The presidential decree ‘On preventing social dependency’ (commonly called ‘tax on idlers’), will not be cancelled, but its drawbacks should be fixed, Belarus president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at Tuesday’s conference.
The decree which was signed in April 2015 established the obligation of the citizens of Belarus, foreign citizens permanently residing in Belarus, stateless persons, who did not participate in the financing of public spending or participated in such financing less than 183 days (six months – ed.) in the past year, to pay a fee of 20 basic units.
According to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, up to 500,000 able-bodied people in Belarus are not officially employed and do not pay taxes, however they take advantage of social benefits provided by the government, like free healthcare service and education, subsidized housing and utility services and subsidized transportation, etc. Non-payment or partial payment of the fee is fraught with a fine of 2-4 base units or administrative arrest with mandatory community service.
“The decree was meant to eradicate a most important problem — social dependency. We expected to resolve the problem by encouraging employable citizens, who can and should work, to embrace a legal working career and honor their constitutional requirement to participate in the financing of state expenses,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka.
The Belarusian leader admitted that the decree faced a lot of criticism, but promised that it would not be scrapped. Instead, he ordered to find out what problems had been unearthed in the course of implementing the decree.
“I am told that notifications to pay the tax are often sent to the citizens, who are not supposed to pay it and should not have been requested to pay it by government agencies. Such people include university students, women on maternity leaves, and even active-service soldiers,” he stressed.
A number of Belarusians demand the decree should be revoked, because there are very few jobs, many of which are low-paid.
Interestingly, the Russian government may decide to walk in Lukashenka’s shoes and impose a tax on working-age people who are not officially employed.