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Secondly, those are lawful exceptions setby subjects of legal initiative in legislative acts (the benefits should befixed at the level of legislative acts rather than legal practical acts).

Thirdly, they serve as a complementarymechanism for the government redistribution of revenues and welfare accordingto criteria of the bureaucratic state socialit society stratified according tosocial and professional characteristics.

In the fourth place, they are accompaniedwith a facilitation of their recipients’ life, though they are not basedon the poverty level criterion adequate to a market society. These advantageschange (decrease or, in some cases, raise) the differentiation between livingstandards of single population groups, but they are not estimated according tothe level of efficiency of their performance of the noted function – they are likely to have aspontaneous nature rather than the targeted one

The system of government benefits isdesignated to partly compensate for the population’s low wages, unfavorable workingconditions, and in some cases the benefits must serve as an additionalincentive to attract a certain group of population to various kinds ofactivities and as a recognition of some population groups’ special merits. With thebeginning of reforms, the habitat of benefits (natural transfers) began to expand, and they began tobe used to alleviate defects of the state compensation system for the harmcaused to the citizens’ health by technogenous catastrophes.

Because of their insufficientflexibility, broad coverage ( orientation towards broad socio- demographiccategories of population) and lack of differentiation, the benefits often loosetheir compensatory functions; a substantial part of the transfersis allocated to support the population groups whose incomes are higherthan subsistence minimum level..

The current social protection system based oncategories is inefficient both in terms of implementation of socialpolicy and economically, and that can be proved with a whole range offacts:

  • in terms of the current income level, the proportion of therecipients of social aid in the total number of those who cannot be attributedto the poor is even higher than the proportion of the respectiverecipients among the poor. The amounts of subsidies allocated to the poor andto non-poor is practically the same;
  • the proportion of social subsidies relative to the overall volumeof the needy families’ expenses is negligible, and, according to RLMS (RussianLongitudinal Monitoring Survey), it does not exceed 2-2.5;
  1. almost 90% of all the deprived families do not receive any socialassistance.

According to some experts estimates, throughout the country on thewhole 44% of benefits related to resort and rehabilitation services falls onthe wealthiest families, while only 10% - on the most needy ones. A similarpicture is noted across other kinds of social benefits: 92% of public transportbenefits for students is allocated to the students from wealthier families,while 62% of this particular benefit for pensioners is also concentrated infamilies with the highest incomes. Hence, 2/3 of the total amount of benefitsand subsidies falls on the households whose average incomes are higher than thesubsistence minimum level. Payments and benefits for social purposes areredistributed in favor of the wealthier and wealthiest population strata, whichtestifies to the inefficient distribution of social benefits and payments, fromthe viewpoint of the struggle against poverty.

The analysis of results of the budgetsurveys conducted by Goskomstat allows possibility of an indirect estimation ofsignificance of government benefits in the population’s budgets and budgets of itssingle groups (by the number of children, income level, and across Subjects ofthe Federation). It should be noted that the amount and the proportion ofbenefits granted in compliance with the federal law will form an amount lessthan the one resulting from the budget surveys, due to inclusion in the formerthe benefits provide enterprises and institutions, and single regions. At thesame time, the noted amount may be bigger, because the budgetsurveys’ data takesinto account only actually provided benefits (it is known that inpractice a part of legislatively fixed benefits is not allocated in themajority of regions, for instance, food subsidies for pupils in schoolsand student of secondary vocational colleges). Goskomstat includes inhouseholds’ incomesthe subsidies for food, payments for public transport rides, housing, use ofresort facilities, medical services, and gifts from enterprises.

Both cash payments for food and theprovision of food coupons are attributed by Goskomstat to food subsidies, aswell as the provision of a possibility to buy food stuffs at a lower price (inthis case, an approximate price difference between the subsidized purchases andthe ones made in regular stores is estimated).

The subsidies for paying for transportexpenses include the use of a free ride by all kinds of public transport (orprovision of a travel card with a substantial discount), including the use ofofficial cars (calculated as equivalent of the public transport ride tothe office and back home), as well as the use of means of transportationprovided by enterprises and institutions for the households’ personal needs (free or with apartial payment for the rent from the households’ personal funds).

Subsidies for housing payments comprise theprivileges set in the legislative order and payments for housing (and itsrefurbishment and maintenance) at the expense of enterprises andorganizations’ funds.

The subsidies for resort and rehabilitationcomprise discounted and subsidized vouchers provided by social insuranceagencies, enterprises and institutions for rehabilitation and medical treatmentat spas and resorts, summer camps for children, and tourist excursions andtravels.

Subsidies for medical services comprisesubsidies and benefits in terms of medical and dental services provided byenterprises and organizations to their personnel, and privileges for pensionersin terms of payments for medicines, exclusive of the costs of free medicalservices provided to the population as per the compulsory medical insuranceprocedures.

The gifts from enterprises and charityfoundations comprise all foodstuffs and goods, including fuel, received gratis,without any costs incurred by the household, as well as purchases of housing atthe expense of enterprises and institutions’ funds.

As of early 1999, the average costs forsubsidies and benefits provided in natural equivalent accounted for RUR11 amonth per household member, which made up 1.1% of disposable resources and 1.3%of expenses on final consumption, while as long as the families with childrenare concerned, the respective share accounted for: for families with 1 child-RUR 10.9 ( 1.1% of disposable resources and 1.3% of spending on finalconsumption); for families with 2 children- RUR 10.8 (1.5% and 1.7%),with 3 children- 11.6 ( 2.3% and 2.5%), with 4 and more children- RUR 7 ( 1.6%and 1.9%), respectively, while for the households with their disposableresources being below subsistence level- RUR 5.1 (1.6 and 1.8%).

