At the same time, the importance of Technology Promotion Centers should not be overestimated as concerns the development of scientific organizations and higher education establishments. The foreign experience demonstrate that proceeds from commercial operations of higher education institutions is usually below 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the aggregate budget of a university allocated for R & D projects. Therefore, TPC can not be the basis of sustainable development; however, the centers can facilitate the creation, in cooperation with the START program, of the sector of small innovative businesses. It should be however noted that at present the creation of small businesses by higher education institutions is difficult in the current regulatory and legislative framework. First, bylaws of higher education establishments do not set innovative activities as a core activity. Second, only owners have the right to establish small enterprises. As concerns state higher education institutions, the owner is the state in the person of the Ministry of Education and Science. Therefore, in formal terms only the Ministry has the right to take decisions concerning the creation of small enterprises. In this connection, higher education institutions, which have TPC, participate in the START program, and strive for the development of a small innovation business see the solution of this problem in the creation of so called “dependent” small enterprises, which they establish on the basis of optional agreements with the higher education institution. This practice was successfully used in the Nizhny Novgorod State University, where in 2004 there were created 19 dependent small innovation firms.
The Ministry of Education and Science believes that one of the key instruments for the further development of innovative activities is the parity financing of components of the infrastructure from different sources, including regional funds, financing provided by businesses, and from foreign sources. However, since January 1, 2005, the co-financing from the federal and regional budgets will be in fact prohibited. This development is related to the approval of the federal law “On amendments to the legislative acts of the Russian Federation and abolishment of certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation in relation to the approval of federal laws “On amendments to the federal law “On the general principles of organization of the legislative (representative) and executive authorities of the RF subjects” and “On the general principles of organization of local governments in the Russian Federation” 19. This law has practically excluded from the federal law “On science and state scientific and technological policy” all issues concerning the powers of RF subjects with respect to the general problems of science, which the RF Constitution sets in the joint jurisdiction of the RF and its subjects. The sphere of science is absent in the list of the issues being in the joint jurisdiction, for which RF subjects have the right to expend the funds of their budgets. At the same time, the creation of the innovation infrastructure is based on the co-financing from the federal and regional budgets. Moreover, in accordance with the new version of the law on science, in the jurisdiction of RF subjects should be only “material, technical, and financial provision of scientific and research and development activities of state institutions of the RF subject” (item 3, article 12). Since RF subjects have practically no scientific institutions in their jurisdictions, it means that RF subjects should not engage in the financing of either scientific or innovation activities. These stipulations undermine the creation of such components of the innovation infrastructure as technological clusters, which are yet another form of development of innovation activities.
Clusters are usually defined as a network of independent enterprises, scientific organizations, universities, services organizing cooperation between science and industry, consulting and broker organizations, as well as consumers, making a single production line, which produces added value20. It is believed that clusters significantly improve labor productivity. In Russia, an example of cluster may be the “naukograd (town of science).” Until now, the development of the “towns of science” occurred on the basis of the combined use of the funds provided from the federal and regional budgets.
I. Dezhina Types of pensions and the issues of inheritance of accumulated amounts in the pension schemes of Russian Non-State Pension Funds.
In 2004, the development of the funded component of the pension system entered its new stage – since this year the insured persons have the right to choose not only the investors of pension accumulations formed on their behalf, but the respective insurers as well (the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation or non-state pension funds (NSPF).
81 NSPF stated that they were going to participate in the system of mandatory pension insurance and more than 30 of these funds could conclude the first contracts with regard to mandatory pension insurance with insured persons after overcoming the bureaucratic difficulties of the initial stage. In December of 2004, the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation should transfer to NSPF the amounts formed in favor of 256 thousand citizens.
The conditions, on which there will be carried out the formation and investment of funded pensions accumulated of the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation and NSPF are rather close, moreover, they should be identical, since these two variants of formation of the funded pensions are the components of the single system. At the same time, there is still some uncertainty as concerns the form of the funded part of the labor pension in the case the funds allocated for its payment are formed in NSPF. In this connection it is of interests to analyze the market of pension products, which NSPF offer with Federal law No. 122 - ФЗ of August 22, 2004.
Boosting Innovations: The Cluster Approach. OECD, Paris, 1999.
respect to the voluntary pension insurance. Information about the types of pensions is contained in the NSPF rules; below there is presented an analysis of the pension schemes used by the NSPF, which presented their schemes on the Internet.
As concerns the voluntary pension insurance, Russian NSPF usually offer both life and term annuities. Sometimes, NSPF offer joint annuities, while spouse annuities are offered very seldom (in the framework of the schemes under the analysis such a product was offered only once). The schemes envisaging the gradual write down of accumulated funds are very rare, however, a number of NSPF offer the schemes, where the promise to pay the pension over a certain number of years (most often years, however, there are offered also other terms, for instance 3 or 10 years) is determined by the availability of money on the participant’s account. Besides, in a number of cases NSPF do not clearly state the schemes available to the participant. Especially significant percentage of uncertainty was registered in the schemes envisaging fixed contributions. In about 17 per cent of the cases the rules of NSPF fail to define the form of annuity. The pensions may be paid both from registered pension accounts of participants, and joint corporate accounts. In both these cases, the NSPF rules may stipulate joint responsibility. Although this term has not been legally defined with respect to NSPF, the inclusion of this condition is interpreted as the responsibility of the contributor (employer) for the NSPF compliance with the conditions of the pension contract between the NSPF and the participant.
