21 November 2019, Thursday, 15:07
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Siamashka: We Will Not Be Able To Survive Tax Maneuver

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Siamashka: We Will Not Be Able To Survive Tax Maneuver
ULADZIMIR SIAMASHKA
PHOTO: DELFI

The Ambassador of Belarus to the Russian Federation revealed some details about the negotiations on the “union state”.

The lack of comparable gas prices in Belarus and the Smolensk region of Russia, as well as the tax maneuver, violate the Agreement on the Eurasian Union. This was stated in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda by the Belarusian Ambassador to the Russian Federation Uladzimir Siamashka.

The transcript of the interview has been published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Siamashka reminded that Belarus and Russia two years ago signed a protocol on gas pricing.

- According to this document, by the end of 2018, a common formula had to be worked out in order to achieve comparable gas prices for Belarus and for consumers of the Smolensk region of Russia in the future. Already on July 1 of this year, the corresponding intergovernmental agreement was planned to be signed.

The ambassador believes that this step would bring together the economic conditions for enterprises of Belarus and Russia, thus allowing them to start “solving other, more complex tasks of the Belarusian-Russian and Eurasian economic integration”.

- We sent our proposals to the Ministry of Energy, Gazprom, the Russian government. They offered different methods, but we have not yet received a single official conclusion. A similar situation occurs with the tax maneuver. We believe that this is a violation of the Agreement on the Eurasian Union.

In an interview with the TV channel Russia 24, Siamashka clarified that Belarus proposed four such techniques, but did not receive an answer to any of the proposals.

Commenting on the position that the tax maneuver is an internal affair of Russia, Siamashka stressed that “mutually beneficial cooperation, equality and consideration of the national interests of the parties” should be ensured in the EAEU.

- Four years ago we bought oil at the same price as the Russian refineries. And now they are taking us to the world prices. Here is an everyday example. I have to buy oil at the world price, process it, fill the tractor, car, combine, sow, harvest, release the product, and then deliver duty-free to the Russian and Eurasian markets, to sell at a low price. That means a loss.

The Ambassador of Belarus noted that the Russian budget, which is largely formed through the sale of oil and refined products, can afford a tax maneuver and even benefit from it.

- And the Russian oil refineries don’t suffer much as they will get compensation. We have no oil. In Belarus, the “maneuver” casts a double blow - both to the oil refining industry and to the budget. We have already lost 3.6 billion dollars and can still lose about 10 billion more. The Russian government has an understanding of the problems of Belarus in connection with the “maneuver”, and the compensation mechanisms are already being discussed.

In an interview with Russia 24, Siamashka continued this topic, saying that the costs of the second phase of the tax maneuver, which will last until 2024, are “very heavy” for Belarus.

- Russian refineries will buy oil somewhere for 83−84% of the world price. We will buy at the world price. And what is this benefit? In order for the refinery to work normally, to take loans, serve them, upgrade, 4–5% is enough. And here comes 16−17%. We will not have this. Therefore, we will not be able to survive the tax maneuver.

Speaking about the prospects for the introduction of a single currency, the Ambassador said that as long as Russia and Belarus do not improve the economic conditions, it’s premature to solve the problem of a single customs, tax legislation, a single currency, and a single issuing center.

Siamashka said that now the parties are negotiating the program for the implementation of the agreement on the “union state”, but the reconsideration of the document is not on the agenda.