Belarus is preparing for a big revolution in IT sphere. Crucial changes have already been announced by Alexander Lukashenko himself – the country is serious about making fundamental shifts in laws to attact global tech giants.
The draft decree, that should turn Belarus into an IT-country, has been submitted to state bodies for consideration.
And here are 9 things it may soon change.
1. Hi-Tech Park Belarus will be open to new companies
The decree will give access of HTP’s residency to much more companies than now.
In particular, product companies, investment funds (including venture capital funds), and educational projects in IT sphere.
The decree will IT companies to carry out any business activities aimed at monetizing software products.
For example, earlier, neither Google, nor Facebook could become residents of HTP as they receive revenue from advertising and not from selling software. Draft decree contains the provision that lifts this limitation.
2. Decree sets legal basis for driverless car technology
This year HTP’s tops have met with representatives of Uber and Gett. In both cases, there were discussions about R&D centres in Belarus.
Hence, the decree will create the necessary legal basis.
Moreover, it has transpired that another law might allow driverless cars of level 3 cars on Belarusian roads.
3. No currency flows control for HTP’s residents
The decree is suppossed to lift many restrictions regarding financial operations for IT companies like exchange controls, restrictions on the movement of capital, and others.
A similar thing had been done in Israel where tech industry soared afterwards.
4. Breakthrough in IT education
The decree provides for the creation of conditions for various forms of IT education.
HTP residents would be able to provide educational services, including in English. Functions of the Ministry of Education in the IT sphere are transferred to the HTP’s administration.
Big part of income from residents’ fees will be invested in tech education at schools and universities.
5. Investment funds and venture capital funds will be welcome
International investment funds are eyeing Belarus and are waiting for changes in the legislation.
Some of the measures that will enable their coming are included in the draft decree.
6. New immigration policy – IT Hong Kong for Slavic world
While Baltic states are launching start-up visas to lure Belarusian programmers and start-up founders, the draft decree aims to turn Belarus into an “IT Hong Kong for the Slavic world”.
It will create favourable conditions for the arrival of Russian and Ukrainian companies by making it easier for foreign IT specialists to get residence permits and long-term start-up visas.
7. Elements of English law to step up investment
The decree will introduces separate institutes of English law that will stimulate investment activities.
In particular, it will bring in the possibility to conclude shareholder agreements, option agreements, investment partnerships, convertible loans, non-competition agreements with employees.
8. Blockchain and crypto-currencies go legal
Crypto-currencies and tokens, based on the blockchain technology, will be put into civil circulation.
HTP residents would be able provide crypto-exchange services, attract financing through ICO, use crypto-currencies and tokens in civil circulation.
In the long term, major mining farms might be created in Belarus.
9. New jobs and tax revenues
At present 30,000 IT employees of the HTP help the country earn about $1 billion annually.
All of the above gives hopes of a two-three-fold increase in the number of specialists and a corresponding rise in tax revenues.