8 mins

На русском языке: Почему беларусы не перестанут получать зарплаты в конвертах?
На беларускай мове: Чаму беларусы не перастануць атрымліваць зарплаты ў канвертах?

The shadow economy is the pain of all states. But in some countries it is minimal — at the level of statistical error, while in others it can account for more than half of the entire economy.

Just yesterday it became known that a list of 12,000 «undesirable» companies was created in Belarus, which paid employees part of the salary in envelopes. According to the Economy of Belarus channel, legal entities from the list are already being prepared for raids and subsequent landings of directors or founders of companies. And the reason is that a deficit was formed in the Social Protection Fund and the so-called «authorities» decided to replenish the budget with familiar methods.

Irina Sazanovich, a member of the economic group of the Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, told why it is not profitable for Belarusians to work officially now and what needs to be done to change this.

Why won’t Belarusians stop receiving payments in ‘envelope’?

The withdrawal of shadow incomes of the population into official income is not an easy task. Globally it can be solved by two methods — carrots and sticks:

  1. The «stick» or path of force is to intimidate all those receiving shadow income with inspections, fines and arrests. In general, the working option, but requires a lot of effort on the part of the tax authorities and causes people a lot of negative emotions, which are then transferred to the state as a whole.
  2. The «carrot» or motivational path — to make sure that employees themselves want to receive a salary only officially and do not agree to a salary in envelopes, and employers were interested in paying 100% of official salaries.

If everything is clear with the force method, since it has been used in Belarus for many years, then the motivational approach needs to be analyzed in more detail. Let’s do it on the example of developed countries and understand why it doesn’t work in Belarus.

The main reason for going into the shadow or half-shadow economy is tax evasion.

Therefore, to bring income out of the shadow, it is necessary that the benefits of working «in white» outweigh the pain of paying taxes on the scales. And yes, even in developed countries, no one likes to pay taxes.

Advantages of "white" payments in developed countries and what workers in Belarus get from it

High pension payments on old ages

In the Republic of Belarus, this is not applicable, since all pensions are approximately of the same level, except for pensions of the military, officials and other privileged categories.

High unemployment benefit in case of loss of employment

In the Republic of Belarus, the maximum amount of unemployment benefits is 2 base rates, or 58 rubles per month.

High maternity benefits

Now the amount of maternity benefits in Belarus doesn’t depend on the income of the mother before going on maternity leave.

High severance pay for redundancy

In developed countries, such a benefit can reach the size of the salary for 2-3 years, if the employee worked for the same company for several decades. In Belarus, most employers pay only the required minimum under the legislation — from 2 weeks to 3 months of salary.

Opportunity to get a mortgage at a low interest rate

We are talking about a mortgage at 1-3% per annum, including mortgage for the purchase of investment real estate. At the moment, mortgage rates in Belarus are from 10% and above.

Good health insurance

In the advanced countries of the West, the health insurance system has existed for decades. Insurance there covers people, including expensive surgeries and procedures. In Belarus, there is no system of medical insurance for employees, our employee either pays for paid medicine 100% himself, or applies to the state medical Institutions.

Subsidies from the state

In the West, the remuneration of employees officially gives employer the opportunity to receive certain subsidies from the state, including support during the crisis. So in some countries during the coronavirus pandemic, employers received a subsidy from the state in the amount of 75% of the salaries of their employees. Belarusian businesses can only dream of such a level of state support.

High level official salary

After all, it allows the employee to say, «I’m a law-abiding taxpayer and have a right to know where my taxes are going!» As for Belarus, we will leave this paragraph without comment.

In conclusion

There are no incentives to avoid salaries in envelopes in Belarus now, on the contrary, private business and its employees would gladly completely exclude the state from their labor relations as an unnecessary and expensive intermediary.

We recall that from each 1000 rubles of salary, the employer pays 340 rubles to the Social Protection Fund, and the employee – 130 rubles of income tax and 10 rubles of pension tax. It is not surprising that these total 480 rubles, which should go to the state, many workers and employers prefer to divide among themselves, because they know that in difficult times they will have to rely only on themselves.

This material was prepared with the support of the Association of Belarusian Business Abroad (Warsaw).

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