Final Word from Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Small is beautiful, goes the saying, but perhaps not if you're a Czech food processor, credit union, investment manager or simple tradesman running a business from your home. Tougher rules meant to conform to the EU, protect consumers, raise revenue and prevent tax evasion are chasing small businesses out of the market. In Jan.-Feb. alone, 24,000 sole proprietors turned in their licenses. President Václav Klaus criticized the overregulation on F1 radio and said he expects more entrepreneurs to shut down upon EU accession. Intentionally or not, the Špidla cabinet is helping big businesses to stomp out their smaller rivals. EU accession will pose a big test. The uncertainty about all the legal and tax changes will hit small businesses the most. How the government treats those who are slow to conform will say a lot about its commitment to promoting entrepreneurship.


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