Roin Kozaev: The Chamber of Commerce of South Ossetia is a mediator between businesses and government

Tue, 23/11/2010 - 17:09

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of South Ossetia is active valid for already eight years. During this time, it has been promoting business in the Republic, supporting entrepreneurs and commercial organizations. Roin Kozaev, the CCI Chair, told IA RES about the work being done by CCI of South Ossetia to establish effective collaboration between business and government, its goals and objectives, as well as the problems the Chamber faces.

IA "Res": What are the primary goals and challenges the Chamber of Commerce encounters in South Ossetia? What kind of services does it provide?
Roin Kozaev: The ancient Greek mythology god Mercury protected merchants and people enageged in entrepreneurship. It was his mission to help all traders, all those who worked hard to earn their living. In addition, he was a mediator between them and the other gods. The Chamber is a kind of mediator between entrepreneurs and the government, the state.
Our task is to promote trade and business in our Republic, to help entrepreneurs, to unite them, to assist them through the power structures. We have a law on the Chamber of Commerce and a charter developed. We assist in creating and developing businesses. Development of commerce and business is our primary goal.

IA "Res": Please, tell us about the CCI plans for the near future.
Roin Kozaev: As I said, we have developed a charter, there is a program for next year. The priority is given to the association of entrepreneurs of South Ossetia within the Chamber of Commerce in order to avoid the fragmentation that we are facing today. I know at least five business organizations that do not comply with their tasks. I stand for more organizations that would contribute to the development of business, but in our little Republic, success is possible only through joining forces. This is the main objective of our program.
In addition, we have a lot of agreements, both written and oral, with different organizations and Russian producers. There are many agreements with foreign entrepreneurs, who wish to enter our market to explore it. We intend to work toward developing cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce of South Ossetia and foreign organizations. We plan to take part in various international forums to engage our entrepreneurs. These forums are planned to take place in the near future in Abkhazia and Krasnodar.

IA "Res": What does the CCI membership give entrepreneurs?
Roin Kozaev: The Chamber of Commerce is an organization without which a state can hardly exist. It is a membership organization, we do not do business. There are two ways the Chamber may develop: the one applied in developed countries, where membership of entrepreneurs and commercial organizations in the Chamber is compulsory, and the one applied in Asia – a voluntary membership. We decided to adopt the Asian method, our entrepreneurs may or may not join the membership, depending on their decision. What are the benefits of the membership? First, CCI of South Ossetia has contacts with the business of Russia, any kind of business. In addition, the network of chambers of commerce located in in all cities in all regions of Russia, all linked, and any proposal that comes from a member of the CCI can find the best possible solution. Hence, there is a system of mutual support and this is a very big plus for our members. In addition, a member of the Chamber of Commerce of the RSO is in priority likst for the state order; this business is protected by the state. Generally speaking, the membership in the CCI provides a significant advantage for a businessman.

IA "Res": What are the challenges and obstacles faced by CCI in the implementation of its activities and what, in your opinion, are the ways to solve them?
Roin Kozaev: The biggest problem is the entrepreneurs themselves. It is very difficult to work with them. Once again, we are not a state organization, but self-supporting, relying on the membership fees of the entrepreneurs. They are used to get everything and give nothing. You can oftenhear them say: "Why do I need a membership in the Chamber of Commerce, if I can do everything myself and not pay any fees!"
Then, when confronted with problems, they come and ask for help from the Chamber. In this case we cannot help, since exist through membership fees.
In addition, we have a big financial problems, we need to bring the CCI to a proper level, to complete repairs in the building, purchase necessary equipment and furniture. Our offices are empty, they are not equipped. I can not hire new employees because we have no money to pay salaries. That is, without financial assistance from the state, we cannot go on. But in the future, we will contribute to the development of the economy of the Republic.

IA "Res": Does the CCI of South Ossetia have adequate functions and powers to effectively implement its tasks?
Roin Kozaev: The functions and power of the CCI are not granted by the state, as I said earlier, we simply apply the Asian method. The only function that we have is issuing of certificates that confirm the goods' country of origin. If before one should pay a lot for the the export of goods through customs in Russia, now with a granted certificate, the entrepreneur can easily transport the goods through customs. Of course, it would be good if the Chamber of Commerce was granted with public functions that would contribute to business development. We usually have the data needed for budgeting, and we could provide this information to the government. So, the state could use the Chamber of Commerce.

IA "Res": What work is done by your agency to establish effective collaboration between business and government?
Roin Kozaev: As I noted earlier, the CCI of South Ossetia is a kind of mediator between businesses and government. We always protect the interests of entrepreneurs. I regularly visit meetings with ministers and heads of various departments, their deputies, where the creation of favorable conditions for business development in South Ossetia is discussed.

IA "Res": Does the Chamber have any suggestions, including those related to legal regulations, to create an environment conducive for business and foreign economic activity of South Ossetia's entities?
Roin Kozaev: Certainly, yes, we have many proposals, including amendments to the draft law on entrepreneurship. I have submitted to the Ministry of Economic Development of South Ossetia proposals and projects relating to economic forum to be held in 2011 in Tskhinval. I submitted proposals on the preparation for the forum, expressed views on the development of the economy of South Ossetia. In order to attract investors, we must provide them with the most favorable conditions, for example, to exempt them for a couple of years from taxes. We have prepared a series of proposals on drafting the law on land development. Today 25% of the arable land is lost because of bushes.
We have suggested providing loans to state enterprises, which are falling into decay. For example, out beer brewery is idle while the montly consumption of imported beer is five tons. Meanwhile, our beer is one of the best in the world. The equipment there is outdated, the production should be revived. Beer is easy to make. All you need is hops, malt and that's it. If we plant the abandoned fields, we will earn a lot on beer. There are many examples of the kind: woodworking plant, canning factory, garment factory etc. So, we have many proposals, and we intend to work actively in this direction.

IA "Res": What kind of practical support does the Chamber of Commerce provide to South Ossetian businesses and entrepreneurs to operate in foreign markets and develop new forms of trade and economic cooperation with foreign partners?
Roin Kozaev: The only possible support that the Chamber of Commerce can provide to ntrepreneurs and businesses in South Ossetia in foreign economic activity is the issuance of certificates I mentioned before. But behind the scenes, a lot of work has been done. Much work has been done with the Customs Administration to streamline the transportation of our goods - foodstuffs, building materials, etc. Minimal taxes for transpotation of goods were agreed. We are in constant contact with our Russian colleagues, who helped us a lot.

IA "Res": What are your activities in the field of cooperation and signing of agreements with the Russian Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Chambers of Commerce in the regions and entities of the Russian Federation?
Roin Kozaev: In 2002, once the Chamber of Commerce of South Ossetia was established, we immediately signed the first international agreement with the Chamber of Commerce of North Ossetia. In 2007 we became a non-associated member of Chambers of Commerce of the Southern Federal District (SFD). During the forum in Nalchik, we were accepted as associate members of chambers of commerce of the SFD. In addition, we have prepared agreements with the Russian Chamber of Commerce required for the signing of cooperation agreement.
Julietta Kozaeva

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