VILNIUS – The exodus of Belarusian IT companies moving to Lithuania and other neighboring countries puts pressure on the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has said.
However, she assured that the companies, which are now moving out of Belarus, would come back once “everything is changed”.
“This is great pressure on the regime, they understand that taxes go to other countries,” Tsikhanouskaya told the reporters after a meeting with Lithuania’s Economy Minister Ausrine Armonaite on Thursday.
“These IT companies are fleeing because of the regime. They will come back with pleasure when everything is changed, they don’t want to work abroad, they want to benefit Belarus,” she added.
The Lithuanian Economy Ministry has worked out legislative amendments aimed at facilitating movement to Lithuania for Belarusian businesses.
The government’s officials expect the Seimas to consider the amendments to the Laws on Investment and Employment during its spring session.
It would be much easier for the Belarusians coming to work in Lithuania to obtain a temporary residence permit once the amendments were passed, Armonaite said.
“It would be much easier to get a temporary residence permit in Lithuania, … once the investor registers and signs an agreement in Lithuania,” the minister said on Thursday.
Pursuant to the amendments submitted by the ministry, those eligible for lighter regulation will include the Belarusian companies that will conclude investment contracts with the Lithuanian government.
Such companies will have to commit themselves to invest at least 1.5 million euros in the country, to create at least 20 jobs and to pay wages equal to at least 1.5 times the average wage in a specific municipality.
Many Belarusian companies, such as EPAM Systems, Wargaming, Flo Health, Coherent Solutions and Godel Technologies, have moved to Lithuania from Belarus since the onset of protests against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko last August.
According to the data from Lithuania's foreign investment promotion agency Investuok Lietuvoje (Invest Lithuania), more than 60 Belarusian companies are currently moving their business to Lithuania or considering doing so.