On the improvement of the special legal regime of the park

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On May 26, 2017, the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 166 dated May 12, 2017, aimed at improving the special legal regime of the «Great Stone» industrial park, came into force. The document is aimed at increasing the investment appeal of the project, including by creating the most comfortable administrative environment, as well as optimizing tax benefits and other preferences.

The Decree creates all the necessary conditions for the functioning of the park administration as «one station», which implies rendering of all services directly in the park. The investor does not need to go to various ministries and committees - it is enough to come to the administration and express the desire to cooperate. Now, the state administration bodies, upon request, are obliged to send their officers to the park to carry out administrative procedures.

Moreover, the administration has been assigned additional functions, such as development, coordination, including with the Administration of the President, and submission to the Government of draft regulatory legal acts, other documents related to the functioning of the park, participation in the promotion of the park, approval of urban development projects for detailed territory planning, assigning names to the elements of the street-road network.

The administration of the park has become the coordinator of the work of state bodies aimed at timely and appropriate settlement of issues raised by the investor while implementing projects in the park.

It is also important to mention that the document imposes a moratorium on inspections of residents and joint company without the approval of the park administration. It is necessary to take into account that the overwhelming majority of the park's residents are newly created legal entities with foreign capital.

The decree also reduces the «threshold» for the entry of residents into the park. The main areas of economic activities have included informatics, pharmaceutics, e-commerce, activities related to the storage and processing of large amounts of data, social and cultural activities. At the same time, a ban on the implementation of potentially hazardous activities for health and life of the population, the environment, for example, on the production of alcohol and tobacco products, radioactive materials, has been introduced.

Another important alteration is the reduction of investment volume to $ 500 thousand dollars, but under the condition of investing during the three-year period. Previously, a company could have become a resident of the park with minimum investment volume of $ 5 million dollars without any time limit. The adjustment will allow attracting into the park the subjects of small and medium business for the creation of complementary industries of large companies.

The document empowers the park administration to independently decide on the registration of a legal entity as a resident whose investment project does not meet the requirements for the main areas and scope of investment.

The decree also simplifies customs administration. It is not necessary to complete the customs procedure of the free customs zone when the goods are transferred to another resident. The possibility of using the territory of one free customs zone by several residents has been introduced. In fact, we are talking about creating a «bond zone», which will fully engage the park in the implementation of the strategy «One Belt One Road».

In addition, goods produced in the park by using foreign raw materials are exempt from the «import» VAT.

Tax privileges are also important for the investor. The decree confirms the right of the park's subjects, first of all of investors, to apply other preferential operating regimes provided by law. For example, ones established to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the territory of medium, small urban settlements, rural areas.

The document provides for lower energy prices for residents of the park and the joint company in order to maximize their convergence with the prices of fuel and energy resources in other EAEC member countries, which is an essential factor for the investor in deciding whether to «enter» the park. Thus, tariffs (prices) for gas and electricity will be set at cost without generating profit for energy (gas) supplying organizations.

The beginning of calculating the period of application of park benefits for exemption from income tax at the date of declaration of profits, exemption from property tax and land tax refers to the entire duration of the special tax regulation procedure. A similar procedure is applied in free economic zones of Belarus, special economic zones of Russia and Kazakhstan. This procedure is the most attractive for the implementation of projects that are realized «in the open field».

Turnover for the acquisition of works and services, property rights specified in subparagraph 1.4 of paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Tax Code, by the residents of the park in Belarus will be exempt from VAT. A similar procedure was established in the FEZ of Kazakhstan. Residents and investors will also be able to save on the acquisition of land for their facilities by releasing such transactions from this tax.

Moreover, it is now possible to agree on a list of goods (works, services) for the purpose of obtaining a tax deduction for the residents of the park not within 15 days but within 5 days.

In many respects it is now easier for a resident and investor of the park to carry out construction activities in this area. Following up the preference on the application of foreign standards in construction, a simplified procedure for the adaptation of foreign projects will be introduced, and no procurement procedures will be required by selecting contracting companies. Given the foreign origin of the newly created legal entities in the park, it will not be necessary to obtain a conformity certificate for the performance of the functions of the customer.

A number of provisions of the new Decree are aimed at liberalization of relations in the sphere of migration, including labor migration.

The specific nature of the project, its international status and novelty for Belarus require the recruitment of a large number of foreign specialists with experience in working on similar projects in foreign countries and knowledge of foreign languages at the level of the native language. Therefore, the Decree provides for the visa-free entry of representatives of potential investors and residents to Belarus with the possibility of their stay on its territory within 180 days in a calendar year.

It also provides for the possibility of foreign companies employing immigrant workers. This provision is necessary for foreign general contractors by building up the facilities of the park from preferential loans of Chinese banks, which imply an obligatory share of the Chinese component in the construction price.

In addition, the document allows the registration of foreign residents at the place of residence and (or) stay in temporary accommodations specially constructed for these purposes - in order to optimize the costs associated with attracting foreign labor to construct facilities financed by tied loans.

The Decree introduces the so-called «stabilization» clause. The term of its validity is 10 years. It provides for that regulatory legal acts which can worsen the conditions of conducting activities in the park will not extend to residents, joint company and its affiliated companies.

The Decree contains a number of other privileges and preferences (on free currency exchange transactions, foreign trade transactions, pricing for park products, venture capital investments, etc.), which can also be consulted here http://www.industrialpark.by/storage/app/uploads/p...