#14 - JRL 7251
July 16, 2003
THE GROWTH GROUP
A new working group will tackle the task of doubling Russia's GDP
Author: Konstantin Smirnov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
PRESIDENTIAL AIDE IGOR SHUVALOV STARTED SETTING UP A WORKING GROUP YESTERDAY. IT WILL INCLUDE CABINET MINISTERS, PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION STAFF, REPRESENTATIVES FROM BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, POLITICAL PARTIES AND SOME PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS.
Presidential aide Igor Shuvalov started setting up a working group yesterday. President Vladimir Putin had spoken of the need to create this group on July 11. It will include Cabinet ministers, presidential administration staff, representatives from both houses of parliament, political parties and some public organizations, including the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. They will have to agree on ways and means of doubling the GDP.
The president's proposal to create a working group on doubling the GDP, headed by Igor Shuvalov, came as a surprise to many. Everybody thought that Shuvalov, former Cabinet chief-of-staff, was meant to work on administrative reforms in his new job with the presidential administration. However, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov has managed to keep control of the most important process in government reforms. Apparently, the prime minister will sign a decree appointing Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin as chairman of the administrative reforms commission.
The idea of creating Shuvalov's group appeared on May 16, the very same day as the president's annual address to the Federation Assembly. Voloshin, Surkov, Illarionov and Shuvalov agreed that nobody was in really overseeing the implementation the goals stated in the president's annual addresses. The only solution would be to ensure victory over poverty by doubling the GDP (this was the main point in the president's address). However, it is necessary to monitor GDP growth more closely, almost every day. The Kremlin administration decided that the Cabinet can't do it alone; not because of the prime minister's notorious over-caution, although he believes that real reforms only show a real effect over a period of years, but because GDP growth is actually the work of the business sector. The Kremlin, the Cabinet, the parliament, ambitious political parties and organizations, and industry groups ought to help the business sector in this.
Moreover, the question concerned not only monitoring the activity of various structures. The president said at the last Kremlin meeting: "We are unlikely to be unanimous on all issues, but we will have to reach agreement on the basic approaches to the problem. We should develop a common position, if we want to develop our own country."
It became known yesterday that the outlines of Shuvalov's group had already been determined. The Communist Party has delegated Sergei Glaziev; Fatherland - All Russia is sending Andrei Kokoshin, Gennady Kulik and Georgy Boos; the Union of Right Forces is sending Vladimir Mau; the government is sending Herman Gref. The Strategic Developments Center, where Gref's former deputy Elvira Nabiullina now works, will be the working group's main location. The personal representative of the prime minister could be Mikhail Kopeykin or Oleg Buklemishev, the deputy Cabinet chiefs-of-staff. In addition to Igor Shuvalov, Andrei Illarionov will join the group from the Kremlin administration (by the way, it is said that Illarionov aimed to chair the working group).
The group managed to agree yesterday on the "points of growth" which should ensure that the GDP is doubled. Igor Shuvalov and his new colleagues will have to deal with compulsory medical insurance, pension reforms, mortgages, creation of a special economic zone in Kaliningrad, and even the aviation industry. At the same time, military reforms are a priority (Kokoshin's ideas can be useful in this case).
The choice of "points of growth" is not only determined by their value in contributing to GDP growth, but by the prospects of agreement being reached between working group members on a common approach. For example, Alexander Voloshin and Sergei Glaziev take a great interest in the idea of mortgages as a multiplier of growth in some sectors of industry related to construction.
The results of the work done by Shuvalov's group will be clear in spring - on the eve of the presidential elections. Vladimir Putin will need to present some kind of business plans for all the projects. Those plans which Putin decides to be sufficiently developed will be implemented by the authorities during his second term as president. People who don't agree with these projects will be in a political cul- de-sac. They will be called opponents of the battle against poverty.
(Translated by Gregory Malutin)