March 18 – March 24, 2024
The ruling elite

Lukashenka takes lessons from Jack Sparrow on expropriation of businesses

The situation has not changed
Lukashenka takes lessons from Jack Sparrow on expropriation of businesses

Lukashenka is preparing for institutional transformations – forming the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, and then presidential elections. Therefore, he is placing his close associates at the helm of the regime’s representative bodies. The ruling class continues to replenish the budget through the expropriation of private business. The money is then redistributed to benefit the state and entrepreneurs close to the leadership.

Lukashenko continues to appoint close, proven, and most loyal individuals to key state positions. Specifically, the former head of Lukashenka’s administration, Ihar Sergeenko, became the chairman of the House of Representatives. Additionally, the politician awarded medals to deputies and senators. In this way, Lukashenka strengthens his position in power on the eve of its transformation through the introduction of a new institution – the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly (APNA). The APNA is meant to become a collegiate body. However, Lukashenka plans to maintain the personalized nature of the regime indefinitely.

Tax authorities forced a private dental clinic to pay additional taxes for hidden profits. The initiative was labeled “voluntary.” On one hand, such a practice of “voluntary” payments saves taxpayers’ time, as it does not require the justification of claims and formal charges. On the other hand, private individuals are forced to repay. Otherwise, they face a long procedure of defending their interests across various instances with an uncertain outcome. As a result, the confrontation between entrepreneurs and tax collectors often leads to business closures due to various bureaucratic barriers and/or criminal prosecution with confiscation.

At the private medical center “New Vision,” BYN 17.06 million was confiscated. Moreover, officials revoked the license “retroactively” – from 2011, which likely means the expropriation of all the assets and funds of this medical business.

Tax authorities conducted inspections at three shopping centers in Minsk.

Meanwhile, the ruling class continues to impose restrictions on small entrepreneurship, linked to Lukashenka’s personal dislike. The politician harbors great doubts about the loyalty of this demographic. Moreover, the leadership of Belarus cannot establish full control over the self-employed and small business owners, considering their number. Lukashenka prefers large private investors and businessmen with whom he can personally strike an informal agreement. Officials plan to reduce the list of activities for individual entrepreneurs and revise it for the self-employed. In 2023, the number of entrepreneurs decreased by more than 10,000 people. The latest legislative initiatives by officials threaten the existence of 49 thousand individual entrepreneurs.

Thus, the ruling class will continue measures to replenish the budget at the expense of private business, with the redistribution of funds in favor of the public sector.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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