Russia » Economics
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Lots of Gold and Lots of Debt

People live below the poverty line, while the government hides petrodollars in American banks
People can criticize the government and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov as much as they want. One can even dismiss all the senior officials at the same time. Their places will be taken by other adroit statesmen at once, but it does not really matter.

The trouble is in the essence of the entire state policy, which is run by various governments under the guidance of various prime ministers. The point of this policy is the fact that all the profits of either the state or oligarchs are kept somewhere outside Russian territory. However, citizens of rich and plundered Russia keep on living somewhere deep in the past. This is a fatal misbalance between wealth and poverty, between the government and the people, and between life and death.

After Minister for Economic Development and Trade German Gref had to take a break from his activities for health reasons, the ministry started revealing various statistics that testified to serious problems in the Russian state and society. Today, the ministry distributed information about the total wage arrears as of April 1, 2003. The arrears come to a sum of 34 billion, 131 million rubles. This sum looks monstrously unexplainable, taking into consideration the fact that oil prices started going down on the world market only after the victory of the American and British coalition forces in Iraq.

As spokespeople for the ministry stated, the wage-arrears debt reached its peak during January and February of the current year. In March, the debt reduced a bit - by 1.6%. It goes without saying that this is a very weak consolation. Russia has been gaining super-profits from oil sales since last summer, which excludes any kind of such debt. The government paid the foreign debt and oil oligarchs managed to hide a large part of the profit in offshore zones, but something was supposed to be left over. Why not pay wages to people? It seems that petrodollars were used for other, more pressing, purposes.

This is what the nature of officials is all about. In contrast to reporters, they always try to find something positive in every piece of negative information. Despite the increase in the wage-arrears debt (according to the results of the first quarter of the current year), the number of unpaid employees came to 6.6 million people, although last year the number was more than seven million people, the ministry said.

Needless to say, there can not be anything positive found in such numbers. The level of wages paid in Russia is very low in comparison with even the poorer countries of the world, so at times it is not clear how people manage to exist even with their meager wages.

There can be one conclusion made about the whole thing: All these governmental statistics is nothing but nonsense. People cannot live on such scanty means, and the government makes strange reports about it. The Russian State Statistics Committee informs us that the level of the population's money income increased in the first quarter of 2003. This year, people's income came to 1,860.2 billion rubles, which allegedly testifies to a growth of 32.3 percent in comparison with the same period of last year. It would be interesting to know if the unpaid money is included in people's income. Probably, the statistics meant to say that those 6.6 million people were not included on the list of Russians whose income increased by 32.3 percent. It goes without saying that any kind of income growth is out of the question for those people.

On the other hand, it is known where a large part of the petrodollar income goes. The Russian Central Bank has recently announced that the volume of gold and forex reserves increased by 600 million dollars in a week (April 18th - April 25th) and made up 58.3 billion USD. Well, Russia gets richer by 600 million dollars over just one week, but the government cannot pay wages to people. This is rather a strange thing to happen. However, the government hides the state’s income.

PRAVDA.Ru has already reported that Russia keeps its gold and forex reserves in the form of American and German state securities on the New York and London exchanges. The American government, transnational banks and corporations use Russian oil profits and strategic reserves. They invest the Russian money in the economy of China, for example, and create jobs for their people and pay them social allowances. The Russian money was also used to wage war against the defenseless Iraqi nation. Yet, Russian people, and the people of other developing countries (which will always remain at that stage - developing, but never developed) suffer from horrible working conditions and low living standards. The government simply reads its official documents, talks about the stable budget despite the reduction in oil prices, economic stability and a lot of other things. The presence of lies and lack of conscience is very real.

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