Alexey Navalny published his program before our national leader, and even podgadal its publication to the traditional press conference of the Russian president (which, in my opinion, creates the greatest intrigue of the moment - will the president be asked about this program or not?).
My first impression of the program was a nuisance to myself - why could I not find the button that I could read, not the table of contents and the set of abstracts, but the program itself. Soon enough, however, I had to admit that this set of declarations was a program, and, despite a substantial increase in volume, the approach to the presentation remained the same: isolated measures are given, which are not always clearly stated, and their quantitative characteristics, as well as the ways of their coordination society, implementation methods and expected results are simply omitted. Well, since there is no substantiation base, we will have to discuss the declarations - perhaps their criticism will encourage Navalny to explain the methodology for developing these measures and give a more systematic description.
First of all, a significant difference between the economic and non-economic parts of the program is striking. The non-economic part declares a whole set of correct, in my subjective opinion, goals - from the expansion of self-government and substantial federalization to the reduction of the powers of the president and the reform of parliament. Unfortunately, sometimes these goals also suffer from vagueness and lack a mechanism for implementation; Meanwhile, each of them carries with it substantial risks, the protection against which simply must be described at the level of a serious program (unless, of course, we are not talking about a set of slogans not intended for implementation).
Refusal of the participation of higher authorities in the formation of subordinate - a beautiful declaration; it is not clear, however, how to protect oneself in such a system from local criminal groups that came to power at the regional level and the destruction of ties in the state. The statement about the “complete autonomy” of municipalities sounds altogether strange — do we create thousands of independent counties in the country, returning to the 11th century? Write about the redistribution of tax revenues so that the municipality became the main recipient of taxes, can only one who does not imagine the system of functioning of the state. Being implemented even in a country with a more or less even geographical distribution of income, such a program will leave the country without vital infrastructure and federal systems; in Russia, it also rests on the need to create a system of fundamental redistribution of taxes between the regions, which will be completely impossible if control is transferred to them over the flow of funds and the federal government is removed from the process of forming regional governance.
There are undoubtedly important things in the program. Among the most significant are judicial reform (one can argue about it, but already in this program it is described quite logically), changes to the Criminal Code (also more or less accurately described) and the reform of the FPS (not described at all, just indicated). Also important and necessary is the idea to change and adjust the system of functioning of the media; however, there remains the question of the feasibility and controllability of such a reform.
The economic part of the program looks, in my humble opinion, unlike any worse. Most of the proposed measures, mostly preserved from the first version of the document, raise serious doubts both in terms of feasibility and in terms of their usefulness, giving the impression of left-wing populist slogans a la the CPRF program. On the notorious increase in the minimum wage to 25 000 rub. (Why 25 000, not 26 000 or 24 000, remains a mystery, as well as the question of how to combine this measure of draconian cost increase for most businesses with the idea of reducing the state's influence on the economy) has already been said a lot and extremely impartial, but Alexey Navalny shows commendable for the policy of hardness and does not exchange a strong populist slogan for some kind of economic credibility.
Big questions raise a desire to collect money from businessmen (in each draft it is expressed differently, in this, in the form of a “compensation tax on the use of infrastructure created by the labor of previous generations and dishonestly privatized in 1990 and 2000”). It’s even boring to argue with this idea, to prove that in a country with an extremely low level of trust in property and a devastated judicial system, it is even boring to introduce extortion from business on the basis of “revolutionary justice”. A little more fun to ask, for example, - and what is the size of the tax? And why “to use infrastructure”, what kind of infrastructure is it and who uses it and how? And which generations are the same, and which are not the same? And what is “dishonest” privatized, if everyone has all the documents? And who will finally pay this tax, especially if one considers that the infrastructure is privatized by some people, and others use it (for example, if the water supply system is privatized, it is not the owner who uses it, but residents of the houses to which he approaches)?
