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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign Businesses in St. Pete Slam Draft Investment Laws

ST. PETERSBURG -- In an open letter to City Hall, the St. Petersburg International Business Association has strongly criticized the city government's new draft investment laws.

The letter called for a six-week extension for members to help the city work out a fairer, more consistent piece of legislation.

"There is a certain amount of frustration," SPIBA executive administrator Anna Kassner said. "We're offering to help rewrite the law. We're hoping that the administration will listen with more public pressure."

The association has distributed a statement outlining its case to St. Petersburg newspapers and sent a version to Governor Vladimir Yakovlev.

The foreign business organization says its suggestions were not taken into account in drafting the policy and has offered the services of SPIBA-member law firms to work with city lawyers to hammer out a new version.

SPIBA criticized the draft laws as internally contradictory and benefiting only a few large investors. The body is seeking grandfather clauses to protect investors who commit money under the legislation, and is calling for more accountability on the part of city offices charged with implementing the legislation.

Andrei Kruglov, the deputy chairman of City Hall's committee for foreign affairs, said he had received SPIBA's proposal Monday.

While he was unable to comment on it specifically, he said that the administration welcomed such feedback.

But SPIBA's request to postpone the legislation and rework it will probably not be realized, he said. Kruglov said to the best of his knowledge, the drafts will be introduced to the legislative assembly this week.

As currently written, the draft investment policy consists of three separate laws -- a law that guarantees tax breaks and advantages in renting municipal property, a law that exempts investors from local profit taxes and a law that regulates auctions for municipal property.

A tax break would be offered for businesses investing at least $50 million into production facilities before 1999.