Theses of A. V. Gordeev’s speech at the session of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation “On execution of the State program for agriculture development and regulation of agriculture goods, raw materials ad foodstuffs market for 2008-2012 in 2008 and the tasks in prospect”. Published: 05.11.2008. Site of the Ministry for Agriculture of the Russian Federation: www. mcx.ru The report of the Minister of the Agriculture on the measures for the steady development of the countryside territories within the framework of the State program on 5 November 2008 considers the target indicators and the used funds. As to the first indicator over 9 months of 2008 was 50.2% fulfilled of that planned for the year, that is the countryside inhabitants purchased (or received on other grounds) 747.3 thousand sq m of housing. It is unknown however how many people or families improved their living conditions within the framework of the Program, though in the preceding National project such a figure was mentioned being however quite moderate of 32 thousand of people all over the country. The use of funds from all the sources proceeds quite successfully: over 9 months 101.4% of the volume of the investments for 2008 was used. The Minister regards the problem of “high growth rates of the costs for housing construction, deepening of the gad between the real and planned costs”, and the solution of the problem is either “to allocate additional funds of the federal budget to fulfill the target indices” or “to decrease the target indices the volume of funds from the federal budget sustaining”. Since the countryside inhabitants are not concerned with the papers turnover any solution is of main interests for the officials themselves.
The report on the Program fulfillment used the disposable resources of the households as an indicator of the living standard of the countryside population; the Program gives the forecast for 2008: RUR 7085 per a member of a household a month. Since in the first half of 2008 disposable resources, according to the estimation of the Federal State Statistics Service reached RUR 7468.6 the Minister reported that they “have already exceeded the planned figure by nearly 5%”17. However the mechanism of the Program measures influence on this indicator remains unclear. There are some more remarks to be added here.
First, though the average disposable resources of households in the countryside increased in the first half of 2008, reaching RUR 7429, the purchasing power of the average monetary incomes for the majority of the foodstuffs over the same period, according to the data of the Federal State Statistics Service, decreased, concerning îmilk, oil, butter, bread and flour, potato and rice. The purchasing power increased in regard to beef, frozen fish, sugar and cabbage. It is clear that in the environment of high inflation the nominal wages and other sources of incomes may grow the purchasing power decreasing Second, estimating the changes in the level of the population incomes one cannot limit to the average figure (for instance the disposable resources) especially taking into account the increasing differentiation by the level of incomes. The monitoring of the countryside development and, consequently, the Program should register at least the level of the poverty in the countryside (the percentage of the countryside population with the incomes below the subsistence level). Unfortunately, when it comes to the incomes of the countryside inhabitants of the individual regions, the state statistics provides only the average figures. The same applies to the housing availability, which is only one of many characteristics of the living standards. It is completely unclear how the thousand square meters of the purchased housing are distributed among the population or at least what percentage of the countryside families have the square of living below 10 sq m per person – the dynamics of such a figure would better reflect the housing availability than the sums of the used funds of the federal budget. Otherwise, the regions appear to compete for the use of the budget funds to fulfill the measures on housing construction at the countryside and not for the efficiency of their use.
Third, the bigger transparence in the distribution of budget expenses would contribute into their efficiency. Instead of this in 2008 the Program envisages the contribution of the Russian Federation in the authorized capital stock of the open joint-stock company “Rosagroleasing” (State Agro-Industrial Leasing Company, RUR 8 bln) and the increase in the authorized capital stock of the open joint-tock company “RosSelkhozbank” (Russian Agricultural Bank, RUR 5.7 bln), which makes 18% of the total sum for all the measures fulfillment. Every year the budget funds are transferred to two corporations (within the framework of the National project they received, correspondingly, RUR 9.4 and 8.0 bln), which leads to the monopolization of the markets of material and technical as well as financial resources for the agriculture. That is why the inhabitants of the countryside cited as the main beneficiaries of the Project and the Program not the population or the young specialists and not the agriculture Theses of A. V. Gordeev’s speech at the session of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation “On execution of the State program for agriculture development and regulation of agriculture goods, raw materials ad foodstuffs market for 2008-2012 in 2008 and the tasks in prospect”. Published: 05.11.2008. Site of the Ministry for Agriculture of the Russian Federation: www. mcx.ru organizations but the joint-stock company “Rosagroleasing” and the joint-tock company “RosSelkhozbank”.
Socio-economic express-analysis of the new federal target program designed to switch the Russian army to a contract recruitment basis V. Tsymbal The federal target program recently confirmed by the RF Government was announced primarily as a program of creating a NCO corps for the whole military organization of the RF. The brevity of its period of execution was explained by the necessity to accelerate the ongoing military reform, as well as by the crucial changes in the army personnel policy of the State. The content of this Program is satisfactory enough for us to say that the ice has been broken. However, it would certainly be necessary to considerably modify the Program, with the public taking a certain part in the process.
As was demonstrated in a number of the IET’s monthly issues of the year 2008, the previous federal target program (FTP) of switching the Russian army to a contract recruitment basis ended up in failure in 2007. Moreover, the August events in South Osetia confirmed that, after having spent almost billion rubles in 2003 prices on this federal target program, we failed to achieve the most important goal – that of the manning the permanent combat-readiness units by contractees alone even the North Caucasus. As a result, the personnel engaged in fighting off the aggression included not only contractees but also poorly trained draftees recently conscripted into the army. It all happened despite the promises given by the highest-ranking state officials that no draftees would take part in the combat actions.