A whole series of measures resembles juggling pieces of the state in front of surprised viewers. State property is sent to the FIU. No, in another section of state property is sold. No, it seems to be all the same in the FIU. Why do thousands of semi-meaningful enterprises go to the FIU? Navalny wants our PFR to be like a Norwegian pension fund. But the Norwegian pension fund in a nightmare would not have acquired Russian state property! Moreover, today the PFR for 50% is financed from the budget, including from state property revenues. What will change if it is transferred to the FIU? Will there be a new bureaucratic structure inside the FIU, managing these assets, instead of Minek? Maybe the people from Minek will immediately transfer or appoint new people from among their associates? Why are these people better than previous ones?
There is in the program a thesis inherited from the nationalist youth of Navalny about work visas for residents of Central Asia. Why they are needed is not explained, but I would venture to suggest that their introduction should in theory protect some deprived Russians from competitors receiving lower wages, as well as Russian citizens from crimes and terrorism coming to Russia from Central Asia. Alas, in reality there are no citizens of Russia who are deprived of work by visitors from Kyrgyzstan, but there are thousands of companies that without such visitors cannot find workers. Statistics show that migrants commit far fewer crimes than Russians; Russia does not suffer from imported terrorism. The decision to introduce work visas under our system of issuance will create not only a new huge bureaucratic mechanism (ay, are we still struggling with bureaucracy?) For issuing 5-7 million visas, will not only bring chaos to the labor market, but will also form a new feeder for corrupt officials unprecedented size. Let's first put things in order in the migration control systems, create an institution for the adaptation of migrants, effectively protect their rights, and then introduce restrictions (if we still want).
The program, meanwhile, says a lot about combating corruption - however, the methods it proposes are described in detail and more than once by the current president of Russia: this is an increase in the transparency and responsibility of officials. Now they somehow do not work, and it is not clear why they will earn in the future. A number of clever people say that what is needed is not transparency and responsibility, but a reduction in the role of the state. Navalny’s program is also in favor of reducing the role of the state, but in theory. In practice, the fight against corruption begins under the program from “the establishment of a new independent state structure to combat corruption” and “a new competition development authority”, that is, with the multiplication of the state, and the state’s withdrawal from the economy - with consolidation of state property in the FIU, forced increase the minimum wage, the growth of state funding for health and education, and “mortgage at 2%” (and where to get those 5% that today separate this rate from 7% of OFZ profitability? Maybe the state will subsidize this based on the fact that under 2% only lazy will not take a mortgage in a country where the forward rate on the dollar is 8%, and the state will quickly have to spread 5-10% of the budget only to this program? Due to the issue? ). By the way, the program claims that the cost of housing after a sharp decline in mortgage rates and an increase in property taxes (as stated in the program - to compensate for the reduction in rates) ... will decrease. Of course, Navalny is not the first to declare that economic laws do not work in Russia, but then why is he better than the rest? "Developers are building mostly luxury housing," - says Navalny. Really none of his associates could not show him the statistics: from 75 million square meters. m, handed over in Russia per year, more than half accounts for economy-class housing, that is, the cubicles in multi-storey panel houses, anthills, in which only poor people live in Europe; about a further 35% accounts for slightly higher class housing; the construction of lower class housing is growing by 12% per year, the rest falls by 15 – 20%. The truth is that Russia is building houses for the poor, and it is strange to suggest that this trend should be further exacerbated.
There are also numerical oddities in the program. For example, it is proposed to replace taxes on small businesses with a fixed fee in the amount of 25 000 – 30 000 rub. in year. Purely mathematically, this measure will increase taxes for everyone who earns 500 000 rubles. a year or less, will greatly reduce taxes on those who earn more, and in total will give the budget about the same amount as today. Mysteriously, why Navalny, who declares the desire to reduce inequality in a dozen places in his program, suddenly suggests that in this way significantly increase inequality in the sphere of small business.
