The new rules of importation of goods through the border are to hurt common Belarusians.
Charter97.org website has been informed about that by one of Minsk entrepreneurs, who was engaged in transportation of tyres and wheel discs from Lithuania and Poland. He called the new rules of importation, suddenly imposed by the State Customs Committee on August 1, “dirty work.”
- What is the reason for imposing the new regulations of importation of goods from abroad? Why were tyres, wheel discs and alcohol the goods on which the restrictions have been imposed?
- All the information about the goods, imported into the country and declared while being cleared at the customs, is analyzed. The authorities see what goods and in which quantity are moved through the border. Besides, they turned attention to the fact that over the last 4 years tyres’ sales had dropped gradually. Meanwhile, a huge number of cars arrived into the country in 2011. So the volume of the market is rather vast.
At the same time, the number of tyres imported into the country has increased sharply. People understand that it is more economical to order them online than to buy them at the market place or in a shop. The needed type is to be brought from Lithuania or Poland in a week. Prices are much lower, and this concerns not tyres only, but many other goods, which are imported. It is clear that the authorities have noticed that huge sums of money are simply lost by the budget.
As for alcohol, it’s no secret that sales of alcohol illegally imported to Belarus, have been organized in Minsk. Not only common citizens, but even cafes and restaurants were customers of this trade, as prices for good wine, cognac, whisky in Lithuania and Belarus, differ by several times. A usual Hennessy’s cost in a duty free shop at the border is $35, and $100 in Minsk. It was a very common business in Brest, Hrodna, Ashmyany, Pastavy as well. There are lots of goods imported “inofficially” at the market places.
- Was tyres-importing business profitable?
- One should not forget that when tyres are imported from Lithuania and Poland, the VAT is not returned, and it amounts to more than 20% of the cost. And profits of Lithuanian and Polish manufacturers were growing all this time, too. One of the firms we cooperated with, increased sales by 56% in 2012. Belarusians were buying more tyres in Lithuania than natives. Recently most companies there were focused on our citizens only.
Tyres were bought not only by physical persons, but also by the firms working officially, through their “grey” schemes, through carriers of goods. The new regulations have been imposed exactly to fight this half-legal business.
- What consequences of imposing these regulations are to be for common citizens?
- I think smuggling of large lots is to increase, many people will import tyres through Russia, as they are not required to be entered there for customs clearing. And that is to impact the cost certainly. It is possible they are to be bought in Moscow, for instance. Prices there are lower than in Minsk.
So far it is too early to speak about how much the prices will rise, as the season starts in a few months, when people think about “winter tyres.” It is not excluded that Lithuanian and Polish manufacturers are to offer some way out, as the new rules to hurt them as well. As for usual motorists, it is possible the old practice of crossing the border, changing their tyres and returning with the new ones, is to be revived. Despite of the fact that the VAT is not returned, it is still more economical.
The main outcome: Belarusians will pay more.
The meanest thing is that such measures have not been discussed, no one warned about them. I know common people who were made to go back from the border on August 1, when the new rules came into force. It is clear that in case they had been announced in advance, it could have provoked panic buying. Everyone would have been buying and bringing into the country tyres, alcoholic drinks and food products.