Belarus has become a leader in the IT sphere in the post-Soviet space. The authorities have created a comfortable environment for those who wish to earn by writing computer programs and well support them. The experience of the neighbours might be of interest to other countries, including Russia, but to States within the former Soviet Union will have to change the policy in the sphere of high technologies development.
Export revenue from the sale of the software product abroad per capita today Belarus is ahead of such high-tech giants like USA, China and India: in the United States software for sale more than than $500 million a year, spoke on the theme of an international conference in Moscow, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Belarus in Russia Vadim senyuta.
A comparison of the amounts of the profits from software sales per capita, of course, looks a bit of a stretch, but at the same time reflects the desire of Belarus to increase the share of IT sector in the economy.
The idea is to turn Belarus into a place of production of computer programs emerged in the early 2000s a group of enthusiasts. Among the most active advocates of this idea was the former Ambassador of Belarus in the USA and Mexico Valery Tsepkalo, who during life in America is well studied practice of Silicon valley in California. He began to convince the country that in the XXI century the main productive force was the intelligence, the writing software does not require large investments in production capacity, but because almost all revenue is pure profit. Their views Tsepkalo presented in a programmatic article, “On the way to knowledge economy”, published in the Belarusian press.
In 2005, President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree on the establishment of the Minsk high technology Park (HTP), which laid down the basic principles of an innovation cluster. According to the decree, and later documents, all company-HTP resident-companies were exempted from taxes on profits, programmers are obliged to pay only 9% of the total personal income, employers ‘ contributions to the social Fund calculated based on the average salary in the country, which is several times less than that of the Park. The calculation of the Belarusian leadership was simple: most of the money from the sale of computer programs abroad will be spent in the country and overall increase the aggregate amount of the state’s economy. Belarusians do not have to reinvent the wheel when developing a tax regime focused on the experience of the United States, Singapore and other high-tech countries.
However to just get started HTP, took several years. Interfere with the inertia of thinking of many Belarusian officials, accustomed to the fact that economic growth depends solely on industry and agriculture. The people occupying high public posts, could not understand why the OEM, if it is not right to pay a portion of profits to the budget. A Park could earn only at the end of the first decade of the new century.
But in 2017 HTP by more than $1 billion in net profit. For comparison, this exceeds the total net profits of all industrial giants of the country or all individual entrepreneurs. But the important thing is that the OEM offers its employees a high salary to determine the professional choice of many young people. Today, a considerable part of the Belarusian dream students to learn to be programmers to establish their own company and register it as a resident of the Park.
The basic principle in the selection of residents was the ability of a company to produce products that are competitive on the world market. So, the HTP has created popular apps like Viber or Maps.me used by hundreds of millions of people on the planet, and the developer of the popular online game World of Tanks, Victor Kislyi became the first dollar billionaire from Belarus, by his example, giving hope to the younger generations. Today from 10 of the largest global giants in the IT sector, five are registered in the HTP mission. Belarusian programmers writing applications for Apple and Microsoft, many of which are in the top most popular of these corporations. About the quality of Belarusian computer programs and says the structure of the sale HTP: 49.1% of products are exported to Europe, 44% in the US and Canada, 4.1% in Russia and other CIS countries. HTP employs 35 thousand people and more than 450 companies, the Park has become the largest IT cluster in Central and Eastern Europe.
While Belarus is not going to stop there. A promising new business segment — work with cryptocurrencies. The country became the first former Soviet state where officially sanctioned transactions with them.
Imitators from Central Asia
The success of the Minsk HTP inspired supporters to build high-tech economy in Uzbekistan. Just six months after coming to power in June 2017, the country’s new President, Shavkat Mirziyoev, signed a decree on the establishment in Tashkent of the Innovation center named outstanding scientist of the middle Ages in Central Asia Ulugbek. For practical recommendations to the country invited the first Director of the Minsk HTP, Valery Tsepkalo. Given the geographical remoteness of Tashkent from the world of the IT-centers, the government of Uzbekistan has made the tax regime in the Centre named after Mirzo Ulugbek even more attractive to investors and programmers than for employees of OEM.
The main problem that immediately after the start, faced the Center’s administration, was the lack of qualified personnel. To address the issue created a special school for training programmers had to shift and leading universities of the country.
Today in Tashkent was settled nearly 160 high-tech companies. The world’s largest corporations have expressed a desire to use the services of Uzbek programmers. For example, an American holding Alphabet. The Center plans to reach revenues of Minsk OEMs and become one of the largest software developers in Asia.
The Russian experience
About the development of computer technologies in Russia from high tribunes say for many years. State leaders are constantly affirms the importance of the IT industry to build a modern economy. To implement his plan often tried at the regional level. In particular, in many constituent entities of the Russian Federation adopted the laws, which are a few percent decrease of ordinary profit tax of 20% for high-tech companies. At the same time, fundamental decisions about a significant decrease in all taxes, or their complete abolition, for IT is still pending. So many talented programmers and business people in this area prefer to work in foreign companies, how to pay taxes abroad.
Apart from the lack of favorable tax regime, a major obstacle to the development of Russian IT-companies was the presence of the state order for the development of computer programs. If Belarus strive to make a product that will be popular in the world, in Russia there are mostly companies that have connections in government bodies. Thanks to the right Dating they get orders for the development of services for government agencies and state-owned companies for many billions of rubles. Businessmen know that the real fortune is to obtain a contract to develop a mobile app, for example, for patients of the health system in the region. The cost of works is likely to be overvalued, but for the convenience of the interface and the reliability of the application it is unlikely that anyone will claim, leaving ordinary users to comprehend the basics of computer literacy.
Prevents the development of IT sphere in Russia and the General investment climate in the country. HTP Minsk today has contacts with companies from USA, Canada, Western Europe, China, India, Israel, but it is extremely limited cooperates with Russian programmers. The above figures on the export structure of the HTP visually testify. This despite the fact that Russia and Belarus are the Union state, in fact, have a transparent border, take all necessary legal acts on the free movement of goods, capital and labor within the Eurasian economic Union.
In accordance with the forecast of the consulting firm McKinsey, the current share of the digital economy is 3.9% of the GDP of Russia (in Belarus — about 5%), which is about three times lower than that of the leaders in the industry. Thus by 2025, experts say that information technologies can potentially increase Russia’s GDP by about 4 trillion rubles (about 4% compared to 2018). However, apparently, high-tech companies will have to achieve these results, being in equal terms with other sectors of the economy.
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