Media Review

30 march, 2012 12:58

Izvestia : "Parliamentary factions prepare questions for Putin’s annual Duma report"

Izvestia journalists have learned which questions state deputies will ask Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his report to the State Duma.

Izvestia journalists have learned which questions state deputies will ask Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his report to the State Duma.

The deputies have compiled a list of questions for Putin during his April 11, 2012 annual report to the Duma. The relevant document listing the questions was approved at the Duma council’s latest meeting and in line with proposals from all of the four parliamentary factions. The newspaper’s journalists have read the list and counted a total of 20 questions, or five questions from each parliamentary faction.

Eleven questions deal with the economy, six questions concern domestic politics and three address state social guarantees. One question concerns the theory of an anti-Russian economic conspiracy.

United Russia party members plan to ask Putin how they can play a more active role in drafting governmental bills. They will also raise the issue of insuring pension deposits on par with bank deposits. Additionally, they will ask the prime minister about the government’s efforts to adapt the economy to World Trade Organisation requirements.

Moreover, the deputies will tell the prime minister that they have already drafted a bill equating corruption in the national defence industry to high treason, and ask Putin to support the initiative.

United Russia party members will also raise the highly important question of swelling regional and municipal budgets through the redistribution of tax proceeds. Putin will be offered four options, including a proposal to channel all profit tax proceeds into local budgets.

Communist Party members seemed to be more interested in economic matters prior to their conversation with the prime minister. Four of their five questions will deal with economic issues. First of all, party head Gennady Zyuganov’s supporters want to know if Putin has apprehensions about President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal to expedite the privatisation of several major enterprises, which was voiced during the 2011 St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The Communists will also ask how the government plans to curb electricity price hikes -- the primary source of inflation. They would like to know how Russian bank loan rates can be reduced for the business community. Current regulations have caused Russia’s corporate debt to exceed its reserves. Moreover, the Communists are concerned about recultivating 40 million hectares of misused farmland. They want to know when a cost-effective industrial policy concept will be drafted in the context of Russia’s accession to the WTO.

The Communists would also like to ask about state defence contracts. The text of one of their questions is as follows: “The 2008 state defence contracts were fulfilled by 90%. The 2009 contracts were fulfilled by 50%. The 2010 contracts were fulfilled by 30%. The 2011 contracts virtually failed. What measures does the government plan to take?”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) members are concerned about the latest economic forecasts’ accuracy. They will ask the prime minister how to make them more accurate.

In addition, the party members are worried about the lack of a national economic strategy and Gazprom’s future on the backdrop of successful US efforts to produce shale gas.

The LDPR will also ask the rather unexpected question about a possible US economic conspiracy directed against Russia.

“Oil prices are determined by the New York Stock Exchange, which has specific … owners,” LDPR members wrote in their list of questions. “The prices on metals, diamonds, timber and gold … are also determined by exchanges … Doesn’t this mean the national economy is managed from abroad?”

A Just Russia has devoted its questions to the social sector.  For instance, one question deals with rising housing and municipal utility prices and measures to prevent such hikes. Another question concerns the government’s plans to assist young families in the case of day-care centre shortages. In addition, members of Sergei Mironov’s party would like to know who is responsible for Ministry of Interior’s reform, when a bridge will be built across the Lena River in Yakutsk, and why the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development is responsible for ratifying Article 20 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The Communists do not expect Putin to answer their questions, or to address the issue of state defence contracts. However, they hope to draw the prime minister’s attention to existing problems.

“In all previous cases when we asked the prime minister questions, he tried very hard to avoid answering directly,” State Duma Deputy Vadim Solovyov, a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, told Izvestia. “I think that this will happen again. But we hope that he will take note of this problem and act accordingly.”

The LDPR refers to its pro-conspiracy statement as a “policy” document. Sergei Ivanov, an LDPR member, said that the party considers facilitating national commodity prices to be a high-priority political objective, so that these prices will not depend on foreign regulators.

“We have been talking about this for over 20 years,” Ivanov said. “Prices on Russian coal and gas should be formulated in line with the country’s interests. They should not be hostage to unsecured money bills printed by the US Federal Reserve System.”

Tax reform was also listed among the questions as it has become a key issue in the context of Russia's economic development.

“The issue of redistributing tax proceeds and channelling them into local governments highlights the next stage of economic development,” State Duma Deputy and United Russia party member Igor Igoshin, who also sits on the Duma’s  Committee on Economic Policy and Entrepreneurship, told the paper. “This is a way to move from the cost-no-problem model that now facilitates stability to a model based on incentives. This is a major national objective today.”

On April 11, Putin will deliver his 2011 report to the Duma. This will be his last major public act as prime minister.

Putin will be sworn in as president on May 7.

Yevgeny Yershov