Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Lukashenka suggests expanding network of duty-free stores

BelaPAN

The network of duty-free stores may be expanded, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said Friday while visiting Minsk-Belmytnyaservice-2, a transport and logistics center in the Minsk district.

"We should not restrain these stores, but the main thing is to give priority to Belarusian products," Mr. Lukashenka said.

He tasked Deputy Prime Minister Pyotr Prakapovich with looking into the matter and issuing appropriate directives.

The Belarusian leader was formerly known for his strong opposition to the existence of duty-free stores. In November 2007, he issued a presidential edict limiting the number of such stores to two: one store at Minsk National Airport and an outlet for foreign diplomats in Minsk.

When the issue was discussed at a government meeting in September 2011, Mr. Lukashenka rejected a proposal to reestablish duty-free stores at border checkpoints. He noted that an inspection had found that 60 percent of the liquor sold through duty-free stores had illegally ended up inside the country. The existence of such stores led to the emergence of criminal rings involving corrupt government officials, he added.

In January last year, Mr. Lukashenka issued an edict ordering that all duty-free stores in Belarus should be owned or co-owned by the Main Department for Services to the Diplomatic Corps and Official Delegations of the Presidential Administration's property management department.

The edict exempted domestic manufacturers from paying value-added tax on goods supplied to duty-free stores and the companies running duty-free stores were required to pay 10 percent of their proceeds into the national budget.