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From resources to value added

And about. Deputy Chairman of the Government - Minister of Economic Development of Transbaikalia Andrey Kefer - on the support and development of small and medium-sized businesses in the region

By order of the Russian government, the Trans-Baikal Territory additionally allocated 500 million rubles to support entrepreneurship. EastRussia also spoke about what other state support measures are provided in Transbaikalia for small and medium-sized businesses. about. deputy chairman of the regional government - Minister of Economic Development of Transbaikalia Andrey Kefer.

From resources to value added

- Andrei Iosifovich, in 2019 in the Trans-Baikal Territory, the implementation of the national project “Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Support for Individual Entrepreneurship Initiatives” began. Tell us more about this.

- The amount of resources allocated to the Trans-Baikal Territory is 1,7 billion rubles. The implementation of this project involves a six-year period, designed for 2019-2024 years. The annual volume of provided resources varies from 250 to 280 million rubles. At the same time, the target indicator, which brought to the region the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, is the need to create additional jobs for small and medium-sized enterprises. And he is very ambitious - 24 thousand additional jobs. You can argue for a long time whether direct support affects the creation of new jobs or not. Nevertheless, practice shows that the more money we spend on supporting a business, the correspondingly it feels better, the more jobs a small and medium business can create by converting this support into real projects.

Today, the Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory, Alexander Osipov, poses very serious tasks. He himself initiated work with the federal center on attracting additional resources. We formed letters to the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, to the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. The result of our work was the decision to allocate an additional 500 million rubles to the region to support small and medium-sized enterprises. At the same time, we do not set an end in itself simply to saturate this project with money. You need to understand how to use them effectively.

- 500 million rubles is an almost tenfold increase in financial resources to the level of the previous year. And how did the region support entrepreneurs in previous years?

- Starting from 2016 of the year, the amount of support for small and medium-sized businesses has been very modest. In the 2016 year, it amounted to 82 million rubles, in the 2017 year - 37 million rubles, in the 2018 year - 82 million rubles. In the 2019 year, based on the fact that we began the implementation of the national project, the subject was allocated 230 million rubles from the federal budget. Together with co-financing from the budget of the subject, the amount amounted to 752 million rubles.

- What, in addition to additional financing, does the regional government plan to do to make the business of entrepreneurs more comfortable?

- The funds received will allow expanding the access of entrepreneurs to preferential financing of projects, additional support will be given to about 200-250 business ideas. I also note that currently there is a preferential lending rate at 3,5% for single-industry towns. We propose expanding these borders and introducing soft loans not only in single-industry towns, but also in border regions. We believe that there are very serious growth points and the greatest challenges, given the economic situation in these areas. Entities located in the border areas will have the opportunity to access the super-preferential rate - 3,5%.

Lending to five million rubles was organized for businesses with a validity period of more than one year, but there were some restrictions on the types of activities. They concerned wholesale and retail trade, and a number of other directions. We believe that this is wrong. Therefore, we change the conditions and offer to remove all restrictions. The same trade, for example, in hard-to-reach areas of the region is very difficult from the point of view of practical implementation. We offer to support our entrepreneurs and in this way.

Well, the third position, which has already found its solution, concerns the fact that when assessing the possibility of issuing a loan, small businesses were considered in the prism of five-year financing: the credit history of the entrepreneur was examined over five years, and if there were any irregularities, the businessman was deprived of the opportunity obtaining a loan. At the same time, we understand that the last five years have been very difficult for business. For some objective reasons, credit history could grow into “blots”. Therefore, we suggest reducing the consideration of credit history to one year. This will provide a very serious opportunity for our entrepreneurs to gain access to soft loans.

What do we expect at the exit? Additional financing, as I said above, will allow us to support more than 200 projects. The first stage of selection has already begun. These steps will make it possible to create more than 500 jobs and at least save about three thousand jobs, which, given the current natural dynamics in the region, may be lost. This is the main challenge.

- What are the pain points that affect the development of the region. Is it possible to cope with them at the regional level, or is a solution at the federal level necessary?

- Unfortunately, no matter how much we say that the investment climate and the business climate in Transbaikalia need to be maintained and intensified, the objective changes in federal legislation that have recently taken place have a very painful effect on the well-being of small and medium-sized businesses. I mean certification, and the use of cash registers, and new approaches to the use of CCPs, new requirements for passenger transportation. 

It is clear that this is all aimed at improving the safety and comfort of consumers, but this affects the health of the business quite financially. Therefore, we continue to work on the creation of public councils. Out of ten bodies that have supervisory powers, public councils have been created in all of them on this day. Moreover, this was done not formally, but with the active participation of the entrepreneurial community. This gives us the opportunity to literally daily discuss many critical issues and quickly solve them.

Analyzing the latest changes in federal legislation, I want to say that there are positive changes as well. Changes to the Tax Code regarding changes in the terms of payment of transport tax have been passed. Previously, the due date was February 1, which was hard enough for entrepreneurs. Now it has been transferred to 31 in March, that is, the business has the whole first quarter to consolidate financial resources and pay the transport tax. Entrepreneurs have already welcomed this change.

