''No tax fraud and tax evasion.'' Another programme for SMEs launched in Tatarstan

Functionaries hope it won’t repeat the story of scandalous Leasing-grant

Tatarstan has launched the next programme to support small and medium enterprises – deliberately for residents and managing companies of industrial parks. Functionaries promise them ''almost free'' loans. But the programme's budget is limited. And there will enough money only for seven companies at the first stage with full conditions. The Ministry of Economy is convinced the new programme won't repeat the story of scandalous Leasing-grant. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

''The interest will be equal to zero''

The next programme to support small and medium enterprises was launched in Tatarstan on 27 August. This time it's designed for residents and managing companies of industrial parks and industrial sites. Their loan rate costs will be compensated, so ''the interest will be in fact equal to zero'', First Deputy Economy Minister of Tatarstan Rustem Sibgatullin told journalists.

Tatarstan plans to subsidise loan rates to purchase equipment, build or reconstruct buildings as well as engineering infrastructure. The biggest subsidy is equal to 5 million rubles a year for one organisation.

The support covers loans taken out from 1 January 2017 for more than one year. In addition, the loan interest rate shouldn't exceed the average rate across the country. State support receivers themselves must meet standard criteria: to be a small and medium enterprise, be registered in Tatarstan and have no unpaid taxes and compulsory payments.

''This programme's ideology is to stimulate the entrepreneurs who are thinking of purchasing equipment or constructing a building or some engineering infrastructure, planning to take out a loan, but an interest rate, this loan's burden restrain them,'' said Sibgatullin.

''The interest will be in fact equal to zero'', First Deputy Economy Minister of Tatarstan Rustem Sibgatullin explained

He says according to the programme's conditions the bank loan becomes ''almost gratis'' for its participants. In turn, the economic sense for the republic is that enterprises will free cash and faster reach their installed capacity, which ''will create additional revenue'' and bring ''benefit to the region's economy''.

Proftermo factory from Naberezhnye Chelny, which treats details for the automotive industry and other sectors with head, became one of the first participants of the programme. ''I can't say it [the subsidy] simplifies our life, it's production anyway. But it's considerable help,'' told manager and owner of the factory Anatoly Tsveyer.

Proftermo factory needed to purchase new high-tech equipment the enterprise had taken out a loan in SME Corporations programme for. Initially, the rate was 10,6%. But now, considering the subsidy, it will reduce in fact. ''As for the subsidy, it's a very timely measure. It helps us to at least pay off the loans and spend money to develop production further. It's a very necessary and useful scheme,'' Tsveyer praised the programme.

Anatoly Tsveyer 's Proftermo factory from Naberezhnye Chelny became one of the first participants of the programme. Photo: tatarstan.ru

Money for compliance

However, the programme's scale isn't big now. According to Sibgatullin, its budget for 2018 is equal to just 35 million rubles. Moreover, seven companies have either already filled in an application or are going to fill it in to get the subsidies. It means if each of them needs the biggest subsidy (5 million rubles), the support's limit will run out. However, Sibgatullin says the programme's budget can increase during this year: ''Now we will feel the activity of this measure. If it isn't enough, we're ready to consider the issue of rising it.'' He also adds that not every receiver needs the biggest subsidy.

It's not clear how the effectiveness of state support will be estimated. ''There isn't such a formula that one ruble is equal to budget effect. It's important for us to lift an entrepreneur's probably psychological barrier,'' said the deputy minister.

The fulfilment of other projects aimed to support entrepreneurs in Tatarstan in the last years was accompanied by notorious corruption scandals. A criminal case linked with Leasing-grant programme began in autumn 2016. Head of the SME Association Khaidar Khaliullin and his wife became the most famous participants then. Apart from them, the case has another twenty accused people. They are accused of stealing and trying to steal budgetary money at about 40 million rubles and legalising the stolen property.

The fund supporting affected equity holders and bank depositors, which was created in May 2017, were implicated in a corruption story. One month ago, the Tatarstan Ministry of Internal Affairs spread information about a criminal case linked with embezzlement of at least 9 million rubles from the fund. According to the investigation with the help of suspects who are close to officials of the fund, not real victims but pseudo-bank depositors and pseudo-equity holders got the money.

Sibgatullin hopes this won't happen to the new state support programme. ''There is no competition fee here [to consider applications from entrepreneurs]. The bank considers the projects. The Economy Ministry's employees look at formal signs only: if it complies [with requirements], here is your money, if it doesn't – no money is given. There can be no tax fraud and tax evasion,'' the functionary claimed.

By Artyom Malyutin

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