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#16 - JRL 7265
RIA Novosti
July 24, 2003

MOSCOW, 24 July, 2003. /RIA Novosti analyst Valery Asriyan/-The administrative reform in Russia has at last started moving. On July 23, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree "On Measures for Conducting Administrative Reform in 2003-2004." The Russian head of state long ago made his criticism of the state machinery plain and has repeatedly talked about the need to reform it. In his state-of-the-nation address this May, Putin again raised this important subject by declaring that Russia's bureaucracy was ill prepared to draw up and implement decisions that corresponded to the country's contemporary demands. At the same time, Putin pointed out that the bureaucrats were perfectly capable of extracting so-called "administrative rent" from their position.

Putin stressed that the Russian bureaucracy still wielded enormous power, but the number of officials did not correspond to the quality of the work produced. He said that in spite of the legions of officials, the country was still suffering from a personnel crisis. Apparently, there are very few modern managers and efficient people. This was Putin's backdrop against which this vital administrative reform must be conducted.

The president expressed his firm conviction that the bureaucracy could not tame its appetites itself, but had to have definite restrictions placed on it. There must be radical cuts in the number of state bodies, Vladimir Putin said, adding that this could be done after a government commission finished an inventory of ministerial and department functions. The president's thinking can be summed up as follows: the administrative reform in the country has been dragged out for too long and fundamental new measures are needed to accelerate it.

And now the presidential decree should have the effect of a fresh impetus. It determines the priority areas for the reform. Above all, this means limiting government intervention in the economic activity of businesses, including ending excessive state regulation. Then there is the need to eradicate the situation when different executive federal bodies essentially do the same job, while self-regulating organisations systems in the economy have to be developed. The decree also speaks about organising the division of functions concerning economic regulation, supervision and control, the management of state property and the presentation of services by state organisations to citizens and legal entities. Finally, there is one more very important paragraph in the decree. It is designed to conclude the process of dividing powers between the federal bodies of executive power and local bodies of executive power in Federation constituent members, thereby optimising the activity of the territorial bodies.

In line with the decree, the Russian government must set up a commission to conduct the administrative reform, which, one might very well say, must now go on at full steam.

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