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An understandable debate has been stirred by a government regulation that banned in 2007 labour migrants from working as vendors at Russian markets, one of the justifications for which was the notion that Russian citizens (allegedly) can and want to engage in trade18. Research shows (and it is accepted by the majority of experts) that migrants occupy specific niches in the labour market, without entering into competition with Russian workforce19. The ban on migrants20 to work at markets does not resolve the problem of the criminalization of retail trade; rather it only increases its shadow-economy component. In addition, this policy may well result in empty market stalls, which in some regions will definitely lead to negative consequences for the regional economy and will turn out to be to the extreme disadvantage of the majority of the population. It is perfectly clear that the majority of problems in market trade are linked not to hired vendors who were manning market stalls across Russia, but to the activities of the senior levels in ethnic diaspora communities closely linked to the criminal world. As a rule, these people have long obtained Russian citizenship and registration in major Russian cities.

A few words need to be said regarding new regulations on quotas on foreign workforce. This system, as a whole, has posed and continues to pose numerous questions. Until November 2006 there was no issue of quotas for jobs for nationals from countries with have visa-free regime with Russia: quotas referred to invitations for individuals who came to Russia on a work visa. In the first years following the introduction of quotas on invitations for labour migrants from visa-regime countries, they were not fully used up. In November 2006 it was decided21 to introduce a quota on work permits for nationals of countries which have a visa-free regime with Russia and set it at 6 million work permits. In foreign countries, whose experience the Russian authors of the law must have used, quotas are introduced if 1) it is necessary to contain the inflow of immigrants and 2) there are efficient mechanisms to ensure that containment. Russia at the moment has a need not to limit the inflow of immigrants but to increase the legal migration component. At the same time the mechanisms for exercising this need and controlling migrants' stay and work in the country do not work very well. The point of creating the institute of quotas was questioned from the very beginning. The figure of over 6 million workers, which has no equivalent anywhere else in the world, indirectly proves that the introduction of quotas on labour migrants in Russia at least at this stage is pointless and, in any event, does not have clear and economically justified grounds. The demand for seasonal, temporary and long-term workers has not been calculated, which only adds to the uncertainty over the point of the introduced quotas.

Thus, alongside regulations which make migration policy procedures more logical and convenient for migrants and the state, in recent months there have been adopted regulations that do not have sufficient justification, which makes their efficiency questionable.

O. Chudinovskikh Issues considered at Russian government sessions in March In March the government of the Russian Federation considered the following issues: draft key areas of tax policy for 2008-2010; means of improving the administration of the value-added tax; draft key areas of customs policy for 2008-2010; draft law on establishing a register of municipal regulations; draft three-year budget for 2008-2010; draft key areas of debt policy for 2008-2010; results of implementing the programme See Russian Government Regulation No 683 of 15 November 2006 "On setting for 2007 the permissible share of foreign employees employed by retail businesses in the Russian Federation".

See, for example, E. Tjurjukanova "Forced labour in modern Russia: Uncontrolled migration and human trafficking." International Labour Organization, Geneva, 2006, pp 89, 94.

in effect amounting to a ban on profession Russian Government Regulation No 682 of 15 November 2006 "On setting for 2007 a quota for work permits for foreign nationals arriving in the Russian Federation visa-free"; for nationals of other countries there another government regulation, No 665 of 11 November 2006 "On setting for 2007 a quota for issuing invitations for foreign nationals to enter Russia to work in retail trade".

of Russia's state internal and external borrowing in 2006, and draft programmes of state internal and external borrowing for 2008-2010.

*** The Russian government session on 2 March discussed a draft of key areas of tax policy for 2008-2010.

Under this draft the main areas for developing medium-term tax policy are: control over transfer pricing for taxation purposes; taxation of dividends paid to Russian nationals; regulation of taxation of controlled foreign companies; issues of defining tax residence of legal entities; introduction of the institute of consolidated tax accounts when calculating profit tax; improvement of the value-added tax; profit tax on securities transactions; income tax on securities transactions and others.

The session also discussed the Finance Ministry's report on improving VAT administration. The report noted a drop in VAT revenues in the budget. The relevant federal agencies were instructed to develop a plan for improving VAT administration, including measures to increase VAT revenues in 2007 by among other things reducing arrears, and measures to improve controls over recovering VAT for transactions taxable at the 0-per-cent rate and others.

At the same session the government listened to reports from the economic development and trade minister and the head of the Federal Tax Service and approved a draft of main areas of tax policy for 2008-2010 they had developed together with the other relevant federal bodies.

The government session on 15 March discussed the implementation of the president's budget address to the Federal Assembly on budget policy for 2008-2010. The government instructed heads of federal executive bodies to carry out their activities and draw up the federal budget for 2008 and up to 2010 on the basis of key tasks set in the president's budget address, namely: to provide funding for adopted decisions on the implementation of large-scale programmes and projects of national significance; to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the use of budget funds; to use combined principles of forming and carrying out state capital investments and others.

At the same session the government discussed draft federal law "On amendments to several legislative acts linked to the establishment and maintenance of a register of municipal legal acts". The draft law is aimed at governing the powers of state authorities in constituent entities of the Russian Federation as regards the establishment and maintenance of the municipal register and of the authorized federal body of executive power as regards the maintenance of a federal register of municipal legal acts. The government approved the draft law.

The government session on 22 March listened to several reports from the finance minister.

