What caused this decision? We want to help out the state because hopefully two sets of clamps bite harder than just one. We want to inform the public hoping that this ends the silence of the bystanders * (See a list of companies below)
Clamp down together, longer and harder
Lately, mainstream media published the news that the Tax and Customs Board would crack down on the Top 50 tax debtors and initiate long and expensive bankruptcy proceedings:
- The goal is not to get money back – because it is a dead end. Most of the companies involved have already been squeezed dry to the last drop.
- The Tax and Customs Board has a very noble aim – to clean up the business landscape. To do that, the Board will bring time-consuming and costly bankruptcy proceedings against scheming ‘businessmen’ and un-co-operative executives shying away from debts.
It looks like it is time to cry with joy: ‘Great, the Tax and Customs Board will set things straight!’ So why am I not overjoyed at the news?
Trade ban that does not ban
Unfortunately, as an entrepreneur and citizen I cannot be convinced that a trade ban with its short duration (only till the end of bankruptcy proceedings) will change anything in the long run.
- A person’s trade ban is deleted from the e-Business Register when the company is deleted – when the bankruptcy proceedings end. Since the ban is placed on a private person, it falls in the category of private information. After the deletion of the company and the person’s trade ban from the e-Business Register, any person will personally (and for obvious reasons) make sure that this private information is deleted from everywhere on the vast expanses of the Internet, forever.
- In our imagination, we can race ahead in time – the more such trade bans that are deleted after the bankruptcy proceedings are applied, the more likely the chance for repeated trade bans. The current dissolution of business entities works the same way. I came, I saw, I did, I took, I threw away, I’m off for the next round.
So, the trade ban in its present format does not work. Then what would help clean up the business landscape?
The simplest route would be to introduce changes to regulations that would balance out the entrepreneurs’ rights and obligations.
Here, I must admit to the biggest failure of my working life: for the last two years, as a founding member of the Estonian Creditors Association, I have met countless civil servants on higher and lower positions in the state apparatus, presented analyses of the economic environment, put forward proposals for solutions etc, but in vain. These wheels grind unbearably slowly for me.
The untapped power of silent bystanders
* In the much-discussed school/workplace bullying the term ‘silent bystanders’ is used to denote those who witness bullying but do not react either with approval or disproval, but passively allow bullying to continue. Here, the ill-meaning debtor is the bully and the creditor loaning money in good faith is the victim. In business, we are all inadvertently silent bystanders, every individual as an entrepreneur or client, because it seems like ‘there’s nothing I can do about it’.
I stopped being a silent bystander because I have the opportunity and therefore the responsibility to speak up. My tool is the whole of Inforegister’s business media as an innovative sanctions mechanism. Let the state wheels grind at their own pace, as they wish, if they wish.
We have done so already, through the Inforegister environment and the Estonian Creditors Association, but now we will go further than just clients or members of the Association.
Inforegister will give all of its vital information in the form of business media articles to the public use. I trust with all my heart that the society will help itself against unfair entrepreneurship – when all silent witnesses find their voice and voice their opinions – with their money.
Every single one of us can influence what is going on. As a citizen or an entrepreneur, take interest in the person or company that you trade with, and take all available information into account.
All we need to do now is take these 50 private sector debtors, take their economic activities to pieces in order to make the hidden patterns clear, and publish the information to creditors and the whole society.
We have got the ball rolling by opening up the business media channel and we will keep on going. But right now, here are for You to see the TOP 50 PRIVATE SECTOR DEBTORS
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