Rustam Minnikhanov: ‘The republic will support the sectors with serious problems as much as possible’
Entrepreneurs of the republic discussed the most painful consequences of self-isolation at a meeting with the Tatarstan president and Russia’s business ombudsman
A lower fee of Platon, soon transition to digital justice and simplified issue of work permit for food vans to soften negative consequences of self-isolation were asked by Tatarstan entrepreneurs working in the service industry at a meeting on 14 April. The representatives of SMEs talked about problems at an online meeting with President of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov and Russian Business Ombudsman Boris Titov. Read more about the hour-long talk about difficulties provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
“Additional measures are needed here”
The meeting of business representatives with the Tatarstan president and Russian business ombudsman and his Tatarstan colleague lasted for just an hour. During this time, the entrepreneurs managed to ask a lot of questions. For instance, they asked to lower the tariff of Platon public system, which has increased to 2,2 rubles since 1 February 2020. They also asked them to simplify the issue of permission for mobile commerce — food van. According to the Tatarstan business ombudsman’s Press Secretary Aleksandr Andreyev, representatives of this type of business asked for food vans to be ranked as a separate category that isn’t affected by general, quite strict and currently hard requirements for mobile retail facilities.
The Tatarstan State Council’s deputy, Director of Rost party’s regional office, Director General of Korib LLC Oleg Korobchenko offered Boris Titov to lower the payment in Platon system to 50 kopeks per kilometre and consider the possibility of providing other supporting measures to transport companies:
“If we don’t support cargo companies now, they will have to return lorries to leasing companies. Then it will be hard to restore the logistic system. While it is an artery of the whole business of the country.
“I know that this issue has been discussed in the government, but a decision hasn’t been made. We will continue putting our effort in this area,” Titov replied and added that if the Platon tariff was set to zero, it wouldn’t solve all problems of cargo companies. “The biggest problem is falling demand for services of cargo companies. If there are things to transport, the sector will operate. Some additional measures are needed here.”
Titov also said that specific supporting measures for cargo companies were discussed at the moment.
Digital technologies as aid
There were received two addresses from entrepreneurs about the use of digital technologies.
Firstly, to create and launch Digital Justice system as soon as possible for online trials. Managing partner of Zarubin and Partners Filipp Zarubin addressed Boris Titov with this proposal. He particularly offered to identify a person with its help in a case (like the use of digital signature for deals), which would provide a chance of remote participation in a trial via teleconference without going to the court.
“We have already written to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to create a task force to determine key digital solutions for both arbitrary judicial proceedings and general courts,” Boris Titov said. “We already have experience of work with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in other issues. We hope we will make progress in this topic in the next weeks.”
The president of Tatarstan praised this proposal and developed it having offered to make Tatarstan a pilot region to introduce it and prepare a corresponding address to the Supreme Court of Russia.
Secondly, Pyotr Didenko who represented Yandex at the meeting offered to create an online map according to self-isolation rules for hairdressers and beauty parlours, entrepreneurs of the republic asked to open them soon very much.
Asking for “Turkish holiday”
Owner if Unistroy — Business Centre LLC Albert Gilfanov asked for support for shopping malls and to rank them as a separate category, otherwise, the moratorium on taxes (penalty fees) and the moratorium on bankruptcy cases won’t apply to them. While the status as affected will help to obtain a postponement to pay taxes to provide a report, postponement in current loans and interest-free loans to pay salaries to employees.
Titov said that he had already asked the government to add non-food commerce to this list and reminded it that lessors were asked to reduce the rental by 50%:
“This, of course, is a big support for lessees but a big problem for lessors. A compromise is needed, moreover, between the entrepreneurs themselves.”
While Director General of Kazan Palace by Tasigo Serkan Aslan talked about supporting measures for hotels, particularly, about lower VAT to 7%, introduction of not tax postponement but tax holiday up to a year and a possibility of use of Turkish experience in Russia — the state in his homeland had partly compensated for hotel businesses’ costs to pay salaries.
According to him, investors who invested money in the construction of hotel complexes can’t repay the loans they have and pay salaries to the personnel.
“Our hotel has been closed since 1 April, while we are obliged to pay salaries to the employees.”
The Russian business ombudsman replied that hotels were already on the list of the most affected sectors of the economy, which guarantees a full set of supporting measures prepared by the Russian government.