Or, for example, the proposal to reduce insurance premiums from 30 to 15% of salaries. Since the same program (about this below) deals with a substantial increase in medical expenses, it can be assumed that 8% going to the FSS and the MHIF will not be touched. Does this mean that the FNR will go not 22%, but 7% - a threefold decrease? And this reduction is compensated by the transfer to the FIU of Rosneft and Gazprom, whose revenues are indirectly channeled to the FIU through the federal budget? And this is against the background of a reduction in labor resources and an increase in the number of pensioners? And this, together with the promise to raise pensions?
There are also frank errors in the program. When calculating the wages of a future contract army, taxes are forgotten; It is erroneously assumed that military personnel salaries can be 50% of the military budget (the army is not a business, where salaries are 50% of expenses, the army bears huge costs for armaments, infrastructure maintenance, payment of military pensions and allowances, etc.). The program angrily reports that 3,7% of GDP is spent on health care in Russia and 9% of GDP in OECD countries. The author simply looked at the wrong table - 9% of GDP in the OECD was cumulative health care costs, including both budget and private expenditures, in 1995. As for budget expenditures, according to World Bank statistics, the OECD as a whole spends on health 7,8%, but Israel - 4,7% of GDP, South Korea - 4% of GDP. It is unlikely that the author intended to force Russians to spend much more on treatment than now from their wallets; it is unlikely that he also seriously believed that it was possible to cut taxes from our level in 33% of GDP and in healthcare costs with countries where the tax burden was under 50% of GDP. We would have to master the South Korean level ...
I know what the supporters of Navalny will say: all these shortcomings, overtures to the socialists and economic mistakes can be discussed and corrected - if only we manage to come to power and hold our supporters in parliament. Our program should interest the masses, and only then we will do everything right. And here, as it seems to me, the main problem of the program is revealed: the fact is that it consistently attacks all active groups of people in favor of the mythical “people”. “On the merits” receive consistently: the federal authorities, who will be subjected to prosecution; regional authorities, which are all completely replaced; officials who will be lyustrirovat, cut and control; businessmen who are directly called thieves and will pay tribute for getting into privatization; business owners hiring migrants who will have to unfasten fatty FMS pieces for working visas; those small entrepreneurs who today earn 200 000 – 400 000 rub. per year and which, due to the reform, will pay more taxes; investors who have placed funds abroad - hunting will be announced with foreign funds, and here everyone will obviously suffer “on the way”; citizens with decent apartments, the tax on which will rise sharply to compensate for a meaningless mortgage rate; the security forces and the military, whose funding will be reduced, and themselves, apparently, expelled from work; judges who are also driven from their places together with the staff of the courts; bankers accused of “making fat”; priests and believers - the church promises to remove from everything and remove all moral prohibitions in society; patriots - they will be taken away from the mission in Ukraine and Syria, enmity with the EU and the USA and will offer Crimea to “self-identify” (here is another new state - member of the EU and NATO); liberals - they were badly called in the preamble of the program; even employees of defense enterprises are distracted - their enterprises will “compete with each other for state orders” (I would see how in Russia two competing fighter manufacturers emerge with our capabilities, choose one of them and what will happen to the second, and then looked, from whom we will choose the next time). Who will be the active minority? Pensioners remain, but they are already engaged by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, low-paid employees of state-owned companies, but their candidate is Vladimir Zhirinovsky. I am afraid that finding a voter for such a program will be difficult.
No, I am far from thinking that the program of the presidential candidate should promise everyone paradise for free. The great Churchill at one time did not promise his people anything but "sweat, blood and tears." But Churchill did it honestly, openly, for all equally, not trying to put half of the country into swindlers and idiots in his program, not manipulating poorly understood concepts and numbers and offering everyone not to redistribute the remnants, but to take responsibility. I would have waited for the same from the program of Navalny; I would have been glad to see it, but, unfortunately, I did not see it. However, this is only the first impression - it is deceptive.
The author is a financier, head of the economic program of the Carnegie Moscow Center.