Russian bureaucrats may be reduced by 20%

President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the Russian government to prepare proposals on cutting the number of officials by 20%, following which it will be decided if such measures would be appropriate.

“I am aware that [the reduction of officials’ staff] has been partially discussed in the government. But we should envisage the final result before making any decisions,” the Russian head of state said Tuesday speaking at a meeting devoted to making a list of federal programs.

Medvedev, writes RIA Novosti, said that the proposal to reduce the number of federal officials was voiced by Vice Premier, Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin.

“Indeed, this is a rather tough measure which could help solving a whole range of tasks,” the president noted. At the same time, he went on, such decisions cannot be made “mechanically” and for financial reasons only, since people’s fates would be at issue.

But the chairman of Northstar Corporate Finance, Mark Bond, believes that the 20% cut should be only the first step on Russia’s road to real changes.

“This is the same story all around the developed world,” he said. “The old ways of doing things are finished. To resolve the situation in Europe, you need to have radical budget cuts, like the one that Germany has announced recently. But even though Russia doesn’t have as many problems as Germany, it could do a lot more in terms of getting rid of red tape. In Russia, there are huge amounts of paper every businessman has to fill in. A 20% cut in bureaucracy will not change the situation. Russia needs to get rid of 50% of it.”

Watch the full interview with Mark Bond

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Government comes under fire

Dmitry Medvedev has criticized the Russian government for its slow progress on addressing his earlier instructions over the preparation of the so-called federal targeted programs.

“The drafting of twelve new federal targeted programs is going slowly. The main problem is the lack of proper coordination,” he said.

For instance, the president said, over a year and a half ago it was decided to come up with a program to organize care for WWII graves and memorials. However, nothing has been done so far. “And this is not a question of money,” Medvedev added.

“As far as I understand, not one of the 12 programs was approved by the government as of May 31,” he said.

The Russian leader underlined that achievement of such important goals as security, modernization of economy, and support of the social sphere depends on the fulfillment of the federal programs.

“I want to be given a report on that,” Medvedev said.

Currently, 53 federal programs are in progress. The main point of launching such projects is to force the development in areas that are of priority for the state and address issues of key importance. For instance, there is a federal program on developing social infrastructure, the transport system, and the space program.