In all subsidies and benefits hold aninsignificant proportion in the population’s budgets. It should also benoted that they are poorly differentiated with regard to the number of childrenin a family (it is the families with 3 children who have the biggest proportionof subsidies and benefits in their disposable resources and spending on finalconsumption). The subsidies and benefits form the smallest amount in case ofthe families with 4 and more children – RUR 7 a month per householdmember ( which is even lower than for the families with 1 child), while theyaccount for 1.6 and 1.9% in terms of their proportion in resources andexpenses.

At the same time the amount of subsidiesand benefits raise along with the growth in the disposable income per capitafrom 4.6 RUR a month up to 18.5 RUR, i.e. the benefits are received by thewealthiest households, while given that 1 household member spends as much as 41RUR a month to pay for housing and communal services on average, the respectivesubsidies and benefits per 1 person eligible to them are worth a total of 41RUR The average costs of medical services for a household member amount to 4.4RUR while the respective subsidies and benefits worth a total of 262.2 RUR. Themonthly payments for public transport services per 1 person amount to26.3 RUR, while the respective subsidies and benefits total 63.3 RUR per personeligible to those. In the area of resort and rehabilitation services, theaverage monthly costs per person are RUR 4/5, while the respective subsidiesand benefits account for 671.7 Rb. per a recipient (therefore, only 0.1% of thetotal population enjoy these privileges).

Hence, subsidies and benefits play animportant part in contracting the respective expenses in the budgets of thoseeligible to them and their households, and even raise their incomes.

Depending on their objects, the existingbenefits can be>

  1. In thearea of monetary income- beneficial taxation.
  2. In thearea of monetary expenses – exemption (or discounts) from the payment for housing andcommunal services, payment for private telephone, extra-departmentalsecurity, free use of public transportation, free (discounted) use of suburbantransport, free (discounted) travel cards for inter-city transport, discounteduse during autumn - wintr season of inter-city transport without limitation ofthe number of rides, monetary compensation for the housing rent (sub-rent),exemption from the payment for pre-school institutions.
  3. In thearea of the property provision – capital refurbishment of housing under the terms determined bylocal self-governance bodies, an early free installation of private telephone,free provision of transport due to medical indications.
  4. In theemployment and labor area – four additional paid vacation days per month for the parents ofdisabled children, an additional paid vacation and an additional compensationfor the record of work in a zone with a special socio-economicstatus.
  5. In thearea of healthcare –a free provision (rebates) with medicines, free manufacturing and repair(rebates) of dental prostheses, provision of a free stay at a resort andrehabilitation facility, monetary compensation for medical treatment duringvacations, compensation for the harm to those suffered from the nuclear weaponstests, operations of nuclear units and liquidation of nucleardisasters.
  1. In theconsumption area – afree provision of children with special dairy baby food, compensation paymentsfor pupils in schools and secondary vocational colleges, free food ateducational institutions, free provision of pupils in schools (for the familieswith at least three children) with a uniform or its substitutes.
  2. In theeducational area – aprivileged enrollment to the higher and secondary special educationalinstitutions for some categories of the population (Chernobyl people,children of persons killed in military conflicts, from families with at leastthree children, orphans, etc.)
  3. It is thecomplex of benefits in the area of regulation of regional conditions of life(climate, environmental pollution, regional conflicts) that should be singledout: that is, benefits to Chernobyl persons and other categories equaled tothem, victims of social conflicts – refugees, compulsory migrants working in the far North and areasequaled to that, etc.

As concerns their recipients, the benefits can be divided intosocial ones and those granted on the basis of profession. It should be notedthat the correlation between them is unequal: according to some experts, of theoverall number of recipients, the social ones account for 94%, while only 6%falls on the citizens who have a right for benefits due to their professionalactivities.

In compliance with the federal law, thebenefits must be granted to the following categories of residents: disabled,participants in the Great Patriotic war and members of their families, disabledchildren aged under 16, persons suffered from radiation, families with at leastthree children, pregnant women, refugees, unemployed, veterans of labor, formeryoung prisoners of nazism, veterans of military operations in territories ofother countries, Heroes of the Soviet Union and heroes of the Socialist Labor,persons decorated with the full set of the Order of Glory, personsdecorated with medals For the Defense of Leningrad, For the Victory OverGermany, For the Victory over Japan, with the sign To the Resident of theBlocked Leningrad, and persons recognized as victims of political repressionand rehabilitated ones.

In addition, there is a considerable categoryof recipients of benefits that enjoy them due to their profession: militarypersonnel, police, fire brigades, judges, prosecutors, customs officers, etc.,as well as those who work at noxious and dangerous production facilities and inthe areas of the Far North and location equaled to them.

Along with the traditional groups ofresidents eligible to benefits, there appeared new numerous strata of thepopulation that are in need of a single or a short-term material support due tothe circumstances that caused their poverty or sharply deteriorated theirwell-being. Those are unemployed, refugees from the areas experiencing socialconflicts and natural calamities, and those who need a costly medical treatment(surgery, diagnostic treatment, etc.), and others.

Of the aforementioned groups of thepopulation, the largest ones are:

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