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SARANSK, January 16 (Itar-Tass) —— President Dmitry Medvedev said he was against sweeping business inspections but admitted that their mechanism could be corrected for the food and public catering sectors.
“I am not against corrections using our experience, especially when it comes to surprise inspections at food or public catering enterprises, but this must be done reasonably so as not to going back to where we were before,” the president said at a meeting of the State Council Presidium in Mordovia, on Monday, January 16.
“When surprise inspections begin everywhere, they will lead only to one thing: the enrichment of the inspecting bodies through bribes. We all know that this measure [to reduce the number of business inspections] was of an anti-corruption nature,” he said.
Some governors had suggested going back to surprise inspections. The current law requires inspectors to notify businesses of the coming inspection 72 hours prior.
“This allows dishonest entrepreneurs to prepare and ensure compliance with sanitary legislation only for the duration of an inspection,” Kabaradino-Balkarian leader Arsen Kanokov said.
As a result, three serious outbreaks of intestinal infection were registered in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, affecting 534 people.
Medvedev said earlier that the easing of control over business was justified.
“I do not think that we have overdone it too much, I mean the easing of control,” Medvedev said.
“In some cases certain organisations can be audited once every three years, but an audit organisation can show up if there is a complaint and such the blood out,” the president said.
“On the whole, bureaucratic pressure remain very strong and needs to be reduced,” he said.
A federal law signed by Medvedev earlier this year aims to improve the system of governmental audit /supervision/ and municipal audit, as well as to consistently reduce administrative barriers in the field of entrepreneurship.
The law requires unscheduled field inspections by governmental audit /supervisory/ and municipal audit bodies to be approved by prosecutors with regard to all businesses without exception. An unscheduled field inspection of legal entities or individual entrepreneurs may be carried out on the grounds provided for in Clause 2 a, b, Article 10 (2) by governmental audit /supervisory/ and municipal audit bodies after obtaining an approval of the prosecutor's office at the place where such legal entities or individual entrepreneurs operate.
Before the law such an approval was required only for unscheduled inspections of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs falling into the category of small and medium-sized business, which puts big companies at a disadvantage.
The new version of the law will apply to all business entities without exception.
Last year, prosecutors rejected one in two requests for unscheduled business inspections of small and medium-size businesses.
“In the majority of cases, requests for inspections of business entities and entrepreneurs were made by subdivisions of Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare, the Emergencies Ministry, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Control (Rosselkhoznadzor), the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, and the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision, of which 33 to 62 percent were turned down,” the Prosecutor General's Office said.
“Prosecutors detected more than 27,600 violations of the law during inspections carried out by supervisory authorities. In order to remedy them, more than 6,500 determinations and over 1,400 warnings were issued, disciplinary penalties were initiated against 3,141 persons, and 13 criminal cases were opened,” it said.
Prosecutors found more than 12,200 unlawful regulatory acts issued by authorities of all levels in 2009.
“The measures taken by prosecutors have in general a positive effect on the work of supervisory bodies and eventually reduce administrative pressure on business. This work will continue,” the Prosecutor General's Office said.
The number of small and medium-size inspections has decreased almost 20 times in Russia after prosecutors were given new functions requiring their authorisation of such inspections.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regretted that work to reduce administrative barriers was sabotaged by certain officials in ministries, in regions and municipalities. “Our federal agencies are so creative that if one blanket decision is made, they immediately come up with a dozen their own ones,” he said.