#12 - JRL 7130
April 3, 2003
NO ONE WANTS THE ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS
...before the presidential election
The debate over state administration reforms continues
Author: Olga Redichkina, Svetlana Ivanova
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
TOP CIVIL SERVANTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS ADMIT THAT THEY MAY BE INITIATED ONLY AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN 2004. THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WANT TO "MAKE THE WORK LESS EFFECTIVE BECAUSE OF STRUCTURAL RESHUFFLES." THE PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION IS STUCK IN DEBATES WITH THE DUMA.
Acting on the president's order to set up a concept of the administrative reforms, apparatus of the government and the Economic Development Ministry studied 500 standard acts and identified over 5,000 functions of the executive branch at the federal level alone. These figures were revealed yesterday by Igor Shuvalov, head of the government apparatus, at a roundtable conference on "Reorganization of governance" organized by the Supreme School of Economics.
"The worst problem, in our view, it is that it is hard for ministries and departments to give up any functions. Refusing to abandon the functions they are already supposed to perform, ministries and departments do their best to justify the necessity of additional ones," Shuvalov complained. "They will have to abandon some functions all the same, because no structural reorganization can be effective without reduction of excessive functions." According to Shuvalov, this painful phase will last until the end of the year when there is going to be "a document that will enable the new government appearing in the wake of the presidential election to get down to work immediately, with a new structure and new functions." "We do not want to make our work less effective because of structural reshuffles," Shuvalov concluded.
Dmitry Orlov, Deputy Director of the Political Techniques Center, views Shuvalov's speech as "a statement reiterating that reorganization of the government will be gradual the way Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov wants it, and not in accordance with the logic of the president demanding alacrity." "Shuvalov doesn't give any new figures. We had known what he said yesterday a year ago... It is hardly surprising. Everyone knows after all that if the reorganization is initiated, it is going only after the president's triumph in the election," the political scientist said.
Dmitry Medvedev, Senior Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration, also promises to have the package of the civil service legislation ready by late 2003. The framework draft law was adopted in the first reading in January. It is specific laws that have to be forwarded to the Duma now - on military, civil, and law enforcement service. When the legislation is adopted, Medvedev said, realization of pilot projects will begin "in order to test the new legislation." It will take another year at least.
Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration, may be in for a nasty surprise from the Duma. On April 4, lawmakers may turn down the laws on reorganization of regional and municipal government bodies in the second reading. The Duma wants an answer from the government on how much money regional and local budgets will have after the reorganization and from what sources exactly. The government has not yet forwarded appropriate amendments to the Budget and Tax codes, even though the president made it plain that the legislation should not be adopted without the amendments.
Galina Kurlyandskaya of the amendments drafting team says that the amendments are actually ready, but lack specific figures. Kozak admits the existence of the dilemma - either boost the volume of financial assistance or give the territories their own revenue sources. "The first option is more socialist," Kozak mused. "It is more fair because the tax base is spread among the regions unevenly. On the other hand, this option doesn't stimulate the local authorities into developing their own economies. The second option does include the necessary stimuli but choosing it will compromise implementation of state's obligations in the regions."
Orlov is confident that "it is not going to be a system of estimates like in the Soviet Union or in the Russian Empire before it. The president lacks the desire or, actually, the ability for that." At the same time, the political scientist says that "neither the Kremlin nor the government know as yet how the regions will be 'equalized'".