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FC speaker says regions need powers, resources for effective management

November 17, 2011, 6:24 UTC+3
Medvedev instructed the Federation Council to study the question of distributing power between the federal, regional and municipal authorities
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MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— Regions need powers and resources for effective management, Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko said.

“If we want to raise the responsibility of the regional authorities, let’s give them resources, possibilities and resources for effective management of their regions, and then we can call them to account, whereas now we hold governors responsible for everything but we have not given them enough powers,” Matviyenko said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta to be published on Thursday, November 17.

The Federation Council’s proposals concerning decentralisation of power were handed over on November 2 to the governmental commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

“I think we joined in this work quite timely, seizing the initiative,” Matviyenko said. “We collected suggestions from all regions and studied them very carefully. There was a great many of them and they were different, sometimes controversial. Our task was to sort all this out and draw up the final conclusions.”

Only the first stage has been finished. The Federation Council will continue working with the Kozak commission. After conceptual approaches have been approved and adopted, “we will raise the question of abolishing a large number of federal bodies’ representative offices in regions,” the speaker said.

In some regions, there are as many of them as 70, plus over 160 territorial ones. “I was a governor for eight years and I want to say that sometimes you can’t understand what all these structures do. Some 400,000 civil servants and representatives of federal ministries and agencies are working in regions. What for?” Matviyenko said.

“If the proposed ideology is adopted,... inter-budgetary relations will have to be changed. This is our firm condition that all powders to be delegated to certain levels of government should have permanent sources of funding,” she said.

The final document drafted by the Federation Council consists of three sections. The first contains a list of 35 powers that regions think should be handed over to the federal government. Twenty of them were delegated to regions over the last several years.

The second section contains powers that should be transferred from the federal government to regions. There are 44 of them.

The third section deals with delimitation of powers and responsibilities between regions and municipalities.

The final report on the transfer of executive powers from the federal government to regions will be submitted to the president by December 1, 2011.

Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said that the report would be coordinated with the working group on financial and tax issues and inter-budgetary relations.

An interim report has so far been submitted to the president. In it, the working group supported the transfer of supervisory functions in the fields sanitary-epidemiological and veterinary control, cadastral registration and valuation of real estate, as well as state registration of rights to real estate to regions and local administrations.

In addition, supervisory functions in the field of civil defence and protection of the population in emergency situations have also been transferred to regions.

Kozak stressed that the transfer of powers “should be finished as quickly as possible” in order to determine the structure and composition of the government by next May, depending on which functions will be retained by the federal authorities and which will be delegated to regions.

Proposals concerning redistribution of powers between the federal and regional authorities will necessitate changes in inter-budgetary relations, Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko said earlier.

President Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Federation Council to study the question of distributing power between the federal, regional and municipal authorities.

“We will not be guided by the ‘take as much power as you want’ principle. What is important is to redistribute powers to those levels of government where they will be exercised mote effectively. And this means a transfer of some powers to the federal level and vice versa from the federal to the regional and municipal levels,” Matviyenko said.

“A hasty transfer of powers to the municipal level, including those in the field of healthcare, resulted in a situation where these powers were not exercised for lack of funding,” she recalled.

“All powers must be backed up by permanent sources of funding, and the proposals to be worked out will necessitate changes in inter-budgetary relations,” the speaker said.

“Unfortunately, inter-budgetary relations today to not motivate regions to expand their tax bases and increase budget revenues, as they often depend on the ability of a certain leader to push its course through. It must not be like this. There must be a single method that takes into account specific features of regions,” Matviyenko said.

The transfer of some of the budget powers to regions and municipalities will reduce the share of the federal budget by 0.5-1 trillion roubles, Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich said earlier.

“The idea is to make the decision, based on the experience of the last three years, to transfer a part of powers to lower levels of the budget system and transfer tax revenues to the same levels as well,” the aide said.

“In this case the share of the federal budget will decrease, I think, by about 5 percentage points, which means about half a trillion roubles. These are large amounts, not just some token changes,” Dvorkovich said.

In the his message on the budget policy in 2012-2014, Medvedev said redistribution of budget powers between federal, regional and local authorities would be an important stimulus for economic growth in Russia.

“The questions of achieving sustainable rates of economic growth, economic modernisation and targeted aid to the population cannot be solved without the participation of Russian regions and municipalities,” the president said.

“Regional and local authorities should have more possibilities to influence the investment climate and solve social questions. But they need a strong financial basis for that. Proposals should be drafted by December 1, 2011 on how decentralise the powers, including in the tax and inter-budgetary ones, between the federal, regional and local levels of government,” Medvedev said.

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