Local government should be not only a form of self-organization, but a public service
6 Dec 2013, 19:40
Text: Peter Akopov
The popular front has suggested Vladimir Putin to consider the possibility of changes in the law on local self-government. Looks like it’s time to accept the fact that to find a balance between the amount of authority and resources to local authorities in reality hampered by the lack of a unified system of government.
The popular front has proposed to consider changing the law on local self-government in order to give him the necessary power – this was discussed Thursday during Vladimir Putin’s participation in the “Forum actions” and on the eve of this veterans topic discussed in one of the sections.
The reason for its consideration was not so much the approaching anniversary of the Basic law and the 150th anniversary of the decree of Alexander II on the Zemstvo in Russia as a real need to finally decide on what model we are developing local self-government. The centre is forced to constantly engage in the redistribution of powers and finances between the state and municipal authorities, and so we cannot say that it has found a working formula.
“We 10 years ago took the 131st Federal law, in accordance with the Constitution formally distinguished between municipal authorities and the state, – says CEO of the Institute of priority regional projects Nikolay Mironov. On the other hand, a clear separation of powers has not been as effective financial support of these powers”.
The local government did not take place neither in the financial nor administrative sense. And it’s not in the malice of the Federal government, seeking whatever was not to give up powers and finances closer to the people. It has long been clear that inherent in the Constitution, the principles of complete separation of local government from state power have become one of the most unfortunate innovations of the new Basic law. At the same time, while some of the “boys in short pants” laid the Foundation of the unfair privatization, and other “civilizing” deideologization not only Russia, but and quietly, the rumble of tank guns) dismembered a single vertical of power.
State power in Russia is not only divided into two levels – Central and regional, but for the first time in our history ended at the level of the Federation. Below, it began the power of the local, not only does not written in the vertical of power, but generally are not public authorities. Local government, which is considered both a form of self-organization of society, that is civil society, and grassroots level public authority that exists by itself. It is Autonomous and not accountable to anyone – in Russia, a country built from the top down (as opposed to, for example, Switzerland or the United States, created as a Union of States or municipalities, or the German länder were created as a Union of cities), is simply absurd.
This principle not only prevents the management of a vast country or in the urgent political task of clearing all the levels of government corruption and the new personnel policy (providing for consecutive passing of all stages of a management structure), – most importantly, it is inconvenient for citizens. People always perceive the government as a whole – and he doesn’t care what he does, and what does the Governor, the municipality or the government. The government should be efficient and effective, but its actual division into two Autonomous, independent from each other creates a lot of problems for the functioning of the government itself, and thus eventually for all citizens. The head of the local self-government is not representative of the public authorities, that is, he not only accountable, but is unable to perform its functions in the territory. One of the most absurd examples of this provision – the contracts that we are forced to conclude with city halls to organize the registration of recruits as a function of state power, and no the mayor is not obliged (and entitled) to do it.
It own functions of local self-government, more – if used for urban and rural settlements recognized 22 local issue, now they are are responsible for nearly 40. Thus, the financial resources of local authorities there – now its budget should be formed from two taxes: the land and property of individuals, and although its collection is growing (this year at 67 billion), the total deficit of all 23 thousand of municipalities amounts to nearly 2.5 trillion rubles. How often do experts say, in ordinary budgets of local authorities actually have the funds only for the payment of salaries and utility costs for budgetary institutions. Everything else is covered by regional and Federal deductions.
You can, of course, once again to reallocate the powers – to return something of them at the regional or even Federal level. But this is contrary to the policy of Vladimir Putin and the logic of development of the country, the interests of the population, which, on the contrary, consists in that to bring government to the people. Everyone needs strong, self-sufficient local authorities – and the people who choose it, and the Federal government, which is going more and more powers and taxes to pay. Otherwise we will never get away from the fact that during the straight lines of the President most of the questions to him was about housing.
“Municipal reform is already overdue, – the Vice-President of the Center for strategic communications Dmitry Abzalov. – We at the municipal level, no funding, no responsibility, simply put, competence. This is a very serious problem which relates primarily to the lack of a unified system, a single circuit power. Very often we are witnesses of the confrontation of the heads of regions, heads of the cities, which leads to problems first of all the citizens.”
Citizens are able to control and see the local authority where it is really, literally, physically close to them and is mostly left to their own, local problems – it is clear that in any large (or even average) city, where Federal, regional and local powers and problems, it’s impossible. And, in principle, to clearly separate the functions of local and regional not always rational – as in the interests of the citizen who just wants, for example, to drive on normal roads, and from the point of view of building an effective management. “We need to create a single management system at the regional, Federal and municipal levels, with its own funding and authorities, – says Dmitry Abzalov, – to avoid this, when the Governor itself, and the municipality itself. Under this idea it was proposed to reduce the level of government, for example, with the heads of the cities below in areas. This will lead to the withdrawal of political tension in the cities between regional and municipal authorities. Nobody is talking about the elimination of local self-government and about the infringement of his rights, it is about improving efficiency and accountability to citizens as governors and heads of municipalities. The district level for local self-government is justified, but it is unclear how it can help the city with the million population. It’s one thing to know the person in the face, to know his responsibility for garbage removal and cleaning of the territory is the size of the community, and quite another when such a model applies to a large city. It is necessary to conduct an audit, to see what level is required for local governments, what is the format of responsibility, how it will be implemented”.
It turns out that in the current situation of local self-government there are two key challenges. First, this definition of the upper limit number of people able to organize themselves and to control power down in the cities and villages they will choose the local authority, who will have no other functions. And in all other cases, the elected local authority can be entered in the unified state system – for example, by empowering the elected head of local self-government status of the head of the grass-roots level of state power with adequate powers and obligations. Thus, the local government will fulfill two functions and get a double responsibility – to the electorate and the parent state authorities. In the case of improper performance by local authorities of state functions it may be subjected to measures ranging from fines to dismissal of the head of the local authority.
Nothing difficult about this system of dual functions of local governments and their accountability to public authorities not – it operates in many countries, from France to India. The General Director of Institute of priority regional projects Nikolay Mironov noted that the law often provides for the dissolution of local councils. Such rules exist in India, France, Mexico, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, some German States, Australia and other countries. Moreover, according to Mironov, in Argentina, there is the personal responsibility of municipal deputies “for the illegal decision”.
“Local authorities in all countries of the world had a hard enough responsibility for their actions. Representative bodies can also be dissolved for accepting illegal decisions,” he says.
In Russia at the municipal level of government sometimes situations are formed when part of the MPs represent those interested in certain solutions, including connection with the business, Mironov said: “This is not a systemic problem of local self-government, but occasionally it happens. Therefore, this measure of responsibility, as a dissolution, not hurt. But there should be no extremes, must not be arbitrary. It should not be used for political purposes, when there is a conflict, the regional authorities and bodies of local self-government.”
In the days of Ivan the terrible elected heads of communities was considered as being on government service, the “sovereign Affairs”. Tips, chosen by the people – from the settlement to the Supreme – also formed a single system of state power. This system meets and today the interests of our people. Because it will not only bring local government to the people will make district councils the real power in the area, but will also allow you to control it from below by the forces of society, and from above, the forces of the government. This reform is not just ripe – it really is one of the key. In fact, that I should look her up, and said recently, Vladimir Putin, reminding the representatives of municipalities, Public and municipal authorities should work as a team. The Federal centre, the regions and each of more than 23 thousand of our municipalities – from large urban districts to small rural settlements – all should feel that they are working in a single system. We have a common goal – the development of Russia and all its territories.”