Liberal on the side: what is the role of the Minister in the government

On Tuesday, the Investigative Committee presented the Minister of economy Alexei Ulyukayev charged with receiving a bribe in the amount of $2 million the speaker is the most senior official who was detained on criminal charges, for all time of existence of Russia since 1991. For the money, according to investigators, the Minister gave a positive assessment, which allowed Rosneft to buy a stake of “Bashneft” (the cost was $5.3 billion, the transaction was closed in October). Itself the speaker does not recognize his guilt, according to his lawyer, the Minister believes what happened to him “provocation.”

Liberal or not?

The speaker is considered a person from the team of Yegor Gaidar. In 1988 he began to work in the magazine “Communist”, which came at the invitation of the future ideologue of liberal reform, and then worked for several years in the government of Gaidar. From 2000 to 2004, the speaker was the Deputy Minister of Finance Alexey Kudrin, and then until 2013, he occupied the post of first Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank. The Ministry of economic development Ulyukayev, headed by the President Vladimir Putin after the former head of the Ministry Elvira Nabiullina has moved to the Central Bank. In interview Bi-bi-si in June 2015, Ulyukayev said that Yegor Gaidar was his friend, and also call your friends Kudrin and German Gref.

The detention of the Minister of economic development is “shooting right, or rather liberals,” he said at a round table in Higher school of Economics scientific Director of the University Yevgeny Yasin. Rougher Ulyukayev about as liberal from the 1990s put the Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov: “It is the largest stump, a splinter of the Gaidar-Yeltsin era” (to quote the website of the Communist party).

“The speaker in Gaidar’s team, Ulyukayev of the Central Bank, Ulyukayev, who became the Minister of economic development, is a different speaker. As an officer with great experience, he was forced to adapt,” said the chief economist of ING Bank in Russia and CIS Dmitry Field. In comparison with the majority of the authorities of the speaker can be called a liberal, but in General “you can find more liberal people,” he said: “the Division into liberal and illiberal rather arbitrary”.

The debate about the budget

Economic liberalism is generally associated with support of the free market, private ownership, limited government intervention in the economy. The Minister Ulyukayev economic policy was a “attempts to keep elements of liberal policy” and get out of stagnation thanks to the deregulation of the economy, the head of the Economic expert group Evsey Gurvich. “The main engine of growth” for the economy of Russia will become investment, Ulyukayev wrote in an article for Vedomosti, and stimulate their needs through mechanisms of state support. The activities of foreign investors should be allowed in all sectors except directly related to national security, said in a joint article Ulyukayev and rector of the Ranepa Vladimir Mau, which was published in the journal “Questions of Economics” last year.

The Ministry Ulyukayev repeatedly disagreed on key issues of fiscal policy and economic development with the Ministry of Finance. Ulyukayev criticized the budget policy for the fact that she puts a priority on non-productive expenditure (such as expenditure on the security forces) over performance, that is, those that contribute to future GDP. He offered to protect from sequestration the cost of human capital, to spend the budget wisely on the redistribution of financial resources to priority directions “for the development of human capital, innovation, improving the quality of the business and investment climate in the country.” The Finance Ministry insists on reducing government spending, and the speaker was stipulated that investment costs must be retained. “We have inefficient costs need to be reduced. But there should be a negative selection. Now it is: we are reducing manufacturing costs and leave non-productive”, — said the Minister last summer in an interview . Schedule of deficit reduction “should not be too radical”, and the deficit can be allowed, if the authorities know how to close it, and are confident that the method of funding a few years will increase the welfare, Ulyukayev said in a recent interview with Reuters.

In social policy Ulyukayev and economic development in favor of raising the retirement age. The Minister offered the option of raising the retirement age for men and for women to 63 years after 2018.

Not the most powerful Ministry

The role of economic development in the economic debate in Russia in recent years has declined, more important is the position of the Central Bank and Finance Ministry, says chief economist at Alfa Bank Natalia Orlova. According to her, the office of Alex speaker now plays a major role in the formation of long-term economic policy initiative in this area has moved to the head of the Center for strategic development Alexey Kudrin. “It minimizes the impact of the events surrounding the Ministry of economic development”, — emphasizes the expert.

Indicative is the situation with the forecast of economic development, which is the basis of the budget. How to write “Vedomosti”, the Ministry changed it three times, adjusting to the needs of budget layout. In the September version, the Ministry expected the growth by 0.6, 1.7 and 2.1% in the next three years. After three weeks of waiting had deteriorated to 0.2, 0.9 and 1.7%, and after another week — have returned to the original indicators. As a result, the draft budget was “utilitarian” options, that is not entirely reflective of objective expectations, Ulyukayev said in an interview with Reuters.

Now the Ministry of economic development — not the most influential Department, although the speaker, a well — respected official, said Evsey Gurvich. Earlier, the Ministry had developed a reform, but they slowed down in the mid 2000-ies, and today they are not in demand, adds the source . In addition, decisions concerning economic development of the country, recently “took the business,” he says. The speaker worked in the “conservative-analytical style” and “do not take quick and drastic solutions,” said Vice-President of “Business Russia” Andrei Nazarov.

Ulyukayev did not initially support the repurchase of shares of “Bashneft”, “Rosneft”. “From my point of view, “Rosneft” — the wrong buyer for this asset,” he said in July. “State-owned companies should not participate in the privatization”, — he repeated in August. However, 30 Sep Ulyukayev said that from a formal point of view, “Rosneft” can be allowed for privatization. A source familiar with the Minister claims that the speaker was crushed, so he gave permission for the purchase of Bashneft by Rosneft.

Without the Ministry of economic development Ulyukayev

The Ministry of economic development is now temporarily headed by Deputy Minister Evgeny Elin. If the speaker will be removed from the post of economic policy in Russia will change “is quite personalized,” the new approach will depend on the new head of the Ministry, said Gurvich. It is hard to imagine that after the events of the day the speaker retain his post, said Natalia Orlova. The number of candidates to the post of Minister broad and includes officials from the Ministry and the people and more likely just an external appointment, she believes.

But President Vladimir Putin of the decision on resignation of the speaker has not yet been adopted, said his press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. This “sufficient reason,” he said (quoted by TASS). A Kremlin spokesman thus reminded of the criminal case against Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak, in 2007 he was detained on suspicion in attempt of plunder of $43,4 million from the budget, but a year later he was released and returned to work in the same position. The case against Storchak in 2011 was closed. And he was arrested the same day, and now speaker — 15 Nov.