Thursday, 3 November, the state Duma committees on international Affairs and on Affairs of the CIS discussed the draft law on the Federal budget for 2017 and the planning period of 2018 and 2019, and made him their conclusions. In them, the committees gave their assessment of the allocation of funds to the relevant articles of the budget.
More money on foreign policy
As follows from the conclusions of the committees that refer to the draft budget, funding for foreign policy activities of Russia for three years will grow by 5.8 billion rubles we are Talking about the state program “Foreign policy activities”, responsible executor is the Ministry of foreign Affairs. If this year, its volume amounted to 121.6 billion rubles, in 2017 it will be 123 billion rubles, in 2018 — of 124.8 billion rubles in 2019 — 127,5 billion rubles, follows from the budget bill. Increased spending on foreign policy is associated, according to the Chairman of the Committee on CIS Affairs Leonid Kalashnikov, including depreciate the ruble.
Why you need the program “Foreign policy activities”
The program is a plan for the funding needs of Russian diplomacy. In its current form, this plan was approved by the decree of the Russian government in April 2014. The program is divided into three “subroutines” — direction of diplomatic work. The first subroutine for the “development and implementation of state policy in the sphere of international relations”, accounting for more than half of government spending. This includes ensuring the work of embassies, the protection of Russians abroad, participation in international organizations, cultural events and even “the care of the Russian/Soviet military graves”. The second subprogramme concerns the financial commitment of Russia to the CIS countries in the framework of international agreements. The third routine relates to international humanitarian cooperation. This includes the promotion abroad of Russian science and culture, Russian language, and support international links of Russian regions.
From 2014 to 2020 for the program “Foreign policy activity” was planned to allocate a total of more than 607 billion rubles, follows from the passport document, but the annual expenditure was laid almost two times lower. For example, 73.8 per billion RUB. in 2014, 75,5 bn in 2015 and RUB 76.7 billion in 2016. By 2018, annual funding should reach the level of about 79.5 billion rubles and to stay further in the area of this figure.
The cost of Abkhazia and the CIS
Most of the next three years will increase the financing of the subprogramme on the development and implementation of state policy and normative legal regulation in the sphere of international relations. This year its budget was equal 102,85 billion. According to the explanatory Memorandum to the bill, in 2017 the budget of the subprogramme will increase by a billion (to 103.8 bn), and in 2018-2019 it will increase by almost 2 billion annually (to 105.3 billion and RUB 108 bln, respectively).
In the note to the budget the increase is attributable to spending on the supply of electricity to Abkhazia. This will deal with JSC “inter RAO UES”. In 2017 it will allocate 222 million rubles. for the supply of electricity to alleviate power shortages in Abkhazia.
Not so much will increase the funding for the second sub — execution of financial obligations to support the activities of intergovernmental structures established by the countries of the CIS. This year Russia has spent 15 billion rubles In 2017, this amount will increase to 322 million rubles (up to 15.5 billion roubles), and in subsequent years — 150-200 mln (RUB 15.7 billion in 2018, RUB 15.8 billion in 2019). The extra money will go including on the indexation of salaries of employees of interstate structures of the CIS, stated in the explanatory Memorandum.
Slightly increase funding of the third sub — programme for activities in the areas of international humanitarian cooperation and international development assistance. This year it was equal to 3.7 billion rubles by 2019, will rise to nearly 3.8 billion rubles.
Support with comments
The Committee on CIS Affairs, supported the bill on the budget, as well as the international Committee, but with comments. In its conclusion the Committee on CIS Affairs, complains that on the third subprogramme, which involves “the support of the Russian cultural and humanitarian presence abroad” and support of compatriots, the funding is not increased. Co-executor of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the subprogramme is the centre.
“Effective implementation of the Agency [with the Ministry] entrusted to him the priorities of the state foreign policy, funding for its programme activities primarily on support and popularization of Russian language, the increase in the number of Russian centers of science and culture abroad is problematic”, — reads the conclusion.
“Everyone is talking about “soft power”, but as it comes to allocating money, nobody gives. What kind of information war against us can say when we can’t allow the ruble or Russian teachers, Russian students,” complains Kalashnikov from Committee of the CIS. According to him, members of the Committee have agreed to amend the second reading of amendments to the bill.
As explained by Professor Ranhigs Alexander Mikhailenko, increase funding for foreign policy activities can be associated with two factors. On the one hand, this increased the authorities ‘ attention to diplomacy in recent years and, as a consequence, a number of important projects. On the other hand, is the crisis phenomena in the economy which inhibit the development of diplomatic activities and forced to provide the additional funds. Among the “flagship projects”, which are in dire need of additional resources, Mikhailenko calls the new concept of foreign policy (the foreign Ministry announced in the spring) and the Eurasian economic Union (EEU, designed to accelerate economic integration of post-Soviet countries).