In special economic zones, the list of permitted activities is expanding and the procedure for obtaining resident status is simplified
At a government meeting on Thursday, a bill was approved on the partial unification of the types of special economic zones (SEZ) – by combining industrial and production and technology-innovative zones. The document also contains rules on simplifying the procedures for obtaining the status of a resident of the zones. Previously sounded ideas about granting new tax benefits in the SEZ were not included in the final version of the project.
The bill on reforming the SEZ, on which the Ministry of Economy has been working since 2020, has reached the consideration of the government – as Kommersant was told at the White House, the document was approved at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. The project simplifies the classification of SEZs, which are currently divided into four types: port, tourist and recreational, industrial and industrial, and technological innovation. Now in Russia there are 42 SEZs, in which about 1 thousand residents work – their investments are estimated at 632 billion rubles.
Initially, the Ministry of Economy proposed to leave only one specialized type of zones – ports, and to combine the rest. In the course of work on the project, the department decided to leave tourist and recreational zones as an independent species in order to personalize measures to support their residents as part of the development of tourism. Thus, industrial and technology-innovative types of SEZs will be combined. This is due to the fact that the boundaries between them began to blur – in 2011, it was allowed to conduct technical and innovative activities in industrial production zones.
Another part of the innovations concerns the simplification of the procedure for obtaining the status of a SEZ resident – for example, when applying for a business plan, it will be possible to replace it with a simplified form – an investment project passport.
The term for obtaining resident status is also reduced – from 40 to 15 days. In addition, the Ministry of Economy clarifies that the list of permitted activities in the SEZ is expanding – due to a part of excisable products. “On the territory of the zones it will be possible to produce and process methane and liquefied hydrocarbon gas,” the department explains.
Some of the proposals were not included in the reviewed version of the bill, primarily on the introduction of additional benefits. The Ministry of Economy proposed to return preferential rates of insurance premiums (14% instead of 30%) for individuals employed in new jobs. They were valid for residents of technology-innovative and clustered tourist and recreational zones in 2011-2019, after which the rate was gradually increased from 14% to 28%. The department abandoned this idea six months ago, explaining that most of the residents are small and medium-sized businesses, which can already enjoy a preferential rate of 15%.
The appearance of new benefits was not welcomed by the Ministry of Finance, although market participants insisted on its necessity.
Another unaccounted for initiative is the zeroing of the federal part of income tax for five years for all residents of the SEZ (this is 2 points from the 20% rate, the current preferences apply specifically to the regional part). As explained in the Ministry of Economy, “all the rules establishing additional new tax benefits for SEZ residents have been excluded, preferential rates for insurance premiums are also not provided – the current version of the bill involves only technical amendments to the Tax Code related to the reduction of SEZ types.”