The authorities refuse to make concessions to sole traders.
Market traders hope their problems can be solved, but it depends on high-ranking officials. For example, decree No. 222 that bans selling goods without certificates and supporting documents can be cancelled or amended. Sole traders say it is impossible to fulfil the requirements of the decree, Radio Svaboda reports.
Sole traders from Vitebsk warned three weeks ago they would stop working on July 1. Representatives of the trade department and other government agencies visited several markets, but failed to reach a consensus with market traders.
No agreements were reached on June 30: chairmen of Vitebsk markets were invited to talk to the local authorities, but the parties did not have a constructive dialogue.
Iryna Yaskevich, a representative of Evikom shopping centre and coordinator of the organising committee to open the trade union of small businessmen Together, says:
“The meeting was initiated by the department of support and development of small business. Customs officers, tax inspectors and employees of the standartisation committee were present. We spoke about our problems, they listened to us, but said they had the instructions that they had to fulfil. Nothing can be changed on the regional level. We already said several times about our problems. Officials know about them, but I don't understand why it wasn't discussed on the highest level.
According to Iryna Yaskevich, about 60% of sole traders in Vitebsk filed zero income tax returns, which means they stop working. However, they can resume the work at any moment.
The main problem is that sole traders cannot sell the remaining goods that they had bought before the decree on mandatory certification came into force. Selling the remaining goods was officially allowed until July 1. Iryna Yaskevich recently received an official letter saying this period was prolonged until March 2015.
The other questions expressed in a letter to Lukashenka remain without answers. Under law, the authorities have 30 days to answer to appeals of citizens. Iryna Yaskevich says an answer to the letter of June 6 can be expected not later than on July 10:
“We have three questions in our appeal. Besides the question about the remaining goods, we also asked about the recognition of certificates of the Customs Union member states and duties we have to pay. If you take a calculator and count taxes, you'll figure out that you are not able to pay everything, even if you find documents that cannot be found.”
Vitebsk market traders are waiting for official answers to their questions. But they also have other problems: for example, a trader must order special vehicles to transport goods, as they are not allowed bring goods from the tours organised by tourist companies.
Sole traders will face more expenditures. Most of them understand it, so they chose to close their stalls on July 1. Iryna Yaskevich says:
“No one dares to write in notices on the door that he has to close because he cannot work. We have to wait for the answer to our letter. We said it to officials. We said it's the last straw. We cannot sell only the remaining goods. We don't have all sizes and colours, we have no new clothes, but people want to buy clothes for their children for the new school year.”