Commentary to Ordinance No. 7 of 23 November 2017

    On 23 November Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko signed the Ordinance No. 7 on entrepreneurship development, which is the key document in the package of regulations designed to improve the country’s business climate.

    The Ordinance provides for radically changing the way government agencies interact with private companies. It will minimize the interference of government officials with the operation of commercial entities. It will give more leeway to private companies in how they manage their affairs while cranking up the responsibility of private companies before the public. The minimal level of state oversight remains in place.

    To reach these goals, the Ordinance will allow starting up a private business by notifying the authorities about the intended lines of business. The list includes consumer services, tourism, social services, trade and public catering, transportation of passengers and luggage, merchandise production, production of construction materials, and some other popular types of business. Thus, the document is supposed to cover the spheres where about 95% of Belarusian small and medium private companies are concentrated.

    In order to start such a business, a private entrepreneur will have to notify the local executive body using the one-stop principle. The notification can be sent by registered mail or via the digital services web portal. The entrepreneur will be authorized to pursue the chosen activity starting the next day.

    The Ordinance also specifies general requirements for fire safety, sanitary and epidemiological requirements, environmental protection requirements, veterinary requirements for placing, equipping, erecting, maintaining, and operating capital structures and isolated premises. These requirements have been systematized and abridged as much as possible. They will be mandatory for all commercial entities.

    Other technical regulations for this sphere will be recommendatory until they are annulled.

    The Ordinance reworks the administrative barriers based on complicated and lengthy bureaucratic procedures, a large number of certificates, approvals, and permit documents.

    Retail and public catering companies will no longer have to get municipal government agencies to approve the working hours of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Outlets, which are open at night (from 23:00 to 7:00), are an exception. Transport manifests for transporting passengers and luggage as irregular service will no longer be required.

    Excessive and costly requirements and restrictions for businesses specializing in manufacturing, civil engineering, transportation, retail, and some other spheres have been scrapped.

    Meanwhile, the Ordinance introduces the administrative responsibility of the company head for the smooth operation of the enterprise. In particular, if the executive fails to take measures to prevent harmful consequences, he or she will pay a fine of 10-200 base amounts, provided the failure is not classified as a crime or an administrative offense.

    This measure is supposed to increase the responsibility of private companies before the society and the state while the business requirements are relaxed.

    The Ordinance is designed to give an impulse to the advancement of entrepreneurship initiative, encourage business activity of citizens, and improve the country’s overall business climate.