Rumas: Belarus, Russia will iron out all differences over integration

Belarus and Russia will iron out all differences over roadmaps attached to their draft action program for deeper economic integration, Prime Minister Siarhiej Rumas told reporters in Minsk on Wednesday, speaking on the sidelines of an international conference.

The prime minister confirmed that around half of the 31 roadmaps had already been fully agreed and were ready to be signed “if no new developments occur before the end of November.”

“There are unresolved differences over a number of roadmaps, including over oil, gas, power engineering. But there are no issues there that cannot be resolved,” he said, adding that the differences were expected to be ironed out at a session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Belarus and Russia scheduled for November 19.

“My Russian counterpart, Dmitry Anatolyevich [Medvedev], and I have agreed to go over all these roadmaps and try to resolve as many existing differences as possible,” said Mr. Rumas, adding that Minsk and Moscow had managed to iron out similar disagreements in the past.

“I think we will find solutions,” he said. “If we don’t, the presidents will give us bad grades for our work and will certainly find solutions.”

Mr. Rumas announced that agreeing a roadmap for the adoption of a uniform Tax Code was the toughest task. “The countries have developed their tax regulations independently and making them uniform over a short period, adopting the best that each country has is technically a very difficult job,” he explained.

There is a far lower tax burden on businesses in Russia than in Belarus, so the adoption of Russian tax rates by Belarus would be a “blessing” for the latter’s economic entities, said Mr. Rumas. If that is the case, however, Belarus will see a drop in budget revenue, he warned.

“Discussions with the Russian Federation focus rather on how Belarus will be offsetting the revenue drop, so that it does not have a bad impact on the economy,” he said.

The prime minister stressed that Belarus would sign the roadmaps only if its national interests were taken into account.