Audit Chamber: Pandemic to Remodel Russia’s National Projects

The Russian Audit Chamber has uncovered holdups and glitches in the financing of President Vladimir Putin’s National Projects, which until recently were considered the main vector of the country’s development, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

According to the auditors, the federal budget’s expenditures for the implementation of the projects and the Comprehensive Plan for the modernization and expansion of the main infrastructure for the first three months of 2020 were only 15.7% fulfilled. With the growing global economic crunch, many pre-crisis plans by the authorities may become irrelevant, the Audit Chamber says in a report.

According to it, expenditures on the Healthcare nation project were 40.5% completed, Housing and urban environment saw a 32.7% fulfilment, while the Culture sector was at 20.8%. The least successful National Projects were Safe and High-Quality Roads, Digital Economy, International Cooperation and Export, and Ecology.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry does not see any particular problems in these figures. The ministry’s press service told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that assessing the execution of the federal budget’s expenditures for the first quarter is not indicative.

“Now it’s important to save the economy and the people, and nowadays the pre-crisis National Projects are fading into the background,” said MP Mikhail Schapov, member of the State Duma’s budget and tax committee. “These are long-term strategic projects, and in theory, this crisis should not affect them in any way. But everything will depend on how the global economy changes after the crisis. Perhaps, the goals and objectives of the National Projects will need to be corrected.”

“The crisis does not just provide an opportunity for economic restructuring, it rigidly dictates such restructuring as necessity. We already see the weaknesses of our economic model, its vulnerability and we understand that full-scale economic reforms are needed,” Schapov said. “The economy is primarily people and economic relations between them. We need to once again shift the focus of the bureaucratic apparatus to the interests of people,” the lawmaker added.

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