The right of the respective categories ofresidents for benefits related to payments for communication services might beimplemented by providing a compensation for communication services bothdirectly to the beneficiary and to the organization that delivers therespective beneficial services. The monetary compensation to the beneficialcategories of residents for the costs they incurred to pay for thecommunication services should be ensured in a volume set by legislative acts,entities that carry out the respective payments (pensions, wages, allowances,etc.). Should the resident have a right for the benefit based on a few groundsfor the same kind of benefit, he (she) may use just one of them, at his (her)own choice, to enjoy the benefit.
The implementation of the proposed procedureswould require amending a number of the current federal laws and adoption of anumber of related acts that should regulate the mechanism of the provision ofthe respective benefits.
The concept for the draft federal law “Onamending legislative acts of RF on the provision of social benefits related topayments for communication services”
The bill should provide the introduction ofnew procedures for the provision of social benefits related to payments forcommunication services: the natural benefits set in a form of rebates for therespective categories of residents should be transformed into monetary form.Such benefits should be delivered by providing the residents with the right forcompensation for their costs for communication services.
That necessitates the following amendments:the beneficial categories of residents should be granted with a right for thecompensation for 50% (or 100%) of the costs for the access to the telephonenetwork and payments for the use of the telephone according to the proceduresand under the terms set by the RF Government. The said amendments should beintroduced to the following legislative acts:
Federal law of November 24, 1995, $ 181 FZ “On Social Protectionof Disabled of RF”;
Law of the RF of May 15, 1991 # 1244-1 “On Social Protection ofthe Citizens Suffered from the Radiation Effect Due to the Chernobyl PowerPlant Disaster”;
Federal law of May 25, 1998, # 76-FZ “On the Status of MilitaryStaff”
Federal law of January 10, 1996 # 6-FZ “On Additional Guaranteesof Social Protection of Judges and Court Clerks in the RussianFederation”;
Law of the RF of June 24, 1993 # 5328-1 “On Federal Bodies of TaxPolice”
6. Federal law of January 17, 1992, #2202-1 “On Prosecutor’s Offices in RF”
7. Law of the RF of October 18, 1991 #17621-1 “On Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression”;
8. Law of the RF of April 18, 1991 # 1206-1“On Militia”
The concept the draft Resolution of the RFGovernment “On procedures for the reimbursement of expenditure related to theprovision of benefits related to the payments for communicationservices”.
1. To carry out the provision of benefitsrelated to the payments for communication services, it is necessary toprovide in the federal budget and budgets of the RF Subjects for next fiscalyear the respective funds for the reimbursement of expenditures of theexecutive power agencies and other entities (social support agencies, militaryregistration and enlistment offices, etc.) (according to theirapplications), in which the beneficial categories of residents carry on (carried on) their service, are employed, enlisted, etc..
2. The categories of residents that incompliance with the current law are eligible for benefits related to theinstallment of private telephones in their places (provision of the access tothe telephone network) and to the charge for the use of thetelephone are provided with compensations ( the respective monetary amounts)payable via the offices (entities) where they are employed (carry on theirservice), social support agencies and other entities against thedocuments (subscription and payment books, receipts) proving the payment forthe said services.
2. Methodologicalaspects of social assistance targeting (separate note)
As has been stated above solution of theproblem of unfunded mandates pre-supposes optimization and systematization ofdifferent payments, benefits, compensations and privileges. On the basis ofsuch analysis and the practice for financing of various social assistancemeasures, the procedure of payment of a comprehensive (extreme) poverty benefitcan be defined. Such benefit must include a number of payments done from thebudgets of the subjects of the Russian Federation. All subjects of the RussianFederation must adopt the same general principles for granting socialassistance and the same sources of the assistance financing must beestablished. The main condition for the success of the reform of the socialsafety net must be a definition of the circle of people eligible for theassistance and transition to a targeted social benefit.
While adopting the targeted approach thesocial assistance is being granted to a household based on two main conditions.First, average per capita aggregate household income must be below thesubsistence minimum specified by a corresponding subject of the RussianFederation in accordance with the Federal Law “On the Subsistence Minimum inthe Russian Federation” (Article 6). Second, targeted assistance is allocatedonly in situations (temporary or permanent) of difficult life conditions whichcan not be surpassed independently: disability, inability of single citizens toself-service due to old age, illness; orphans; loss of a bread-winner. It isenvisaged that the able-bodied members of the family have used all means toovercome a difficult life situation independently.
In case there are sufficient financialresources in the regional program budget for targeted social assistance eachfamily that have a status of “needy” a poverty benefit is assigned and paid inthe size which amounts to a difference between the subsistence minimum of thatfamily and its total household income.
In case there are insufficient financialresources the poverty benefit is assigned and paid to the families which havethe largest deficit between the household income and the subsistence minimum.The number of families covered by the targeted social assistance will bedefined by real financial resources of each regional program of socialassistance.
In that situation the size of the assignedhousehold benefit can be assessed as a difference between a share of householdincome and the subsistence minimum. The share of the subsistence minimum usedin those calculations becomes an administrative benchmark of poverty for agiven region for a given period of time. In practice in order to select themost needy households an index equivalent to a half of the subsistence minimumis being adopted. It is obvious, that the benchmark can not be below thatamount because the use of the subsistence minimum looses all sense.
The size of administrative povertybenchmark established for each period of granting targeted social assistancemust be specified by a normative act of a subject of the RussianFederation.