“As for lower VAT, this tax is topical when there is a turnover. Now when there is no operation, it isn’t bothering you much.” However, he added that he thinks that the hotel business and HoReCa should get concessionary VAT at 10%.
Broken car is useless to flee from coronavirus
“I offered Mr Minnikhanov to open repair shops meeting all self-isolation rules,” owner of a network of self-service repair shops Avtoliga Sergey Shubin told Realnoe Vremya. “This would be a chance to not only support the sector but also increase safety on roads. It is bad if broken cars are driving in the street. The president agreed with me and asked to consider this issue.”
Shubin offered a ready-to-use recipe for contactless work with clients: to leave a car outside, disinfect the сar from the inside twice — when receiving and returning the car, a client arrives and picks his car up by taxi, a job is done in masks and gloves, car owners are prohibited to enter the repair shop.
“We are waiting for a reply from Rospotrebnadzor and hope to open soon,” Shubin told Realnoe Vremya. “The president also asked to enable car owners to get a permit to leave their home to leave and pick up the car.”
Clients don’t want to self-isolate without hairdo
Hairdressers and beauty parlours are also waiting for a permit to open. Owner of a chain under franchise of a Japanese studio Ilnaz Nabiullin reminded Minnikhanov and Titov about them at the meeting. He noted that Tatarstan residents had already begun to have their hair cut at home in a hidden way without permission, which is much more dangerous from a perspective of the coronavirus spread than the reception of clients in a studio by appointment where all sanitary norms and requirements are met, while there are video cameras to control it.
Permission hasn’t been obtained yet. Rustam Minnikhanov says that the problem is that there are no safety guarantees. He gave them a task to discuss the measures offered by the entrepreneurs together with Rospotrebnadzor and decide if such services were allowed.
Chairwoman of the Board of Halal Foods consumer cooperative Elvira Khayrullina asked Rustam Minnikhanov to sell food in food vans and simplify the procedure to obtain permission for mobile retail facilities. She offered him to enlist food vans as a separate category of mobile retail facilities that wouldn’t be affected by a requirement to be added to the Scheme of Mobile Commercial Venues. She also offered to create a clear list of rules for food vans to determine their work, which also regulates the design of mobile retail facilities.
Rustam Minnikhanov backed this initiative if only safety rules excluding direct contact between a salesperson and buyer were met.
“We will give such an instruction. We have enough sites to provide such services.”
Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin and Director of the Administration of Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor in Tatarstan Marina Patyashina supported the idea too.
“I think this format can be considered. We will explain the requirements for both a food van and prevention measures a buyer will have to take.”
While entrepreneur Yekaterina Safina’s question about the possibility of selling seasonal goods for gardeners in the florist’s — sprouts and seedling — turned out to be not topical: they can be sold.
“You are welcome to work. We will only thank you. We have already permitted to sell seedlings and seeds, so I don’t see any problem to organise sales of goods for the garden. I hope that most of the elderly are now working on the allotments, making beds and planting plants,” the head of the Tatarstan replied to her.
“We aren’t making our decisions now”
The meeting had a hidden slogan: “Cautiousness is a priority”. President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov noted that the government of Russia was taking all necessary measures to support the most affected sectors:
“We aren’t making our decisions now because we don’t understand the duration and scale of those problems that exist now. When we see where to move, I assure you that the republic will support those serious with serious problems as much as possible.”
Boris Titov thinks it is a correct stance:
“Actions in this situation must be taken carefully, with a clear understanding of what tendencies this economic storm is acquiring and what consequences it will have. It is being hard for everybody — salaries must be paid, moreover, many people’s sales have dropped to zero. The system of concessionary lending isn’t operating to the full yet. Banks must grant loans for salaries at 0%, but they are restraining this process in many regions.”
Titov also said that the main task at the moment was to save jobs:
“This is the key to survive and overcome the crisis.”
The head of Tatarstan asked the Russian president’s business ombudsman to support the most affected enterprises with subsidies to save jobs so that a part of the money given in the employment service would be paid by an employer who saved jobs:
“We will anyway invest this money into unemployment benefits. People must be saved. People are the most valuable thing. To receive payments today, a person must resign and sign up on a special website. Can’t there be envisaged subsidies for the most affected sectors to save the staff?”
Titov replied that such an issue would be considered.