Kostantin Bogdanenko: Feedback will be Ensured for the Residents and Authorities
Under the initiative of business of the Far East, the Association for the Support of residents of the new economic regime, the free port of Vladivostok was established
The initiator for the creation of the Association, Konstantin Bogdanenko, the founder of the retailer DNS, a member of the regional legislative assembly, talks about what entrepreneurs demand from authorities, and what authorities demand from entrepreneurs.
— It did not come from the authorities. Initially, Minvostokrazvitiya and the Corporation for the Development of the Far East were even suspicious about it, as the activity was not authorised. And the idea came from below. It came to me at the Eastern economic forum last year: some entrepreneurs were asking officials about some issues, but in general everything looked unprepared and quite messy. While similar ideas were being expressed. This is how interest arose: to express common positions, that can later be transformed into changes in legislation.
— It will not be heard if 1 person is speaking, but it will be important enough if it is said with the weight of an association
— The conversion of a vast amount of thoughts into a coherent legislative initiative, this is the function of the association. In Russia, unfortunately they are not actually ready for this, while in the world such associations play an extremely important role in various spheres.
Here people and companies are not ready to associate, and most importantly are not willing to pay for this. At the same time, for consolidated thoughts to appear, it is necessary for an office to work, it is necessary for people to collect and process data.
— How much does membership cost?
— 120,000 rubles a year from each member/legal entity. For some this is a lot, while for others it is not. For companies providing the minimum 5 million rubles of investments as a pre-condition for entrance to the Free port, it is probably not that much.
— Is this the sole source of financing?
— Recently, an offer on the development of a business plan for prospective residents appeared on the market, and the prices have varied, from 50 to 250 thousand rubles, and there are no guaranties. This activity is undertaken by us as an association, a union of enterprises, that have already done this.
— And what is the number of members?
— At present, there are 20 actually active members, including a company with foreign partners from Japan. Now, our task is to make the association useful for its members.
— How is this defined in the charter?
— For now, the tasks are quite general. The majority of residents are at the starting stage: some have just begun to build something, some are only now starting to do something at all. There are general questions: concerning the expected taxation system, methods of interaction with customs, land lot allocation.
— However, what are the main questions?
— The key issue now is land. At present, 8 particular residents of the Free Port are unable to implement respective projects due to limited access to the land. This is applied by the Ministry of Defense (Minoborony). E.g., the whole of Vladivostok is covered by this restriction: military forestry is a simply unlimited expanse. And construction on these lands is prohibited.
— But what can be done by you as an association as regards Minoborony?
— We are just getting started. We are studying the methods and means of interacting with state regulating authorities, including with Minoborony. This is the essence of the association. At the very least, a consolidated request from 8 residents of the Free Port shall be collected and sent to the authorities, which may have an effect on the situation. In this case, e.g., to Minvostokrazvitiya, which was already done.
— Isn't it the Corporation for the Development of the Far East, as the managing company, that should settle land issues?
The Corporation might be willing to protect the residents' interests, but many questions are differently understood by officials, because they are officials. This is not bad, as the opposite is quite good. But the activities of an entrepreneur union, a community of residents can monitor their interests in a more precise and particular manner. The Corporation ensures that the law is enforced, and this is a huge task. Returning to the topic of land and Minoborony: The Corporation is dealing with this. But it is good for the Corporation also if someone prepares a professional opinion on the situation from the entrepreneurs' point of view.
— Are you planning to work with prospective residents, or does the association exists only for its members?
— The idea of popularization and work with prospective residents is among the most important ones. It is our aim to enlarge the association: the larger the number of members, the stronger the professional union.
— It is good to popularize and consolidate opinions. But you also have to make certain offers
— Of course, the function of the association provides for activities in the area of law making. This is the task of Minvostokrazvitiya. The feedback circuit for the ministry is ensured by the association.
— Are there any issues in the law that can already be corrected?
— As I already said, this is the taxation system. It is expected, that during the autumn session, the State Duma will adopt changes providing for a switch to a common tax for Free Port residents. Besides, the land allotment issue shall be discussed. This means providing favourable conditions, under which the regional authorities will have to allot land lots to Free Port residents.
— Is there any procedure at present?
— In fact, there is no procedure. Work is ongoing to establish a special authority to simplify this process. It is planned to establish commissions that will include representatives from municipalities, land owners, Minoborony, and Minvostokrazvitiya.
— You are located in Primorsky Territory, but the Vladivostok Free Port operates in another 4 regions. Are there any representative offices in other regions?
— During the last few months, I have visited Khabarovsk and Sakhalin, where I represented the association and talked about its activities. I plan to visit Kamchatka. I would like to mention that in Vladivostok interest in the association is much higher. However, members of the Free Port in Vanino, for example, are companies aware of what they do, but so far I have seen no interest from them concerning our activities. And this is fine, as an association is required at a time when there are common issues important for everyone.