Source Pravda.Ru

Government chief of staff lashes out administrative reform progress

The reform of the federal executive bodies has failed to fully realize the principle of separation of functions, chief of the Russian government staff Dmitry Kozak said on Wednesday at the meeting of the board and supervisory council of the Center for development of information society.

The main task when changing the structure of federal bodies of executive power was to separate regulatory, supervisory and service-providing functions, Kozak recalled. "We have failed to reach this target," he admitted.

At the same time, a significant step forward has been taken that allows building an efficient administrative system, understandable for citizens, he believes.

Among the successes he named optimization of the number of Cabinet members, introduction of personal responsibility of ministers for their work.

"Citizens should know who is responsible for the situation in some or other sphere," he pointed out.

When talking on the tasks to complete the reform, Kozak stressed the need to implement the government's decisions on abolition of excessive functions. This means amending "hundreds, maybe thousands" of enactments concerned with state functions, he added.

"Revision is already underway and in the near future we have to determine what property is superfluous," he said.

According to Kozak, at present Russia has about 11,000 federal state enterprises and some 36,000 state institutions. "What are they necessary for if they do not bring profit and do not ensure execution of state functions? I hope that in the near future it will become clear how taxpayers' money is spend, after all these 36,000 state institutions are fed by taxpayers," Kozak said.

Superfluous functions of state institutions and enterprises will be determined proceeding from the principle that the state should not be engaged in pure entrepreneurship and should carry out state functions, the government chief of staff said.

Yet another task is to divide functions between the newly created federal executive bodies.

At present 80 percent of their functions have been defined, he said. Functions of 45 of the 58 civil federal bodies have been determined. By the end of June the work is to be completed, Kozak recalled. He pointed to the high intensity of the work that had been done in virtually a month.

The former government structure, endorsed in May 2004, is not fully worked out even today, he said. For example, the decree on the Finance Ministry has not been approved.

At present the government is working on bills on the state law-enforcement service and the state military service, Kozak announced.

The bills are being prepared within the framework of the state service reform, which is part of the administrative reform, he explained. The bill on the state civil service is already in its final stage, he recalled.

The new laws seek to define the rules and principles of doing the state service and its financing, Kozak said.

At present there are no universal approaches to the state service, there are only individual departmental approaches to giving different privileges and benefits, he pointed out.

"We often hear civil servants complain about the incredibly small wages, while senior officials have an enormous number of privileges. Taxpayers do not know how much financing of these officials costs," he said.

Russia will need several years to adopt legislation streamlining the activities of executive bodies, he emphasized in his speech.

The current legislation has virtually no democratic, understandable procedures for the state to exercise its powers, he said.

"It will take years to adopt legislation streamlining the activities of executive bodies in line with the standards of highly developed countries".

A working group involving the Communications Ministry has been set up to develop necessary procedures to create an "electronic government", Kozak said.

The reform of federative relations envisages that each level of power has to choose priorities in budget spending and be fully responsible for fulfilling its obligations, he said.

"Constituent members of the federation, local bodies of self-government have been under legal and financial dictate of the federal center. Now all levels of power will start working under new principles," he explained.

Each level of power can plan its activities and be fully accountable to the voters for their results, Kozak pointed out. "Today's task of the state is to honestly and openly make the decisions that it can fulfill. It is time it should stop lying to citizens," he said.

So far, bodies of power have been giving away privileges and benefits "easily", without thinking from what sources they will be financed. "Some guarantees and privileges were fulfilled by 5-10 percent," Kozak emphasized.

Now powers of each level have been linked to its financial opportunities, he said. "Each level of power formed by citizens should have its own level of responsibility, so that citizens should understand what they have elected them for. This task has been solved, areas of responsibility divided," he concluded.

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