir Amarin, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Belarus:
This measure will have no negative impact on the attractiveness of the Belarusian IT market. This is an international practice. In this case, VAT will be charged at the buyer's country, that is, in Belarus.
The MPs also ratified the agreement on visa-free entry of Brazilians to Belarus. Losses from the loss of consular fees are estimated at $30,000. However, the expected revenues from overseas tourists exceed this value. In addition, it will contribute to business contacts.
Now, Belarusians can get into an Administrative Region of China - Macau - without a visa too.
Senators also voted for the ratification of a military-technical cooperation agreement with the Kingdom of Thailand. Military representatives of that state are frequent guests at the enterprises of the Belarusian defense industry.
The corresponding agreement will allow Belarus to work more actively in the Thai market; it does not require the corresponding budget allocations and will increase the export of Belarusian products to that country.
Chairman of the upper house Mikhail Myasnikovich summed up the work.
Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Council of the Republic of Belarus Parliament:
Our activities have become more visible in society, more diverse. Improvements of legislation contributed to the democratization of public relations. For feedback on the effectiveness of our laws we have started monitoring their application.
In total, the Council of the Republic on 6 October approved 26 bills, in only four hours.