Saturday, October 26, 2019

Moscow’s Assistance Program to North Caucasus Failing to Meet Targets, Audit Chamber Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 23 –Over the last 15 years, Moscow has sent billions of rubles to the North Caucasus to promote development there and thus reduce the chance that its residents will go int the woods to fight Russian rule. But despite its massive quality, this program has “still not achieved its expected effect,” a Russian Audit Chamber investigation says.

            The Chamber’s Svetlana Orlova, who carried the audit, reports that “a significant improvement in the investment climate has not been observed either in the region as a whole or in its individual subjects” and that “there are extremely few examples of successfully completed investment projects”

            The report is certain to intensify the anger of many Russians who are upset that Moscow has been sending money to the North Caucasus to buy peace when it is cutting back on spending in federal subjects elsewhere, given that the Audit Chamber’s findings about Moscow’s investment program in the North Caucasus are so devastating.

            The Chamber’s specific findings about Russian state investment in the region are truly appalling. Despite spending billions of rubles, Moscow-assisted enterprises in the North Caucasus added only 577 new jobs there, a drop in the bucket compared to the 70,000 new jobs the region needs each year.

            In 2017, the Chamber found, only 22 percent of the projects getting Mscw mney were on schedule, a figure that improved only slightly, to 36 percent, in 2018. And this despite the fact that over this period Moscow has sent 16.7 billion rubles (270 million US dollars) for these projects.

            Among the reasons for these failures, the Audit Chamber said, was the fac that relations between the federal subjects, the companies and investors “were not regulated in detail at the federal level.” As a result, each participant acted on the basis f his own assumptions rather than according to an overarching plan. 

In some republics, Daghestan for example, no agreements were concluded at all last year; and in all, “except Ingushetia,” there were violations in the schedules set by the agreements that were signed.  This happened because Moscow oversight and planning has been lacking, the auditors concluded.

The official most responsible for these shortcomings, the auditors suggested, is Sergey Chebtaryev, the minister for the affairs of the North Caucasus. He said he accepted the results of the audit but said that the reason for the shortcomings lay not with his ministry but with problems on the ground in each of the republics.

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