Matiyeshyn on Europe, through a Ukrainian eye

Governmental circles of Russia discuss now the draft bill “About development of Siberia and the Far East”. At the beginning of the year a political decision was made that a special structure should work on the development of Siberia and the Far East. The main priority is the construction of infrastructural objects at the specified territories. The idea was supported by V.Putin. At the beginning of February the future president declared that means of the Reserve Fund and Fund of the National Wellbeing can be used for the financing of state corporations on Siberia and the Far East. According to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, as of March 1, 2012, a total volume of the Reserve Fund makes up 62,4 billion dollars., and that of the Fund of the National Wellbeing – 89,84 billion dollars. The volume of means is amazing.

Already at the end of March Russian mass-media disseminated information that an independent noncommercial organization can be engaged in the development of Siberia and the Far East. However, actually it means the creation of the state corporation which will be directly submitted to the president of Russia, and the list of investment objects will be confirmed by the government.

On a whole the specified initiative provides for the introduction of a number of positive innovations by the government. Among the main ones are the exemption from taxes on profits, on mineral extraction, granting of privileges to concrete projects within the limits of activities of the corporation, and what’s most important, inhabitants of Siberia and the Far East will be provided with privileges on accommodation and studies. In the framework of the whole project it is planned to create 5 million workplaces. By the way, among the primary steps of development of Russia, voiced by Putin during the report on work of the government in the State Duma, is the creation of 25 million qualitative workplaces in economy in the nearest years. Moreover, variants of simplification of procedures of receiving citizenship by foreigners who will settle in the specified territories are discussed.

Along with positive moments, there are negative ones as always. There exist not unreasonable fears that the creation of the state corporation on the contrary will slow down the development of the specified territories. After all, any private investor who has a desire to work there will have the state corporation with special preferences as a competitor. Hence, nobody is talking about competition here. An accurately limited system of governmental admission to participation in the development of Siberia and the Far East will operate.

Realization of the specified project is also connected with geopolitical questions. The basic problems lie in the plane of cooperation of Russia with the countries of Asian-Pacific region. Especially this has to do with China. In one of his program articles, V.Putin already urged to more actively build communication with China on the basis of cooperation of technological and industrial potentials of both countries. Meanwhile, this cooperation is demonstrated by the saturation of the Russian market with poor-quality goods and cheap work force. Nobody hurries to share technologies. Also the realization of plans of the Russian leadership is connected with the creation and effectiveness of new international associations, such as the Eurasian economic union for example. In the realization of the development of considerable territories of Siberia and the Far East Russia can face the main problem – shortage of human resources. Unfortunately, the demographic crisis in Russia only deepens this problem. The way-out can be found in the historical experience of attraction of human potential of the countries of the former Soviet Union to the development of Siberia and the Far East. However today, these countries have their own social and economic and demographic problems. Hence, China can have all the advantages.

Strategically, the decision on the development of the infrastructure of Siberia and the Far East fits into the foreign policy concept of development of Russia, voiced by V.Putin. However, in case of the creation of the state corporation, it will be necessary to prove the efficiency of realization of the project of development of the specified territories. The experience of Russian state companies is an example here. Everything can end up right after budgets disbursement. In 2011 there was already created a financial structure – the Far East Development Fund. Despite the pumping of the Fund with means, there is no project realized by it today, although the creation of many workplaces was planned. However, the advantage in favor of the state corporation is the Russian reality now. It is paradoxical, but rigid state control at the highest level gives a chance to control corrupt practices at the level of top-management and regional power. At the same time, it will increase competition between foreign service and financial companies for participation in this mega-project.

Considering the importance and scale of the new mega-project, the creation of a new structure of development of Siberia and the Far East has every chance to be realized right after V.Putin’s inauguration. Anyways, the choice of the head of this project will show seriousness of intentions concerning the development and exploration of the major resource region of Russia.


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