Staunton, January 5 – To force the regions to economize, Vladimir Putin has had the finance ministry develop a single model budget for all regions, defining how much all must spend on health care, education, the economy and everything else, Natalya Zubarevich says. Any region that varies will have its subsidies from the center cut
Since more than 70 of the subjects of the Russian Federation are getting subsidies, this is a powerful lever, the director of regional programs at the Moscow Institute for Social policy says, and has terrified those regional officials who have been shown drafts of this policy so far (ura.news/articles/1036273476).
Up not now, the leading Russian specialist on regional economics says, Russia did not really have federalism, but “now [the central authorities] have shifted to anti-federalism,” to a program designed to prevent regional officials from making any adaptation to local conditions, however pressing they may be.
On the entire range of questions governing relations between Moscow and the regions, Zubarevich continues, “the rules of the game are changing and always in favor of the federal center,” a trend that may be setting the stage for the suppression of some regions and their amalgamation with others.
The specialist on regional economics says that she does not see any reason for moving in that direction, however. First of all, “the entire experience of previous amalgamations shows that those that were depressed regions before remain depressed after being combined with others and the others do not gain anything either.
The only positive outcome, Zubarevich suggests, is that the statistics on paper look better as there are now “no weakly developed autonomous oblasts.” Any amalgamation creates problems and it is better not to touch things when you don’t know what those problems will be. But politicians in Moscow see such moves as a simulacrum of “stormy activity.”
Unfortunately for Russia, such activity “has only a very weak impact on economic development.”