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Russia to invest more than $200 billion in fighting poverty

Russia to invest more than $200 billion in fighting poverty
The Russian government is to spend a total of 15.3 trillion rubles (nearly $207 billion) over five years to reduce poverty and boost citizens’ real incomes, the country’s Accounts Chamber has said in its latest report.

The document, released by the agency on Thursday, says the measures, to be implemented via national and federal projects as well as state programs, are set to help reduce the number of Russians with incomes below the subsistence level.

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According to the analysts’ calculations, poverty levels could fall by 2.32 percentage points, while real disposable incomes would increase by 1.04 percent from poverty levels. Additional help to poor families could further alleviate the situation, leading to a reduction of poverty by 1.99 percent and growth of real disposable incomes by 0.82 percent, the document envisages.

As many as 20 million Russians are living in poverty, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin pointed out during his marathon news conference earlier this month. He said that the country must cut these levels by half by the end of the next decade, from 13.5 percent to 6.5 percent of the population. Putin initially wanted to reach the ambitious goal by 2024, but some politicians later asserted that this could be too hard.

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Assessing the anti-poverty policies, Russia’s Accounts Chamber said that not all the measures have proved to be effective. It questions the effectiveness of nearly a third of them, noting that they lack clear impact on improving citizens’ livelihoods. Moreover, the auditors noted that one fifth of Russian households classified as poor did not get any financial aid from 2014 to 2018.

Russia cannot reach its poverty eradication goals based on its economic growth alone, the head of the Accounts Chamber –and ex-finance minister – Alexei Kudrin, said in the report. He advised the government to not only expand the existing social support programs, but also to make them more targeted.

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