The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has released the results of a joint IFC-World Bank survey of Belarusian enterprises “Business Environment in Belarus ” at a roundtable attended by high level state officials.

The survey, polled owners and top managers of 600 enterprises in six regions of Belarus and the capital city of Minsk on a number of issues that define the business enabling environment in Belarus, such as business registration, permits, licensing, certification and government inspections of businesses. The survey reflects the perceptions of Belarusian entrepreneurs of the business environment in 2003.

According to entrepreneurs some of the key constraints to their efficient operations include the following:

  •  Business registration is a time consuming and costly process. It takes an average of 62 days and US$270 (about 25% of the country’s GNI per capita) to register a business in Belarus. The registration fee doubled in 2003 compared to the previous year.
  •  The overwhelming majority of the respondents noted that licensing procedures in 2003 worsened. It took an average company 39 days and US$260 to obtain a licence.
  •  On average it takes 315 days and US$2,695 (equivalent to double the country’s GNI per capita) to complete certification procedures and 85 days and US$555 to receive approvals from boards of health for enterprises dealing with food.
  •  An average Belarusian company has to undergo 12 inspections by government authorities, lasting an average of 60 days.

Belarusian government officials attended the roundtable at which IFC and World Bank released the results of the survey. Drawing on the results of the survey the roundtable discussion focused on the steps the government needs to take to improve the business environment in the country. The government invited IFC to develop recommendations and provide assistance in improving the business enabling environment.

Andrey Tur, deputy Belarusian minister of economy comments: “As the Belarusian government shares IFC’s and World Bank’s assessment of the bottlenecks in the development of SMEs, we would like to invite IFC to jointly resolve the issue administrative barriers in Belarus.”

“IFC has been working in Belarus for more than 10 years and we know the environment in the country. At the same time IFC has been working with governments of other CIS countries on improving the business enabling environment for SMEs. Drawing on our experience, we look forward to working with the government of Belarus to create conditions for the private sector growth,” adds Ivan Ivanov, IFC project manager in Belarus.