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Aušrinė Armonaitė: it is important to both attract talents from Belarus and also offer favourable conditions for long-term activities

Date

2021 05 04

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After meeting with leaders and founders of the main Belarusian startup centre Imaguru Tatjana Marynič and Anastasija Chamiankova Minister of the Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė invited the institution prosecuted by the regime to safely continue activities in Lithuania.

‘We well know the cost of freedom and it is therefore our duty to support those who are persecuted by the regime and who are still fighting for their freedom. To ensure smoother integration of Belarusian businesses to our national business ecosystem, we have prepared legislative amendments offering easier transfer of employees and their families to Lithuania. Belarusian companies could safely continue their activities in our country and at the same time contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of our national economy,’ said Minister of the Economy and Innovation Armonaitė.

The Imaguru Centre, which has been operating in Minsk for eight years, has been ordered by the Lukashenko regime to leave their premises before 30 April. Imaguru estimates that over 250 centre’s start-ups have attracted over USD 100 million of investment in recent years to Belarus and organised more than 3500 events.

The Government has approved a package of amendments to the laws presented by the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation to facilitate the transfer of a company’s employees and their family members by transferring the company’s activities or part of activities from third countries to Lithuania. On Monday, these amendments will be submitted to the Seimas.

Amendments to the Laws on Investment, Employment and Legal Status of Aliens provide that all transferred employees could apply for a residence permit in Lithuania. It would be up to the investor to decide on their suitability for work. No assessments would be made on whether their family members meet the needs of the labour market; they would in any case have the right to work in Lithuania and receive a residence permit of the same duration.

This provision would apply to companies from third countries investing in Lithuania that agree to undertake to invest at least EUR 1.45 million and create at least 20 jobs. Amendments to the laws are yet to be considered by the Seimas. In case of the Seimas approval, the amendments will enter into force on 1 June of the current year.

Amendments to the Government resolutions on exemption from customs duties and VAT duties on imports are also underway. They aim to provide that natural persons who enter Lithuania under the simplified national visa issue procedure and seek to obtain a residence permit in Lithuania could import their personal property without payment of the duty and VAT on import. Currently, only persons who already have a residence permit in Lithuania or provide a onetime guarantee from a bank or an insurance institution, which is often difficult to obtain in Belarus, may not pay such taxes.

Since the beginning of mass protests against the authoritarian regime in Belarus in August last year, a number of companies established in Belarus by its businessmen have moved to Lithuania, including US IT giant Epam Systems, founded by Belarusians, a popular ‘World of Tanks’ game creator Wargaming, Flo Health, working on a women’s health app and software companies Coherent Solutions and Godel Technologies.

Currently, about 110 Belarusian companies are interested in the possibilities to invest and move to Lithuania, 42 of which have already started relocation processes, while 36 companies are still considering about the place of relocation.