So, when analyzing the new FTP which, allegedly, builds on the previous one, we first of all wish to gain some understanding as to whether the errors of the previous stage of military reform have indeed been taken into account, and what should be expected from the new stage. In order to find answers to these questions, let us compare the programs by the major standard items of the FTP certificate.
1. Title. The title of the previous program was “The transition of a number of formations and military units to being manned by servicemen enlisted for military service under contracts, for the years 2004 – 2007”. The new program’s title is much longer and more ambitious – “The improvement of the system of filling the sergeant and private positions by servicemen switched over to military service under contract, and of carrying–out the switchover to filling the sergeant (petty officer) and private positions in the RF Armed Forces and in other troops, military formations and organs, and also the sailor positions on ships’ crews by military personnel serving under contracts (in the Years 20092015)”.
2. The justification of the necessity to improve the system of recruitment, as presented in the Concept of the FTP18, contains some sufficiently progressive ideas, for example: “…In the nearest future, it is planned that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation should receive military equipment of the new generation which will be more efficient and, therefore, more sophisticated than that being used at present, which means that the qualification (the level of professional training) of the personnel that will be operating this equipment must be risen, which will require additional expenses on its training; the switchover to one-year-long service under contract means that the servicemen, after having been trained at junior specialists’ schools and having acquired the practical skills necessary for operating the new-generation equipment, will be discharged due to the expiration of the period of their service under contract as established by legislation, which means that despite the continual training of military personnel there will be no fully trained junior specialists”.
The authors of the concept draw a well - justified conclusion that “switching over to contract recruitment is the only possible way out of the existing situation”. However, as is known, some people in the Ministry of Defense have different views. Those views are convincingly rebuffed in the Concept by the argument that “if the mixed system of recruitment is preserved, there will be an inevitable decrease in the numbers of military personnel serving under contracts; a further reduction in Decree of the RF Government of 15 July 2008, No 1016 r.
the attractiveness of military service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation; the loss of specialists capable of professionally operate military equipment and of fulfilling assigned missions; and the ineffectiveness of training of personnel belonging to the junior command element”. With the period of military service under the draft set at one year, this will be certainly so.
The above-cited passage concerning the inadequacy of the mixed method of recruitment under conditions of one-year-long military service has been cut from the text of the approved FTP. The Program furtively materializes the alternative approach to “resolving” the problem. Demonstrating an astonishing degree of indifference to the above-listed consequences, the parameters entered into the FTP imply that the system of mixed recruitment to the regular forces is going to survive at least until 2016! 3. After all that was said above, it is not surprising that the aims of the two programs being compared are formulated differently. The main goals of the previous FTP were not only “to ensure the transition to a new system under which the military positions to be filled by soldiers, sailors, sergeants and petty officers will be filled by personnel enlisted for military service under contracts in the formations and military units of permanent readiness of the RF Armed Forces, military units of frontier troops and internal service troops being switched over to the new method of recruitment”, but also “to improve the combat readiness of the aforesaid formations and military units”. The new FTP keeps silent as to the issue of combat readiness, and its goal is limited to filling, by the year 2016, the sergeant (petty officer) positions in the RF Armed Forces and other troops, military formations and organs, and also the sailor positions on the ships’ crews of the RF Navy by personnel serving under contracts”.
4. Let us pay attention to the chronology: formally, the approval of the new FTP took place after the military conflict in South Osetia and Abkhazia. However, if we read it carefully, it will become apparent that the recent events were not taken into consideration. This bears witness to at least the enormous inertia in the activity of our bureaucracy. Even one moth later, when it became crystal clear to the country leadership that everything was not so good with the combat readiness of the RF Armed Forces, when the RF President had already issued his demand that “all combat units” should be transferred to the category of “permanent readiness” as quickly as possible, nobody recalled the FTP. Nevertheless, it is evident that the formal goal of the new FTP is inconsistent with the present-day situation and requirements.
5. This is also attested to by an analysis of the major goals of the FTP and of the character of the planned measures: 1) improvement of the housing conditions of NCOs and other ranks serving under contracts, including those switched to service under contracts under the previous FTP 2004-07, and 2) making military service under contracts attractive and creating proper conditions for recruitment. Both goals are socially significant, but only with respect to housing conditions. The money incentives envisaged in the new FTP remain extremely unsatisfactory: the stimulating bonus for sailors on the ships’ crews of the RF Navy is left at its the former, long devalued, level of 3,330 rubles per month. As regards sergeants and petty officers, it is set at an even lower level of 100% of pay for position, which presently amounts to 2,304 and 2,496 rubles per month respectively.
The task of improving the combat readiness of troops is not mentioned, and justly enough, because an army comprised of highly trained sergeants and untrained soldiers cannot be sufficiently combat ready, no matter how professional the former might be.
6. Same is true of the indicators designed to serve as benchmarks for tracing the progress of the FTP, as well as of the formulation of its final results.
Both the Concept and the certificate of the new FTP reflect the planned dynamics of increase in the number of the positions to be filled by contractees (by 64,169 all in all); they also reflect the number of the already recruited (under the previous FTP) and new contractees that should be provided with housing.
In particular, these data indicate that the total number of servicemen who became contractees in the period of 2004-7 and have not been provided with housing as yet amounts to more than 41.5 thousand.