Irina Yaskevich, Chairwoman of the Trade Union of Entrepreneurs "Together", an affiliate of the StreetNet International from Belarus, shared how entrepreneurs from Belarus are struggling for their rights to keep their jobs demanding the cancellation of the Decree № 222 "On regulation of entrepreneurship activity and the sale of goods by individual entrepreneurs and other physical entities".
Since January 1, 2016 according to the Decree number 222, signed by the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, entrepreneurs are allowed to trade by goods of light industry, imported from abroad, only in the presence of the documents confirming the quality and origin of the goods.
According to the entrepreneurs, this Decree will paralyze their activities. People who sit “in high offices”, are rather far away from the work of small entrepreneurs. They do not imagine that this Decree can’t be fulfilled.
Most entrepreneurs working on flea markets and shopping centers of Vitebsk city, suspended their activities starting from January 1, 2016.
Despite some delays and eighteen-month transition period, many of them still claim that they cannot provide legal documents on the origin of the goods of light industry and the certificates of conformity with technical regulations of the Customs Union (EAC).
On the trading outlets almost everywhere the signs are - "Due to the inability to carry out activities under the Decree №222 from January 1, 2016, is to inform about the suspension of the activity for an uncertain period." In this case there is practically no information to buyers, when this "uncertainty finishes."
"We have approved a collective appeal to the President of the country and on 13 January a small delegation went to the Ministry of Finance, where we met with the Minister", - explained Irina Yaskevich. – “Our requests were:
The income of legal entities and small entrepreneurs cannot be compared.
Irina still hopes that the state authority will find a compromise with small entrepreneurs.
It should be added that on January 11, 2016 a so-called anti-crisis forum took place in Minsk city, attended by about 1, 5 thousand of Individual Entrepreneurs (IE) from all over the country. Its participants have agreed not to go to work as long as the authorities do not submit its decision to a small business issues and appointed a next meeting for January 25.
“Only together we can oppose the impossible demands”, - emphasized the chairwoman of the trade union of entrepreneurs "Together" Irina Yaskevich:
"If there are no required documents, then why should we go to work and take risks? By the way, we are supported by even the part of those entrepreneurs, who found some required documents - they have also signed our letter, announcing to stop working. I understand that in every market there are 10-15 per cent of the entrepreneurs who still come to work. But we have to understand one thing: from very recent time we learned how to defend what we need only when we are together! ", - added Irina.
More than 500 individual entrepreneurs from Vitebsk region gathered in the morning on January 28 near the regional executive committee. IE from Vitebsk, Orsha and Polotsk and other cities demanded from officials to discuss the problems of small businesses.
In late January, a meeting was held in Vitebsk city of regional entrepreneurs with representatives of local authorities.
The deputy chairman of the Regional Executive Committee Mr. Oleg Matskevich joined the meeting of entrepreneurs together with senior officials of the regional tax office, the center of standardization and metrology. The meeting lasted about three hours. All the challenges of its members were discussed. At the same time, deputy chairman of the Regional executive committee emphasized that the representatives of local authorities hear entrepreneurs and try to help them.
It should be noted that trade union leader Irina Yaskevich is included in the Working Group established under the Ministry of Economy on entrepreneurship issues, but in case there will be nothing agreed on addressing the requirements of the individual entrepreneurs, Irina intends to leave the Working Group and continue to fight in other ways.
To see video interview of Irina Yaskevich and to get more information on the situation with entrepreneurs in Belarus, please click here: http://ok.ru/video/65066754269274-1?fromTime=14
There is also a portuguese version of the Blog where one can access personal updates on news and events. It can be found on this link: http://streetnetbrasil.wordpress.com/
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StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.
Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.
The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies