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Belarusian agrotourism, crafts and tax consultants: what to be changed after Alexander Lukashenko signs Decree 337

Just go 20 km from Minsk and you will find a unique place with cozy wood houses, alcoves and recreation zones. Sergei Mikhailov, the owner of this farmhouse, showed our camera crew around.

Sergei Mikhailov, owner of a farmhouse:
Guests like taking pictures and chill here very much.

We see a fairy’s house and even a picturesque tea-house with unusual interior and a designer’s chandelier. It’s all about agrostyle, like Sergei call it, and he puts much love into this word.

Sergei Mikhailov:
I like to accept my guests here. It’s very cozy and warm here.

He started this business six years ago answering the call of his heart. His whole family also wanted to leave city views and to go to the country. They did it. There were no problems with launching a farmhouse. It’s all about a declarative principle: after Sergei made a request to the district authorities, he paid the amount of a one base value. Questions occurred later. For example, what about hosting weddings and anniversaries? Is it allowed?

Sergei Mikhailov:
If there is a small amount of sleeping accommodation, then the revenue from ordinary staying here can’t give you huge income that allows you to develop the business.

Sergei is right. It was also noticed by specialists from relevant ministries and agencies. As a result of it a draft law on agrotourism with novelties appeared. It allows hosting celebrations. The main thing is to keep farmhouses without being registered as a self-employed entrepreneur.

Sergei Mikhailov:
Our farmhouses are in villages and woods far from metro stations. We won’t have so many clients as in the city.

The President clarified the situation about it last week. An ordinary house in a village can help to start a profitable business.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus:
It’s mostly family business. I visited such farmhouses and saw the way people chill here. It gives quite good revenue. If it’s okay for people to celebrate their birthday or a wedding here, then let them do it.

A few thousand farmhouses are registered in Belarus annually. Today we have 2,000. The amount of farmhouses in our country has increased 65 times since 2006, when there were only 34 places of this kind! It means that agrotourism attracts people and it’s a profitable business.

The Minsk region takes the leading place with the amount of 639 farmhouses, then go Vitebsk and Brest regions. 11 years ago, there were only seven places of this type.

Valeria Klitsunova, chairwoman of Belarusian Association of Agro- and Ecotourism “Country Escape”:
There dynamics was incredible!

Valeria Klitsunova, a candidate of agricultural sciences, has been following the development of Belarusian agrotourism for years. She says that revenue has been hardly growing in recent years but the novelties of the decree will attract people.  As many as 3,000 farmhouses is the result that we can achieve.

Valeria Klitsunova:
If people aren’t allowed to carry out public events, then they won’t be able to earn money and support the whole infrastructure.

There’re only a few steps towards liberalization of business. One more document will give a free hand to craftsmen – it will help to develop folk crafts and will involve unemployed population into economy.

Irina Rozhko has been creating a fantasy world of unique dolls with their own characters, stories and fate for 17 years already. Her works got to private collections in Russia and Germany and they are well-known to Belarusians thanks to the finished technique, individuality and expressiveness of the dolls.

Her hobby became her job many years ago. But she could sell her works only at fairs and in handmade stores. The law novelties will lift this ban and will allow advertising the work through the Internet.

Irina Rozhko:
I think it’s quite modern to advertise your work and to tell about yourself on the Internet. I think it gives more possibilities for craftsmen, because it lets a person earn money.

Last week, the President also signed Decree 337. The list of the activities that people can do without being registered as self-employed entrepreneurs (upon the condition that they pay a fixed tax) became wider. Cooks, furniture assemblers,  musical instruments tuners, fashion/shoes/interior designers, web developers, hairdressers and make-up artists have this privilege now. It’s mostly for people that works at home. It’s important that if there are less law demands, then it requires more responsibility.

Alexander Lukashenko:
If you make a miscount and some people even died, then I will put it crudely: “Go to prison.” There is no other way. Many people warn me like: “Be careful, don’t lose control over us.” I answer: “But you are businessmen! How can you say so?” As I’ve already said, if you don’t want to lose controllability in economy and literally to breed a chaos in the country, then there should be control.

Responsibility of chiefs will be raised according to the draft law on better control. An inspector can no longer make an order about stopping the work of a factory or its workshops. There is a suggestion to move from punishment to prophylactic work. The focus will be turned from toward random inspections.

Alexander Lukashenko:
You should have certain reasons for coming to the enterprise, to a businessman, to an individual or a legal body. If there are these reasons, then go. But if you came and these reasons didn’t find their place at the enterprise and weren’t confirmed, you should be responsible for it.

Tax consultants will be able to help entrepreneurs very soon. They will give simple explanation on laws and keep necessary records.

Business council with a prefix “new” will also be important. It also will be able to make direct proposals to the Council of Ministers.

Sergei Novitsky, Deputy Chairman of the Council for Enterprise Development in the Republic of Belarus:
Earlier the decisions of the Council were advisory. Now the decisions made by the Council will be obligatory.

All these documents will be finished by October 1, 2017.

Belarusian agrotourism, crafts and tax consultants: what to be changed after Alexander Lukashenko signs Decree 337