The Russian finance minister's report on the outcomes of implementing the programme of state internal and external borrowings of the Russian Federation in 2006 and on draft programmes of state internal and external borrowings of the Russian Federation for 2008-2010. The session largely approved the draft programmes of state internal and external borrowings of the Russian Federation for 2008-2010. In addition, the Finance Ministry, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and the Federal Financial Markets Service together with the Bank of Russia were instructed to ensure monitoring of external borrowings in the corporate sector in order to use its outcomes in assessing the Russian Federation's debt stability. Progress in the above work is to be reported to the government by 20 May 2007.

The Russian finance minister's report "On key characteristics of the draft federal budget for 2008 and up to 2010 and the allocation of federal budget revenues during that period along the ministerial structure and sections of the functional classification of expenditures of Russian Federation budgets". The key characteristics of the federal budget for 2008 and up to 2010 were adopted as a basis for preparing a draft three-year federal budget, including the allocation of expenditures in the 2008-2010 federal budget alongside the ministerial structure and sections of functional classification of expenditures of Russian Federation budgets.

The government session on 29 March discussed draft federal law "On invalidating Federal Law 'On financial-industrial groups'". The draft law had been developed by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry to fulfil a ruling of the government commission on administrative reform to end excessive state regulation that had been approved by the Russian Federation government and to recognize that Federal Law "On financial-industrial groups" had become void.

At the same session the government discussed a draft government regulation on a procedure for hearing disputes that arise between bodies that regulate tariffs and surcharges for goods and services in the utilities sector and public utility companies that had been drawn up by the Federal Service on Tariffs in accordance with Federal Law "On basic principles of regulating tariffs in the utilities sector".

Under the above draft, the Federal Service on Tariffs is the federal executive body authorized to consider disputes arising between executive bodies of power in constituent parts of the Russian Federation that regulate tariffs for goods and services of public utility companies, local authorities that regulate tariffs and sur charges by public utility companies and public utility companies themselves as regards set tariffs and surcharges in compliance with the procedure proposed in the draft. The draft sets the time frame and procedure for considering a statement of disagreements. It also outlines grounds for refusing to consider a statement of disagreements or suspending the deadline for considering the dispute.

M. Goldin A review of economic legislation for March 2007.

In March, the following alterations were introduced in current legislation: amendments to Article 217 of the RF Tax Code in the part concerning the exemption of the grants allocated by Russian organizations to support science & education and culture & art from the personal income tax; the law on municipal service was adopted; changes were introduced in the list of foreign and international organizations whose grants should not be taken into account for purposes of taxation as part of the incomes of Russian organizations;

and the data to be applied for calculating the tax on the extraction of mineral resources in regard to oil, for February 2007, were published.

I. FEDERAL LAWS of the Russian Federation 1. ON THE INTRODUCTION OF ALTERATIONS IN ARTICLE 217 OF PART TWO OF THE TAX CODE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION of 23 March 2007, No 38 FZ.

The Law enters into force from 1 January 2008, but no earlier than one month after the date of its official publication.

In accordance with the introduced alterations, the taxpayers will be exempted from taxation with regard to the sums received by them in the form of grants (or gratis aid) allocated to support science & education and culture & art in the Russian Federation, including the Russian entered in the list authorized by the RF Government. At present, the sums in the form of grants received from international and foreign organizations are not subject to exemption from the personal income tax.

2. ON MUNICIPAL SERVICE IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION of 2 March 2007, No 25 - FZ The Law enters into force from 1 June 2007.

The Law is aimed at improving the institution of municipal service in the Russian Federation. Municipal service is understood as the vocational activity of citizens of the Russian Federation, and in the instances specified by the law, also of citizens of other states, pursued on a permanent basis in the form of municipal service jobs held by way of concluding a labor agreement (or contract).

The Law has regulated the relations dealing with the taking, holding and terminating of a job, and also with the definition of the legal status of municipal employees. The right to enter municipal service is granted to persons who have reached the age of 18, have a working knowledge of the official language of the Russian Federation, and meet the corresponding qualifying requirements established for holding municipal service jobs. A citizen should not be granted a job in municipal service after he or she has reached the age of 65, the limiting age established for holding municipal service jobs (previously, the age limit was 60 years).

The qualifying requirements regarding the level of vocational education, the length of being employed in municipal service or the length of practicing ones profession, and the professional knowledge and skills, should be established by municipal legal acts on the basis of the standard qualifying requirements established by a law of a RF subject in accordance with the classification of municipal service jobs.

The Law has determined the procedure for creating the jobs, for their classification and for the conditions for their inclusion in the Register of municipal service jobs in a subject of the Russian Federation, and has also determined the major qualifying requirements for holding these jobs.

The Law has consolidated the legal status of a municipal employee: his or her rights and responsibilities, the limitations and prohibitions dealing with municipal service, and the procedure for the submission, by the employees, of the data on their incomes and property.

Special chapters are devoted to: the remuneration of municipal employees and the guarantees granted to them; the procedure for estimating the length of work in municipal service; the incentives for and the disciplinary responsibility of municipal employees; and the organization of personnel management in a municipal formation.

The Law does not define the status of the persons who hold municipal jobs without being municipal employees, that is, deputies and members of elected bodies of local self - government, and elected officials of local self government bodies, members of the electoral commissions of municipal formations functioning on a permanent basis and being juridical persons with the right of decisive voice.

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