The funds accumulated on the participant’s accounts are not always subject to inheritance. The requirements the Government set forth with respect to the NSPF pension schemes demand NSPF only indicate the availability or non-availability of the option of inheritance of the fund participant’s accumulations. The solution of this problem is rendered more difficult due to the fact that in legal terms the participant does not own the pension accumulations, which are the property of the fund, and it is rather the question of succession in title than the right of inheritance. It should be noted that the norms of inheritance law are not automatically extended to this sphere of relations. In this situation, the requirements to the legal culture of participants of NSPF sharply increase, since the realization of the rights of successors declared in the terms of the scheme depends on the correct formulation of the concrete contract between the participant and the NSPF and the clear indication of successors in due legal terms.
Out of 100 schemes analyzed with respect to the inheritance issues, 36 did not envisage inheritance in any form. More often, inheritance is unavailable in the framework of schemes with fixed payments (each second scheme), while in the framework of schemes envisaging fixed contributions this option was unavailable in each third case. One fourth of the schemes with fixed contributions limited the inheritance to the period prior to the beginning of payments, and about the same number of schemes made inheritance available both prior and after the beginning of the payments. Rather seldom (only in 7 schemes), the inheritance was made available only after the beginning of payments.
In the cases, where the scheme envisaged the option of inheritance, the successor should not receive the inherited amount, but conclude a pension contract with the fund. Rather often, the terms of such a contract included additional contributions for the purposes to increase the amount of the expected pension.
Besides, the inheritance option was often made available only on the basis of the respective entries in the contract between the participant and the NSPF, and, what is more important, the contract between the NSPF and the contributor (employer). It should be also noted that the option of inheritance is not closely tied both to the type of the pension scheme (fixed payments or fixed contributions), and the form of annuity.
However, this analysis of pension schemes does not permit to answer the question about the availability of the forms of pensions and the actual scope of inheritance practice with respect to the pension accumulations, since there were no data on the distribution of participants across the schemes.
L. Mikhailov, L. Sycheva Stamp tax: an article of the Tax Code The law “On amendments to Sections 2 and 3 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation and certain other legislative acts of the Russian Federation and on invalidation of certain legislative acts (provisions of legislative acts) of the Russian Federation” No. 127 FZ of November 2, 2004, has introduced new Article 25.3 “Stamp Tax” in the RF Tax Code.
This article has specific features in comparison with certain other articles primarily due to the fact that in the terms of the concept the major part of payments included in this article may be defined rather as not taxes, but user charges, which are characterized by a number of differences from tax payments. Such payments include for instance payments for registration, payments collected for the issuance of passports and driver licenses, payments for the services rendered by public notaries, or payments associated with the institution of legal actions. The principal difference between user charges and taxes is that in the case of taxes there is usually no direct relation between the payments and consumption of services rendered by the public sector. At the same time, as concerns user charges, the consumer of a service is the person, who made the payment, while the amount of the consumed service (in the cases where such a service is consumed a number of times or is not mandatory) may be chosen in accordance with the benefit of such a service and the price associated with this service. This approach permits to distribute the costs associated with the rendering of services by the public sector between the beneficiaries of such services, i.e. in the case certain additional conditions are met, this approach may result in the establishment of the “benefits received principle” in the financing of expenditures of the public sector.
The RF Tax Code regulates collection of user charges alongside with taxes, therefore, it can not be stated that this article has been incorporated in the Tax Code illegitimately; however, the adequacy of payments set forth in Article 25.3 “Stamp Tax” raises certain questions, moreover, there are questions concerning the interest of any state authority body in such an adequacy.
In principle, the collection of user charges imitates a market mechanism, under which producers sell their goods and services to consumers at a certain price. In this framework, consumers purchase at the current market price such an amount of goods and services, at which the benefit of the last consumed unit of the product is equal to the price paid. In the case the price corresponds to the marginal cost of production of the product, the allocation of benefits is efficient. An additional effect may be that the payment of the costs associated to the provision of benefits to the respective consumers, which in essence is similar to a market mechanism, answers the concept of fairness shared by the majority (on condition that the price is set at the level of costs). However, deviations from this rule may result in an efficient allocation of resources in the cases, where the consumption of services rendered for the respective charges has significant positive or negative externalities.
It should be stressed that the correct setting of user charges permits to achieve two most important effects inherent in the price system: first, the realization of a rationalizing mechanism, under which the state will provide benefits to everyone valuing them not below the cost required for the provision thereof; second, provision of decision makers with the necessary information, since the comparison between the revenues generated by user charges and the costs associated with the rendering of respective services may in the future help in the course of taking allocation decisions (see: G. Bell, “User Charges”, in Tax Policy Handbook, ed. By P. Shome, IMF, Washington, D.S., 1995, p. 104).
As a result of the political process, the stamp tax may be set at a level above or below that determined by the efficiency considerations.
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