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MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. Russian businesses are basically enthusiastic over the initiatives President Vladimir Putin announced in his annual message to the Federal Assembly on December 4 with the aim to make life easier for private enterprise. However, in this chorus of approval one cannot but hear some important "ifs" and "buts". Small wonder, though. In the past, the authorities and businesses failed to understand each other too often.
High on the list of the presidential initiatives are an end to redundantly scrupulous, endless inspections of businesses, a three-year suspension of all checks for small businesses with an impeccable record of operation during the previous three years, a two-year tax break for newly-established businesses, a four-year freeze on changes to taxation rules, and an amnesty for the repatriation of offshore capital. It is the predictability of tax and other fiscal policies that the business community has demanded from the authorities for years.
The State Duma on Wednesday will hold the first reading of a government bill establishing a unified register of inspections. “As of next year there is to be a special register containing information as to which body of authority has initiated this or that inspection and for what purpose, and what results have been achieved. “This will put an end to inspectors’ unmotivated visits, let alone, orchestrated ones,” Putin said.
According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, the United Russia party is prepared to submit to the State Duma a list of amendments facilitating private enterprise. Among other things the ruling party suggests dropping the clause that strips businessmen of the right to acquire a license and to operate under license for failure to meet the previous license’s fee payment deadline.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office plans to stop checking businesses on the basis of anonymous complaints and to make such messages punishable by law.“All of the president’s proposals for easing the business environment have long been ripe and discussed many a time,” the chief of the management chair at the Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration, Ilya Bykovnikov, told TASS. Real results will be achieved only if everything is implemented in due course. Then the business climate will get better and investment attractiveness will grow.”
It will be very bad, the analyst warns, if implementation is fragmentary, erratic and procrastinated. There must be a clear distinction between the public and private levels of investment. Foreign investors are to be sure they enjoy the protection of their property from the government and from private project participants,” he said.
“True, one should not expect instant changes for the better will follow,” the daily Novyie Izvestia quotes the science doyen of the Higher School of Economics, Yevgeny Yasin, as saying. “But the moratorium on tax rises and the full amnesty of offshore capital are all steps in the right direction.”
“Now a great deal will depend on the interpretation of the presidential idea of freezing taxation rules,” the president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Aleksandr Shokhin, told the media. “Now we can see that many decisions are still being made on the go,” he said, adding that January would see a considerable surge in the tax on dividends, from 9% to 13 %. The water tax would be indexed considerably.
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