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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992


4.2.1. Operational System of Social Indices (OSSI)


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During a period of economic instability, reliable information about the public's actual plight is a key prerequisite for the creation of an effective system of social protection and the maintenance of the region's social equilibrium.

Old information systems cannot, in principle, carry out this task, as they were geared to the idea of social immutability. A considerable amount of social statistics were classified. A whole array of indices needed to assess the real situation in different population groups were not analysed at all. In addition, many problems facing the people and local authorities today are quite unusual for this country (e.g. inflation and unemployment). Consequently relevant data have no initial basis for comparison. The development of a new system of social statistics requires time and resources. We need interim information systems which can assess existing changes. We have established an operational system of social indices (OSSI) for the region, which will fill in at least some of the gaps in this sphere.

The following trends should be monitored constantly in Nizhni Novgorod Oblast:

- consumer prices and incomes;

- consumer market;

- labour market;

- social tensions.

To expand the information basis in compliance with these indices, the following structures have been used as sources of information:

- structures dealing with social problems of specific groups (employment service, social security, etc.);

- organisations reflecting the situation in the social sphere directly or indirectly (the Central Bank, the Finance Department, the department of the Interior Minsitry, etc.);

- addditional sources of information. In particular, information should be acquired directly from enterprises in order to assess redundancies in the state sector and the scale of latent unemployment;

- special select polls, determined by social policy in Nizhni Novgorod Oblast, are used to analyse specific questions.

To control these processes, special critical points are determined which require emergency measures by local authorities. These critical point shoulds be determined for each of the selected blocks or individual indices. For example, the effectiveness of measures designed to protect the monetary incomes of the people against inflation can be measured at any specific moment via a correlation between the subsistence minimum and and actual incomes of different population groups. The percentage ratio can be used as reference point for the current three months and a means of monitoring the devaluation of monetary incomes within the given period.

Once the initial stages of the OSSI development and critical points have been drafted, they should be discussed by all concerned parties and become the subject of agreement between them.

Operational information is collected above all to choose emergency measures needed at any given moment and substantiate their use. Although this package of measures includes all the traditional elements of social policy, it involves qualitatively new methods of application. This implies the expansion of the powers of local authorities and the range of measures available; localisation, as these measures should be applied in districts and population groups, where the situation has deteriorated; a comprehensive range of measures, as the choice available depends on an assessment of the situation in all spheres of operational analysis.

On the basis of situation analysis, the OSSI should be used to recommend the following measures:

- to change laws (within the competence of local authorities);

- to introduce a system of compensations and indexation of monetary incomes (within the framework of financial possibilities and with due account of inflation);

- to introduce a system of assistance in kind and social aid;

- to create a system of job provision, training, retraining and public works.

Operational information will be supplied on a daily basis and published in the local press by decision of the Coordinating Council.

OSSI Functions

1. Operational assessment of the social situation.

2. Determination of critical trends, districts and population groups in the region.

3. Drafting proposal of emergency measures designed to influence the situation by local bodies of power. Drafting of current social policy.

4. Short-term forecasts.

5. Elaboration of a short-term programme of measures in the social sphere for the region and districts.


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