(Russia) Seen right through

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How Russia found a way to defeat the uncontrolled spending of trillions of budget rubles

Until 2025, Russia is going to spend 26 trillion rubles on the implementation of national projects – the main goals of the country’s domestic policy, which should significantly improve the quality of life of Russians. Despite the fact that their implementation is in full swing, it is not yet possible to see what and to what extent trillions of budget funds are spent: before, there was no system for tracking the movement of funds. However, now they intend to improve the situation in the Cabinet by launching operational cost-tracking systems. The digital future of the Russian economy is in the Lenta.ru material.

Soul wide open

By international standards, Russia is one of the most financially open states in the world. According to the Open Budget Index , it ranks 15th out of 102 in terms of budget transparency, being in this more advanced than, for example, Canada, Germany and Japan. Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Finance , the Federal Treasury and the Ministry of Economic Development over the past 20 years, government spending has become increasingly open.

First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov

First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anton SiluanovPhoto: Alexander Astafiev / RIA Novosti

In Russia, for many years the budget was transferred to program-targeted principles. Since 2014, it was state programs that became the main way of distributing public funds. Their passports, indicators, and project execution reports are published on a special site . The programs were detailed in detail in the consolidated budget list, which the Ministry of Finance published before 2019, from which it was possible to understand what and how budget funds were spent.

However, with the beginning of the implementation of national projects, the Ministry of Finance changed the publication format of the consolidated budget list. “Two levels of the hierarchy of expenditure detailing disappeared in the documents, instead of them codes for national projects and their federal projects appeared. State programs and national projects in the consolidated budget list are not represented at all. As a result, in everything related to national projects, transparency of the budget list has significantly decreased, ” said Ivan Begtin, director of the Information Culture ANO .

Big spending

Until 2025, according to the presidential decree, a total of 13 national projects are planned to be implemented in Russia: “Demography”, “Culture”, “Healthcare”, “Education”, “Housing and urban environment”, “Ecology”, “Safe and high-quality automobile Roads ”,“ Increasing labor productivity and supporting employment ”,“ Science ”,“ Digital economy ”,“ Small and medium enterprises and supporting individual entrepreneurial initiatives ”,“ International cooperation and export ”, as well as a comprehensive plan for the modernization and expansion of business tral infrastructure.

Photo: Alexander Kryazhev / RIA Novosti

It is planned to spend an amount of 25.7 trillion rubles on the implementation of all national projects in six years: 13 trillion will be allocated from the federal budget; 4.9 trillion will be taken from regional budgets; 7.5 trillion from extrabudgetary sources and 147.8 billion from state extrabudgetary funds. An idea of ​​the level and pace of spending funds on national projects so far can only be obtained from individual documents and public speeches of politicians. For example, in early October, the speaker of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, announced that the budget of national projects for 2019 in the amount of 1.8 trillion rubles was spent on only 52 percent.

As of September 25, the Ecology national project had the worst performance – 20 percent, the National project “Labor productivity and employment support” – 35 percent, “Digital economy” – 15 percent, a comprehensive plan for modernization and expansion of the main infrastructure (the most expensive national project costing 6.3 trillion rubles) – 34 percent.

“After the launch of national projects, a portal did not appear reflecting their plans and progress. Until now, there is nothing about them on the portal of state programs where national projects, it would seem, should be built. There is no section on a single portal of the electronic budget, there is no separate portal, as was the case with the priority national projects of 2006. Avaricious publication of information on the government’s website and on the futurerussia.gov.ru portal does not compensate for the decrease in the financial transparency of the budget as a whole, ” said Ivan Begtin.

Digital future

The lack of transparency of national projects has led Russians to poorly understand what the main national tasks are and how they will be implemented. In June, Valentina Matvienko cited data from a study of Russians’ awareness of national projects, which showed that more than half of the country’s inhabitants did not even hear about them. By the end of 2024, only seven percent of Russians understand the meaning of national projects in Russia.

Photo: Natalya Chernokhatova / TASS

The question of ensuring maximum transparency of national projects has long been: in April, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev emphasized that the government plans to work on the implementation of national projects as transparently as possible. He said that there will be a monitoring system for evaluating the implementation of projects, and work on their implementation will proceed as publicly as possible. In May, Vladimir Putin also drew attention to the fact that citizens need to provide real results of work on the implementation of national projects: “People should see that the process [for the fulfillment of national goals] is ongoing, that it is positive and leads to these results. I appeal to all the officials who are responsible for the implementation of national projects: you need to show people the fruits of their work, the very understandable, tangible changes that improve the lives of Russian families, each person. ”

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In October, it became clear that the Ministry of Finance intends to restore clarity to the spending tracking system. The agency is going to expand the interaction of the Federal Treasury with the financial authorities of the regions. Now, reports on the progress of the implementation of federal projects (of which national projects consist) will be formed by organizations that are holders of final contracts, it follows from the document “The main directions of the budget policy” for 2020-2022.

In what form the tracking system will be implemented (whether it is a separate website, service, or whether operational information will be posted on one of the existing state portals) is unknown. Also, the Ministry of Finance did not specify the timing of the initiative. However, earlier the department reported that the publication of information on the implementation of the federal budget for national projects is planned for this fall.

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