Blog: Paper, paper, everywhere!

There are many points of contention I have with the state regarding regulations. But the most egregious is the paper burden placed on companies.

(Source: Jana Liptáková)

In my previous blog, I described how I run my business in Slovakia. But I omitted some of the more annoying aspects concerning rules and regulations. I need to vent some frustration over the ridiculous business practices with which I – and every other businessperson in Slovakia – must contend.

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Read also: Blog: Running a business in Slovakia is not for the faint of heart Read more 

It seems that Slovakia has one leg firmly planted in the 21st century, while the other maintains a toe-hold somewhere in the 1950s. As the country moves towards electronic information, it continues an aberrant love affair with paper. The advent of modern technology in Slovakia hasn’t reduced the use of paper; it has just duplicated the information into yet another form.

Let me start with what the manufacturer refers to as a “fiscal printer.” This is a machine that prints receipts for customers, and records this information for accounting purposes. A glorified adding machine, I was taken aback by the 250 € price tag for this thermal printer. Its serial number also had to be registered with the tax office, which the seller kindly did on my behalf.

Once programmed, by tapping “1” followed by the PLU key, the machine correctly records the sale of a large draft beer at 2,00 €. By tapping “2 * 98”, the machine records 1,00 €, the city tax for two persons one night. There are ninety-nine available PLUs.

Each day we must print out the daily fiscal report that shows, among other things, the amount of cash and credit card payments we took in the previous day. These daily reports are then pasted into the kniha uzávierok, which we must legally be prepared to surrender to the tax authorities at any moment. Once a month, we must also print the monthly fiscal report, an unwieldly printout that we send to the accountant. In addition to these printed reports, the machine also stores this information on a memory card which, again, we must legally be prepared to surrender to the tax authorities at any moment.

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My obvious question is this: if all this information is stored on a chip, why am I required to print out a daily report and tape it into the kniha uzávierok? It is a duplicative and time-consuming process that really needs to end.

The icing on the cake: I asked my brigádnik to print a report on the amount of city tax we took in for 2016 so I could pay this to the village. After some research, I was told the machine cannot provide such a report. The information is sitting there on the chip, but it is for all practical purposes unobtainable. My only recourse was to download the data from the chip onto my computer and pay a programmer to read and format the data into a spreadsheet. What a system!

Next topic: alcohol. I buy alcohol primarily from two distributors. In addition to retaining receipts (which I also scan and upload onto our server), I am required to write down each item purchase in a separate booklet, including the state control number, product, distributor, purchase date, quantity, price, etc. Why can’t they just ask for my receipts? I would even happily give them electronic access the subfolder on the server containing the electronic copies. No, they want to torture me with tedious and duplicative tasks that serve no real purpose.

My final rant pertains to the loathed kniha ubytovaných. This is the book, registered with the obecný úrad, where I must record myriad information on each adult who stays in the penzión. This includes their first, last, and maiden names, birthdate, identification number (which imbeds their birthdate!), full address, and the dates they stayed, all which the guests must sign to prove they were actually here. I am also required to report non-EU guests to the Foreign Police Office within three days of their departure. Looking for a criminal? Sorry, they left three days ago. To me, this requirement is reminiscent of the Czechoslovakian police state I encountered in the 1980s.

There are many points of contention I have with the state regarding regulations. But the most egregious is the paper burden placed on companies. How will we ever be able to help propel Slovakia into the 21st century with such antiquated business practices?

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