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Putin addresses officials with mild criticism; harsh decisions may follow

December 24, 2013, 17:30 UTC+3 24
1 pages in this article

MOSCOW, December 24 (Itar-Tass World Service) - In the last days of the outgoing year Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed government members and other senior officials in the regions for not doing enough to implement his May 2012 decrees. Putin then had just taken office as Russia’s president for a third time. Pretty soon he came out with a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing the rates of the country’s social and economic development. In fact, he formulated a national development strategy.

Last Monday Putin told the State Council only one target of all had been met thus far - pay rises in all branches of the education system. The others - for the reform of education, the upgrade of the housing and utilities sector and higher labour productivity - still remain to be achieved. The president called for bridging the gap in 2014 in the context of much tighter budget discipline.

According to the decrees, Putin said investment in the economy by 2015 should exceed 25% of the GDP, and by 2020 a total of 25 million highly productive jobs are to be created or upgraded.

The problem with implementing the presidential decrees in regions stems from the inability to properly arrange priorities and also the officials’ habit to simulate real work,” experts polled by the Itar-Tass analysis centre have been saying.

“The presidential decrees demand the fundamental reorganization of the managerial apparatus, capable of influencing the quality of decisions being made. These decisions are to turn the economy away from the model based on high incomes from the export of energy resources to intensive development. There must be economic growth achieved at the expense of new products and goods that would be able to take new niches on the market,” says the chief of the general political sciences chair at the Higher School of Economics, Leonid Polyakov.

The analyst said that the positions outlined in the president’s May decrees are rather complicated and tight and coping with this ambitious task will not be easy at all.

“But if it is left as it is, there will be no development,” he warned. “The package of the president’s May decrees are a strategy of national development.”

Polyakov believes that for the proper implementation of the May decrees there has to be persistency and the highest benchmarks should be set.

“Even if the goals fail to be achieved within the identified deadlines, a greater part of the road is to be left behind. True, one-hundred percent accomplishment is a goal to be sought by all means, of course, but anything can happen. Maximalism is a good incentive. It is far better than a conservative scenario and understated targets, which by no means encourage officials to excel at work,” he said.

At the State Council’s session Putin called on the civil service officials and members of the business community to join the efforts of creating outpacing development territories in the Far East and East Siberia.

“Preferences and support are very desirable not just for the enterprises located east of Lake Baikal,” the managing director of the Octopus company, Maria Ginosian, told the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta. In choosing a site for a future industrial facility business people are confronted with an eon of problems. For instance, in Moscow and its environs there is abundant workforce and a large sales market, but the lease of land is very expensive.

Ginosian also has this point to make:

“Some of the enterprises that open business in technoparks are foreign. In many cases it is foreign nationals that first build them and then take the created jobs, which is not good. The negative effect is similar Russian plants that lack a technopark’s support at the initial stage often prove uncompetitive and go out of business.

A member of the expert council at the Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies, Aleksei Zudin, has told the Itar-Tass political analysis centre in an interview that “The May decrees largely concern the social sphere. By tradition Russian bureaucrats see it as a marginal affair, the last in line of those deserving attention. As the results of the State Council’s session indicate, such attitude is quite common of the federal authorities and of the regional ones.”

Zudin believes that those who continue to defy presidential instructions will be brought to account. “Vladimir Putin’s style has one very special feature - his manner of expression is very reserved, but the decision he makes are very tough.”

The vice-president of the Centre for Strategic Communications, Dmitry Abzalov, says that the managerial apparatus in the social sphere should undergo fundamental revision.

“Most officials are in the habit of working the old ways, pointing to financial constraints as an excuse and simulating activity. The tragedy is nobody cares to act on the presidential decrees. Everybody just pretends to be working. This kind of approach utterly discredits the idea of May decrees and it has to be urgently corrected.”

Also, the expert pointed out that the president’s May decrees were still not backed up by regulatory and legal documents and by-laws: “The work of ministries and agencies should be speeded up. To my mind there are some subjective reasons that have prevented the implementation of the May decrees to the full. Only more effective governance can tap the necessary financial resources. It is a matter of professionalism. The demand for a high level of professionalism has taken shape. The president said so outright,” Abzalov said.

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