Between 1997-1998 in three regions ofRussia – KomiRepublic, Volgogradskaya and Voronezh Oblasts – a broad test program forgranting targeted social assistance to the population was implemented. Theprogram was implemented in the framework of IBRD SPAL (project forrestructuring of social protection system). An original methodology for povertyassessment was tested in each of the given regions.
None of the methodologies used in the pilotprojects has addressed the methods of identifying subsistence minimum and hasused its size as specified by regulatory documents of those particular subjectsof the Russian Federation where the pilot projects were implemented.
For the pilot project implemented in KomiRepublic a specific subsistence minimum was set for each district by aResolution of its Government, due to the fact that the territory of theRepublic is divided into three nature and climate zones which are characterizedby sharp differences in living conditions of the population and development ofeconomic framework. As a result, territorial differentiation of the subsistenceminimum was also considerable: in the northern and southern districts thedifference exceeded a factor of 1.5.
It is worth noting that sometimes, due tobudgetary constraints, in order to identify the category of the poor, or toallocate targeted assistance, per capita incomes were correlated not with thesubsistence amount, but with a relative value established by legislation of theparticular subject of the Russian Federation and tied up to the subsistencelevel.
In Komi Republic this value was theguaranteed per capita income (GPI), which was established quarterly by aResolution of the Head of Komi Republic and was similar to the subsistencelevel differentiated by a district, depending on nature and climate conditionsand cost of living in various districts of the Republic. The GPI dynamicsdepended on budgetary capacity of the Republic and the number of the needy.Thus, in April 1997 the average GPI amount in Komi Republic came to 170Rubles/month. From January to August 1998, averaged GPI remained at 230Rubles, varying from 218.14 Rubles in the South of the Republic to 296.39Rubles in the North.1
The average (among nature andclimate zones and social demographic groups of the population) subsistenceminimum in the region increased from 439.9 up to 461 Rubles. In compliance withthe Law of Komi Republic on subsistence minimum, the status of the poor wasgranted in the region to families with per capita income below the subsistenceminimum. As for the poverty benefit, it was assigned to families with percapita incomes below the GPI.
In Volgograd Oblast two methods for benefitallocation were applied: a) the proxy means test in the territory of theCentral district of the city of Volgograd, in the town of Volzhsky and inIlovlin district and b) the Unified Procedure for providing targeted socialassistance to the poorest categories of the population (hereinafter– the “UnifiedProcedure”) in the other districts of the Oblast. In the regions where proxymeans test was used, the value similar to the GPI of Komi Republic wasidentified as administrative poverty line equal to half the subsistence minimumfor the Oblast population which was averaged for different social demographicgroups. During the period of pilot implementation it increased from 330 Rublesin September 1997 up to 371 Rubles in August 1998. The poor, according to theproxy means test conditions, were the families with per capita money incomebelow the administrative poverty line (APL).
In compliance with the Unified Procedureenacted by administration of Volgograd Oblast, eligibility was granted not tohouseholds, but to individuals with per capita money income below thesubsistence level and falling under one of the following categories of thepopulation:
• disabled children under 16,disabled from childhood, disabled of groups I and II due to an industrialaccident and a general disease;
children under 16 (schoolchildren andstudents – under 18)of single mothers, widows, widowers, and children from large families;
child orphans under tutorship and childrenwhose parents were deprived of parent rights or are wanted by thepolice;
• single pensioners, childlessmarried couples over 65;
• unemployed pregnantwomen;
• able-bodied individuals takingcare of group I invalids, disabled children under 16, elderly individuals over80;
• children from problem families;
• parents of children perished whenperforming state duties.
During pilot project implementation inVoronezh Oblast targeted social assistance was rendered to certain categoriesof the population falling under the vulnerable categories:
• disabled children under16;
• non-employed disabled of groups Iand II;
• disabled suffering from diabetesmellitus;
• children of singleparents;
• children from largefamilies;
• children under 16 suffering fromleukosis and oncologic diseases;
• child orphans under tutorship andchildren of parents deprived of their parent rights;
• children fromstudents’ families,where both parents study at day-time;
• pregnant women;
• women caring after children under18 months;
• able to work individuals takingcare of invalids of group1, disabled children under 16, elderly individualsover 80;
• lonely pensioners, lonely marriedcouples of pension age;
• families with 2 or more minorchildren, provided both employed parents have not received salaries for thelast three months prior to the date of application;
• unemployed disabled ofgroup III.
The amount of per capita income of thehousehold of an individual categorized as socially vulnerable was compared withthe subsistence minimum established by the regional administration. In VoronezhOblast, subsistence minimum increased from 313.4 Rubles in September 1997 up to332.3 Rubles in August 1998, or by 6 per cent.
During pilot project implementation inVoronezh Oblast, in order to facilitate the income calculation procedure, thead-hoc commissions established under the local social assistance agencies hadthe right to deny eligibility to households having in their ownership anadditional housing facility (a house, a flat, a country house); a car (inoperating condition and not owned by a disabled person); a heated garage; bankmonetary deposits exceeding minimum wage ten-fold.).
So, eligibilty conditions under the rulesestablished in Voronezh Oblast and three districts of Volgograd Oblastcovered by the Unified Procedure were similar in many respects. However,conditions set up by the Unified Procedure were much stricter. This relatesboth to the categories of citizens eligible for the targeted assistance and toconditions relating to the income of citizens belonging to thatcategory.
The size of poverty benefits was alsodetermined by regulatory documents of regions at sub-federal level where thepilots were implemented. Understandably, it depended on budgetary capacity ofthe regions.
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