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Monday, October 24, 2016

Will Valentina Matviyenko to make Chechnya and Dagestan, a region

The Federation Council has prepared a document on “improvement of regional policy in Russia”. This was announced by the speaker of the upper house Valentina Matvienko. The paper has already been sent to the Russian government, presidential structures and all the subjects of the Federation. The document will be finalized until July, and yet it contains the vague phrase about the creation of “economic regions”. In fact, we can observe regular, already the third attempt to reduce the number of Russia’s regions by merging them.

photo: Natalia Muslinkina

Valentina Matvienko

Talk about the fact that the Russian Federation is divided into too many regions, began immediately after the referendum on the adoption of the Constitution in 1993. Then the subjects of the Federation, there were 89, and the 89 presence of the governors and governments have hampered the country’s leadership. Moreover, many of them were extremely ineffective. In those years a number of politicians (Zhirinovsky, for example) has been proposed to reduce the number of provinces considerably, only called different numbers: sometimes the number of virtual subjects of the Federation was reduced to thirty, and sometimes up to sixteen.

One way or another, but the process of reduction went. The number of subjects was reunited: so two of the Altai region have merged into one, the Taimyr part of Krasnoyarsk region, etc. But that “etc” didn’t last long: the subjects of the Federation remained 80, and more to be reunited, no one wanted. That is, the first wave of the reunion ended.

The second wave was the division of Russia into Federal districts, President Putin. However, it is, in fact, subsided. The presidential envoys appointed, but they have a serious impact on all but Ministers of the economic block of each of the regions. “Economic macro-regions” the second attempt failed.

Now, after the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, we have 82 regions. And here the Federation Council launches the third wave of regional integration. Can it lead to success? This “MK” talked to leading economists.

— Many say that if you combine the budgets of the region’s stronger and weaker, then this will be the effect. But how to combine budgets for two different regions without political Union? I think it is impossible, — told “MK” leading researcher of the Ranepa Alexander POLYAKOV. — And how politically to unite the national republics: Chechnya, Dagestan? I don’t know. But the most important thing is that the enlargement of regions will NOT lead to equalization of the economic situation. That is, purely arithmetically, statistically it is possible to obtain some results, but really it is not adjusting the standard of living in the territories. Where there is efficient production, people live still better than in those places where it is not. Mechanical merging of regions can only help to save some costs on the regional governments to reduce one of the governors and his staff. And how much we will win? Downsized but still need to put on the Dole. So you need not to pair the regions and to create a special economic zone. By the way, the basis of territorial division, which built in the Soviet era and remains to this day, was based on production complexes. Now this system is destroyed, but in order to restore it, you first need to create zones of economic integration, and only after that to cut the regions. Look here: we are building a bridge to Crimea. Access roads to it are located in Krasnodar Krai. And it would be reasonable to allocate local industrial macrozone in the territory of both regions, to create cost-effective concept for the development of this zone. And not to merge these regions.

— Larger regions would be more equal in terms of quality of life, but then wonder what to do with the national autonomies, as they are attached to each other or to the Russian regions? — asks a rhetorical question , the former Minister of Economics of Russia Andrey NECHAEV, — Why Russia has been made a more careful experiment — the creation of Federal districts. But the presidential envoys in the districts did not get the opportunity to directly influence the economy and social sphere in each individual subject. Federal district cannot create not only emission center, but even their government. And without this how can there be a common economic policy? By this division nothing happened. And can end the success of a new attempt?

Although I understand the concern of the senators. Now there are a number of regions, which in fact went bankrupt, and they need to do something. After the regions have shifted a significant part of social spending, they got into debt. From a larger region, of course, there will be more room for maneuver. But how to unite them politically? How to combine “in one bottle” presidents of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan? It say, in these regions quite well.

— The bankruptcy of regions was the consequence of the may decrees?

— May decrees, abolishing the fiscal rule that the region can’t take more than half of it is earned, become “control shot in the head” regions. The center takes away from too many regions. This is the main problem. As a result, we have become insolvent over 80% of subjects of Federation. Although actually economically insolvent regions we have only a few: the fingers of one hand will suffice to count. And manual merging of regional budgets will not solve the problem, if from this total budget will still take everything.

“The consolidation of the regions – an extremely sensitive subject – said the “MK” head of the Board of the Foundation for civil society development Konstantin KOSTIN. – Administrative-territorial division is not just lines on a map. For humans, this small homeland, native land, with which is associated the lives of several generations of many families. And this factor cannot be underestimated. In addition, the current merge procedure is very laborious, costly and time-consuming. Of course, the question of the alignment of the budgets of the constituent entities, seeking to improve the quality of public services and incomes is especially acute. Especially now, when money became less. The high level of debt load and a stagnating economy in many regions of the most vivid markers of the distress and anxiety of the situation.

The idea of creating agglomerations, when the economically strong actors joined by poorer neighbors, and those, like a locomotive pull their economy looks very attractive. But leaves no doubt that the weak will hang weights on strong and the result will be worse everywhere.

Many, Yes, almost all the governors will be talking about the revision of tax policy and intergovernmental fiscal relations. And simply saying that more money should be left in the regions. But before 2000, when there were such a system, the situation with the development of the regions was worse.

I think the main potential in solving the problem in improving the quality of public administration at the regional level. After all, attracting investment, creating growth drivers, reasonable credit and financial policy-clear professional objectives. And it is crucial that the economic and financial units were formed not on the basis of club good friends(and in fact a conflict of interest), and on the basis of modern and transparent performance criteria”.

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