Shamil Ageyev: “Tax authorities think that everyone is a thief, they've brought labelling to the point of absurdity that way”
The head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tatarstan about the survival of businesses without UTII under the yoke of coronavirus and in difficult economic conditions
Temporary “holidays” from visits of supervisory authorities, relief for tenants of public spaces, negotiations with largest rentiers — this is how the republican authorities are trying to support SMEs during the coronavirus pandemic. In general, it is too early to scream about the huge losses to businesses, one should exploit the “art of the entrepreneur” and not to shift the responsibility on the circumstances, said Chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerse of Industry and Trade of Tatarstan Shamil Ageev. During the online conference of Realnoe Vremya, he explained why he considers the abolition of UTII (unified tax on imputed income) premature and called the shortcomings of the programme of total labeling of goods.
“We are working on holidays for inspections for small and medium-sized businesses”
The introduction of a quarantine and a number of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic are justified. But one shouldn't give in to panic and bring the situation to extremes, “self-isolation can lead to absurdity”, said Shamil Ageev, the chairperson of the board of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, opening the online conference of Realnoe Vremya.
“Given these conditions, we must decide how to help small and medium-sized businesses, and business in general. The whole world is actively responding to business assistance. We have only half-measures so far — 300 billion rubles have been allocated for everything. But this is very little," emphasizes the head of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
According to Shamil Ageev, the most appropriate measure from Moscow now would be not only to increase the responsibility of regional authorities for what is happening to businesses but also to transfer them financial powers and resources that local authorities could use independently. In general, adequate measures are being taken in the republic, Ageev is convinced, and discussions continue on measures to support SMEs with the ministry of economy of the Republic of Tatarstan.
“We are currently working on a holiday on inspections for small and medium-sized businesses, so that this will work well. Further: where they rent (space) from state and municipal institutions, we ask for deferred payments. We need to work with large property owners to ensure that they do not survive their clients. There is no demand, there are no people, and you have to pay for everything. The situation is tense.
At the moment, entrepreneurs can not yet calculate losses, they only calculate the lost profit, it is too early to talk about any huge losses. The guest of Realnoe Vremya noted that it is wrong to assign responsibility for what is happening solely to the authorities or the pandemic. An entrepreneur should have a “margin of safety” to maintain stability even in times of crisis, without resorting to extreme measures — the dismissal of staff and closing the business. “This is the art of the entrepreneur, the art of the organizer," says Shamil Ageev.
“The federal government should share both its powers and resources”
Doing business in the republic, as well as in Russia as a whole, is becoming more difficult, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasizes, talking about the business climate of Tatarstan. In 2016-2017, about 33,000 enterprises and organizations stopped operating in the republic every year, while 7,000 more were organized. In 2018-2019, the difference was reduced to just 200. In 2019 alone, about 44,000 enterprises and organizations stopped operating, and about 44,800 were formed.
Shamil Ageev names the tax administration system, the increasing burden on the part of fiscal and supervisory services, and the complexity of reporting systems, especially for SMEs, as the reasons for the increase in tension. “If we are ahead of the entire planet in terms of tax collection, then the situation with the access to resources is not so good," the expert concludes.
“There is a very large concentration of power in the federal centre. In fact, little is given to the regional and municipal level. I think that this is the time when the federal government should share its powers and resources in order to resolve all these issues. I think in this regard, the changes in the Constitution will help to raise the role of local authorities, especially in terms of supporting small and medium-sized businesses," said Shamil Ageev.
“UTII cancellation is not carried out on time”
The abolition of the unified tax on imputed income (UTII) is currently the most inconvenient step, the next wave of tax reforms began “at the wrong time”, the chairman of the board of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes. The law of 2002 limits the validity of UTII until January 1, 2021, until this date in Tatarstanalone, about 55,000 entrepreneurs must decide on the tax regime.
“The system was very simple and clear. What is our problem? When the tax complication begins. I was always surprised, even when Mishustin headed the tax service, how production is growing by 1,5%, and taxes are collected by 16, 20, 30 per cent more... But we must stop somewhere. My personal opinion, I emphasize that it is not a good time to move away from this UTII. There should still be a transition period. Now you can not further complicate the life of those who are engaged in business. Some things need to be let go a little bit, to be in shoes of people. I think that the government of Mishustin will be ready for this," he suggested. “We will raise these questions.
Shamil Ageyev stressed that it is still unclear whether the federal government is ready to go to a meeting of SMEs: “We have not received an answer yet.” The conditions for small and medium-sized businesses in Russia have not improved in the past few years, the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya concluded.
“This is the desire of the tax authorities to regulate everything... They've brought to the point of absurdity the situation with labelling”
The introduction of a system of total lablelling of goods in Russia in the form in which it is carried out now can really hurt small businesses and the self-employed," said Ageev The main message of such strict measures is state control, which is, in fact, an adequate measure, but the implementation of this idea, in his opinion, has been pushed to the extreme.
“We have already come out with this and discussed it in the State Council. This is the desire of the tax authorities to regulate everything. They think that everyone is a thief, they brought it to the point of absurdity with labelling that way so that nothing gets past the “state eye”, and everyone paid for everything. We are now going to the State Duma, to Moscow, in order to stop this in time. Some things need to be labelled, others don't. This is a whole series of issues... If self-employed or small businesses do this — it should not be labelled. We need to stop in time and “let go”," said the head of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “To delegate some issues to the regions to solve. I think this absurdity will be resolved.”