Profitability of banking operations by results of the three Quarters 1999 18
The real sector: factors and trends 21
IET Monthly Trend Survey: February 2000 24
To the Concept of Creating Russian State Agricultural Bank 26
Food Aid to Russia 27
Foreign trade 28
Economy and politics in February 2000
The process of configuring of the newly elected Duma that continued through late- February allows several preliminary conclusions.
The configuration of the present Duma is different from the previous. Whereas the period of the radical social transformation, with its uncompromising political struggle is coming to an end, different groups and strata on the society have realized their own economic interests, which determined the retreat from a strict ideological opposition in favor of an organized lobbyism. The pragmatic stand taken by “Unity” and “People’s Deputy” factions, which has already manifested itself in their accentuated ignorance of ideology and entering in alliances both with the right and leftist forces, may serve as an illustration to the alleviation of intensity of the ideological struggle. At the same time, along with traditional factions that based on political parties, the new Duma shows the genesis of a number of lobbyist groups (agrarians, fuel and energy sector (Energy of Russia), which unquestionably will be very active.
Form the viewpoint of prospects of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of power, such a positioning in the Duma potentially may entail both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, the presidential rally increases the susceptibility of the executive power’s positions before lobbyist pressure. On the other hand, however, the pro-government factions in the Duma showed their ability, if necessity arises, to play the role of nucleus for crystalization, thus uniting the number of votes needed to block any undesirable decision. High chances of the acting President to be elected is the factor which counteracts and constrains lobbyists’ prospects ( as well as the prospects of populism). The consequences of the present decisions may remain problems of the today’s power.
In the conditions of a strong federal power, which is supported by the regions and enjoys a high rating among the population, the dependence on lobbyists and, especially, on any success of a populist policy is substantially lower this year compared with the 1996 presidential rally.
Nonetheless, there is a number of factors that do not allow a final ignorance of prospects of successful lobbyism at a scale being substantial for the economy. First, the continuation of economic growth, favorable state of affairs in the international markets help the sectoral lobbyists strengthen their positions. Secondly, one should take into account a high degree of interconnection between the power’s authority and the emergence of the military action in Chechnya and progress in the macroeconomic sphere ( the balanced budget, low inflation rate, the ongoing trend to the continuation of economic growth). Should any threat to the favorable image of the power arise, for example, because of a deterioration of the budget execution indices, it is not at all excluded that the power would opt to attract the national business’s resources to stabilize the situation. At the same time, the problems with paying off the debt arise (in 2000,the debt, indeed, has begun to grow), which may endanger the prospects of the increase of budget employees’ wages by non- inflationary methods. The prospects of tax revenues also can be questioned.
In such a situation, the signing of a series of Decrees on agri-industrial sector ( on establishment of Rosselkhozbank; on restructuring the tax indebtedness, penalties and fines; on urgent measures on holding the sowing and harvesting campaign), the situation around the aluminum deal; the non-interference policy that the government demonstrated in the notorious cases of the solution of problems of re-assignment of ownership rights by force may serve as an indicator of the potential readiness of the executive power to collaborate with groups of interest. However, it would be possible to evaluate the power’s ability to pursue a sound economic policy and follow the interests of the society as a whole only when an actual legislative process in the Parliament starts.
The state of the federal budget
VAT, special tax and excises
Taxes on foreign trade and foreign economic activities
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