| At present both right-wing and left-wing politicians consider
it unacceptable and untimely to revise the results of privatisation. This
was clearly stated by the SPS leader Boris Nemtsov, YABLOKO leader Grigory
Yavlinsky and even by the Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov at
the World Economic Forum held at the end of last week in Moscow.
"A decade has passed since a civil war almost erupted in this
country," Boris Nemtsov recalled. "We have gone through dual
power, inflation and two wars. Now the situation has changed radically:
GDP has increased by 35 percent over the past four or five years, and
not due to oil prices but thanks to the private sector. People in Moscow
live better than in many European capitals. The rouble is stable and Russia's
gold and currency reserves are at record highs."
Grigory Yavlinsky similarly does not deny positive changes. "Russia
today has all factors of growth," he said in his speech. "And
we have economic growth. But, in his view, it is "growth without development - like the growth we had in the Soviet years."
"We had such growth for a long time and figures demonstrated good
growth too, but we did not have qualitative growth."
However, the right-wing politicians also mentioned existing problems.
According to Nemtsov, the municipal economy was not reformed in the past,
and now it is a total shambles, just like the army.
"A considerable part of the population’s incomes do not go
into investments," YABLOKO leader Yavlinsky observed. "The need
for foreign investments may be questioned, but there are internal reserves
which are also not invested in growth. Since 1995 all investments have
been only declining. Certainly, today we have a positive trade balance,
but if oil prices fell by one third, the trade balance would contract
Nemtsov spoke also about excessive dependence of the Russian economy
on oil prices. The possibilities offered by high oil prices in the world
are not used in Russia, he said. "Neither an honest pension reform,
nor banking reform are carried out and there are no real tax cuts.”
Yavlinsky was also concerned about the dependency of the Russian economy
on the "pipe", "The impulse from the raw-materials sector does not spread to other sectors.
We don't have an independent judiciary, independent parliament or mass
media, civil control over secret services, and now are witnessing a merger
between business and the authorities. This system restricts our economic
growth and should be dismantled."
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov spoke, as always, for a return to
a planned economy.
In his opinion, the Russian government should select a scenario, which
would enable the country to progress.
To consolidate the current economic growth, taxes, and in the first
place the tax levied on the wage fund, should be cut, Nemtsov said. The
SPS leader insisted on increasing taxes for the oil sector of the economy, while the rest would be allowed to pay
a single tax; for instance an imputed tax.
Yavlinsky considers that it would be an anti-liberal action to increase
taxes for the effectively operating oil sector, as it would reduce its
effectiveness and add nothing to budget revenues. Yavlinsky considers
that Russia needs, above all a number of laws envisaging "legalization
of all deals, of everything that occurred before the mid-1990s, except
Yavlinsky laws on lobbying, the financing of political parties and the
mass media should be adopted and anti-monopoly legislation should be further
developed. Yavlinsky noted: "The main risk is to leave everything
as it is. This would mean that [Russia] will lag behind." According
to Yavlinsky, soon the YABLOKO faction plans to submit to the Duma a package
of draft laws containing amendments to a number of legislative acts to
recognise all privatisation deals for the past ten years as lawful, including
those pending in courts, but excluding murder cases.
Despite different views on the country's economy, the politicians agreed
on one thing - all talk about revising privatisation results is inadmissible.