By the end of the year 2015 Estonia had over 7,000 e-residents. Several changes are planned to significantly simplify applying for e-residency with the aim of increasing the number of persons who would like to connect their lives with Estonia, either for business or other purposes. One of such changes – the possibility to open a bank account without having to be physically present at the bank – concerns not only e-residents but also everyone else.
The Chamber of Commerce carried out the annual economic survey among its members – the survey is a part of the annual survey of Eurochambres. Approximately 60,000 European entrepreneurs participated in the survey, among them 232 Estonian entrepreneurs. The majority of our entrepreneurs predict increased turnovers, larger number of employees and increased investments.
The Chamber sent to the Ministry of Finance 59 proposals for the zero bureaucracy project. Mait Palts summarised the feedback collected from entrepreneurs as follows: “Today the biggest problem is that entrepreneurs are required to submit the same data to different authorities and sometimes even multiple times – in essence it means that the data are duplicated, but entrepreneurs waste pointless time and resources on submitting the same data to different authorities. Although the ban on duplicating as a principle has been in force for already years, its implementation in reality is poor. The current situation requires more clarity and transparency. We should rely on the principle that public authorities do not ask the same data from entrepreneurs that the entrepreneurs have already sent to another public authority. There must be a change in the thinking that data would be searched from the databases that already exist and not asked from entrepreneurs. It is also important that we would start gradually moving towards not having to submit any data at all, but that the data would move automatically between systems.”
A number of proposals made by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will enter into force on 1 January. Many of these amendments will decrease administrative burden and costs for entrepreneurs. For example, small companies will be exempt from the obligation to audit packaging reports, the tax free limit of foreign business trip daily allowances will be increased to 50 euros, and the audit and inspection limits will be almost twice as high. Other important changes involve increasing of the minimum wage to 430 euros and amendments to the Accounting Act, which will simplify the rules for preparing annual reports for small companies.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication has initiated the so called zero bureaucracy project, the aim of which is to decrease administrative burden of entrepreneurs. In relation to that, the Chamber has collected a number of proposals from entrepreneurs in recent weeks.
During the Chamber’s 90th anniversary reception at the Estonia Concert Hall on 14 November, 9 people who have contributed to the development of entrepreneurship in Estonia were awarded the Chamber’s medals of honour. Among them were the former Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Chairman of the Management Board of Molycorp Silmet David O'Brock and Director of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board Marek Helm. The medals of honour were awarded for already 17th time.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication has undertaken to lead the state’s zero bureaucracy project the aim of which is to decrease the administrative burden for entrepreneurs. The state expects that entrepreneurs themselves, through their representative organisations, would set out the problems they are facing in relation to reporting, data collection or performance of bureaucratic requirements arising from the law, and would submit their proposals for decreasing the administrative burden.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has sent a draft on amendments of the Alcohol Act and Advertising Act for review to the stakeholders. With the amendments sale of alcohol and contents of alcohol advertising will be restricted.
In November Estonia will be visited by a delegation from the Dalian region in China with the aim of introducing the business opportunities in the Dalian region to Estonian IT sector companies and establishing contacts with potential new cooperation partners.
On 10 September, the European Court of Justice made a decision in case No C-266/14 in which they found that the time, which is used by employees with no fixed place of work to travel from home to the first client and from the last client to their homes, must be included in working time.
The Board of the Chamber met at the end of September and discussed, among other issues, the report of the Estonian Research and Development Council The Network and Directions of Estonian Universities, Research Institutions and Institutions of Professional Higher Education.
The Ministry of Finance has prepared a draft Income Tax Amendment Act, the main aim of which is to transpose the requirements arising from the Parent Companies and Subsidiaries Directive (Council Directive 2011/96/EU). Furthermore, it aims to eliminate the difference in the treatment of resident natural persons and non-resident natural persons in calculating and carrying forward loss yielded upon disposal of securities.
The Chamber has sent its proposals regarding the draft Public Procurements Act to the Ministry of Finance. Among other things, we made a proposal to establish additional criteria for more efficient prevention of bidding below price. For example in case of public procurements for construction works, there could be a requirement that the salaries of the employees of the sub-contractor must be at least 70% of the average of the respective sector.
The Chamber of Commerce has made a proposal to the Ministry of the Environment and the Environmental Committee of the Riigikogu to exempt smaller companies from the new obligation to audit their packaging reports. The average cost of auditing is 800-2000 euros, thus it is a significant additional cost for smaller companies.. The Chamber found that so far there have been no analyses on if the gains from auditing is proportional with the increased administrative burden and costs of companies. Both the Minister of the Environment and Chairman of the Environmental Committee of the Riigikogu agreed with the proposal of the Chamber.