Further, property tax organizations. The latest amendments to the Tax Code abolished the prerequisite for the submission of tax returns. That is, if earlier a business had to calculate property tax, provide a tax return and pay, now it pays without providing a tax return, making calculations on its site. This is a risk-based approach, a certain deviation from the rules - the business assumes an obligation to pay taxes in a responsible manner. Considering these and other issues at the site of public councils with the participation of the business community, we are confident that the investment climate and the well-being of business in the Trans-Baikal Territory will be changed for the better in the very near future.

- And what factors negatively affect the investment attractiveness of the region?

- Frankly, I have repeatedly met with entrepreneurs of Transbaikalia, including in order to rank the reasons that impede the development of business. The reasons are characteristic more for the country as a whole than for Transbaikalia specifically. As a reason, the number one business calls the high tax burden. Formulating our proposals for the accelerated development of the Far Eastern Federal District, we also formed part of the proposals regarding the preferential tax regime for the Far Eastern Federal District. In this part, we very seriously hope for the preferential regime that our residents receive when entering the TOP. You can discuss for a long time about the benefits of income tax, as new industries have a priori no profit. But the fact that payments to social funds are reduced by 30% gives a powerful impetus to business development. They also call tariffs for electricity and heat, but not so often.

More often one of the reasons is the lack of long, cheap products. We now provide loans for 36 months, which is actually really not enough. Minimum investment loans must be granted for seven to ten years. This is a comfortable period for business, which will not only allow you to start your own business, but also successfully develop it.

- In your opinion, what are the most difficult areas in terms of entrepreneurship development in the Trans-Baikal Territory?

- The processing, non-raw materials sector is the most difficult to develop, that is, it is real production. And here the governor guides us to create the most comfortable conditions. The commodity sector very often develops independently of us. Large companies come in and are engaged in ore mining. But the processing sector, production, for example, assembly or engineering is a serious challenge for us. In Transbaikalia today there are distressed assets associated precisely with this - Mashzavod, a mining equipment plant, and a number of other facilities. For each such case, we work individually, trying to attract investors to these projects. Find large companies that would integrate our local production into their business.

- Through which platforms can entrepreneurs take advantage of financial assistance?

- The main platform is the Small Business Support Fund. In this regard, I want to announce the creation of the My Business Center. My colleagues and I calculated that now in the territory of the Trans-Baikal Territory there are 19 infrastructure organizations providing business support, including consulting and microfinance assistance. In our opinion, this is good, but entrepreneurs often do not know where to turn to them. We are now creating a single office, which in “single window” mode will allow, figuratively speaking, to take the entrepreneur by the hand, to conduct him through all the structures that will be concentrated in this place so that he receives comprehensive support. I want to appeal to entrepreneurs, and ask to be as active as possible by contacting the Small Business Support Fund.

Our task is to provide full support, because giving birth to a child is half the battle, in fact, it needs to be educated and learned. This is the approach we are currently cultivating in working with entrepreneurs.

- How do you assess the investment climate in the Trans-Baikal Territory and how, in your opinion, can we attract potential investors?

- In my opinion, the evolutionary problems that we had, for example, underfunding of the social sectors, sectors of infrastructure development, of course, gave negative signals, including to the business, which saw that money was chronically short. There was a contraction, contraction. We hope that, taking into account the implementation of national projects, taking into account the position of the head of the region, business will receive completely opposite signals from us. For example, in the framework of projects - centers of economic growth - we have already begun designing facilities so that business understands on which sites we will build next year, which ones to repair, and accordingly adjust its infrastructure, financial capabilities for mandatory participation in tenders for construction, repair and other types of work.

Now work in all directions has intensified significantly. And the tax inspectorate created a good workable public council where all situations that arise are considered, with the prosecutor's office of the region, each situation is sorted out manually and together the council members are trying to find a legal solution to each issue. It is necessary not to wave away business, but to effectively help in solving the situation. We find opportunities for debt restructuring, for the conclusion of amicable agreements, which makes it possible for businesses to save the enterprise and jobs. There are, of course, problems, but a revival of attention is present at all stages.

- What are the promising areas of economic development in the regions.

- The areas are very heterogeneous, including in their socio-economic development. Most recently, we held an investment session in the Trans-Baikal region, there was a good visiting event. We looked at the possibilities of implementing the plan for the infrastructural development of the Trans-Baikal region, the development of its entrepreneurial, social sphere, roads, heat, water supply. In this plan, as a source of development, we tried to lay the possible development of investment projects. First of all, this is agricultural production, and all that is connected with the border territory is investment in tourism and trade. We are now trying not only to identify the problem, but also through investment projects to provide the regions with resources to solve these problems, including the repair of public sector facilities. We consider everything in a complex. I hope that we get a vital construct, which we intend to further type on to other regions of Transbaikalia.

- Today, the future of the economy of the Trans-Baikal Territory is being laid, determining the development of the region for the coming decades. Will Transbaikalia remain a raw material region, or are there directions not exclusively related to raw materials?

- Our task is to change the situation, but so far the development vector is absolutely raw. While our expectations are related to ASEZs, the Ministry of Investment Development of the Territory has now been created, which is daily engaged in "screening of ore and extraction of gold sand." I am sure that the work of our colleagues will lead us to the result and Transbaikalia from an absolutely resource region will receive value added from business.

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