Staunton, Sept. 9 – There are two kinds of financial hyper-centralization in the Russian Federation which make it almost impossible for local people and their immediate governments to deal with any problem. The more familiar one is between the regions and Moscow, but equally important in some respects is that within the regions.
There, Kirill Strakhov, a Yabloko candidate in St. Petersburg, says, what taxes are collected go almost exclusively to the regional governments thus leaving municipalities and other lower-ranking governments without the wherewithal to fulfill their obligations and forcing everyone to appeal to regional heads (region.expert/spb-taxes/).
According to researchers at Moscow State University, the politician says, every working Russian hands over roughly half of his income to the government via direct and indirect taxes and sees only a fraction of that return to his region let alone his municipality.
Taxpayers in the Northern Capital send “astronomical” amounts to Moscow but their federal subject gets back only 42 percent of the total. Moscow keeps the rest. And within the St. Petersburg federal subject, district governments get only 27 percent of the budget money and municipal governments only two percent.
In short, Strakhov says, within the federal subjects, the distribution of tax revenue is even more centralized than it is for the country as a whole. Moscow keeps 58 percent of taxes paid to it, but the federal subject, at least in the case of St. Petersburg, retains 71 percent, a staggering share.
“This means that even the smallest issue cannot be resolved at the local level,” the candidate says, even though “it is simply impossible to administer an enormous city from Smolny,” where the city government is housed.
“We are required to pay taxes,” he continues, but the system that has developed over the last 20 years keeps Russians from being able to address the problems of their neighborhoods on their own. The only way that can change, the Yabloko candidate says, is for those who have erected this system to be replaced by those who recognize its shortcomings.