April Conference Features Discussion of Ways to Boost Budget Revenue
Budget policy remains one of the government’s key tools for improving quality of life and solving problems concerning poverty and inequality. But in order for the budget to grow, additional sources of revenue are needed. The first plenary session of the XIX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development featured a discussion of what these sources might look like.
Financing sources for economic growth can be found by redistributing current spending and directing it towards priority areas, says Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. (In an address to the Federal Assembly Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered that growth rates be increased above world averages.) Currently 33% of GDP is distributed through the budget. Additional revenue sources can be found by proving the quality of how tax and customs payments are administrated, Siluanov adds. Tax revenues from increased efficiency within the Federal Tax Service and Federal Customs Service and from the introduction of digital services have alone increased by 1.5% of GDP over the last four years. ‘A fairer distribution of the tax burden will provide an additional 1% of GDP or so through economic revitalisation,’ he adds.
Additionally, the Finance Ministry is expecting increased investment activity and more participants in infrastructure projects. ‘Infrastructure mortgages’ should help with this – talks on this matter are concluding within the government – as should a project-financing factory that is part of Vnesheconombank (VEB). The government is also promising a fiscal neutrality principle for private businesses; that is, no tax innovations will hurt the existing tax burden, Siluanov says.
In the social sphere, Siluanov promised to move towards targeted forms of social assistance, which would increase support for those who truly need it, while remaining aid can be redistributed towards education and healthcare.
The Finance Ministry underestimates how ready citizens are for partially subsidized social services, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov notes. ‘The surveys we’ve conducted show that half of citizens would approve of a 2% increase in their tax burden as long as they themselves could choose how to spend it,’ he says. ‘It goes without saying that these are local and regional taxes. It is this potential that should be utilized,’ Kuzminov concludes.
Siluanov says he is unsure that self-taxation would take off. ‘We have other areas for attracting resources. I am skeptical of increasing the burden for our citizens.’ Self-taxation could be voluntary and directed towards things such as pension savings, Siluanov says, adding that people should be given the opportunity to use these funds during their careers.
Another issue concerns the regional budgets. During the 2014-2016 crisis, the Russian regions’ budget revenue declined considerably and has only started growing over the last year. At the same time the situation varies across the different federal subjects of Russia, and Siluanov promises to help the regions find sources of revenue. ‘Tax-related changes might lead to us redistributing resources in this way [without changing the relative percentages] so that the regions have enough funding to meet their obligations on the one hand and to grow on the other,’ he notes.
Unfunded mandates are a serious problem for the regions, HSE First Vice Rector Lev Jakobson believes. They arise when the federal centre transfers the obligation to finance spending to a different regional level without reinforcing additional financing sources. ‘The breadth of authority is unbearable for the majority of regions and municipalities. Let’s look the truth in the face and make them different for different territories,’ Jakobson concludes.
As it entered its third decade of existence this year, HSE University’s annual April Conference experienced a first: it was held in an online distributed format. HSE News Service spoke with organizers and participants about the event.
HSE experts have analyzed the position of Russian non-commodity sectors in global production and opportunities for their revitalization. The researchers believe that long-term sustainable growth of its non-commodity exports can be achieved by repositioning and including them in the global value chain at some more advanced stages than the supply of raw materials and semi-finished products.
From Moscow to Brazil, South Africa, and China: Panelists Discuss Challenges and Potential for BRICS Countries in the Global Economy
On May 14, as part of the ‘World Economy’ session of the XXI April Conference 2020 an online panel attended by representatives of BRICS Network University took place. The session was devoted to the topic ‘BRICS Countries in the Global Economy’.
In a recent report, HSE experts evaluated the world’s 14 countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic based on data (including the number of recorded deaths) from May 1, 2020 or later. The report also examined 16 other countries whose experience was considered significant. While refraining from making generalizations, experts nonetheless noted that leaders in Europe and the United States have generally not responded to the situation as effectively as their Asian counterparts. Africa, meanwhile, follows its own course, while the situation in Brazil is worse.
The world’s modern food systems are going through a fundamentally new stage of technological development known as Agriculture 4.0. This digital approach relies on the use of robotechnics, the Internet of Things, biotechnologies, and other smart solutions. Is Russian agriculture ready for this transformation? What should be the government’s role in this process? These issues are the focus of the report, ‘Innovative Development of Russian Agricultural Industry. Agriculture 4.0».
April International Academic Conference is held in a distributed format this year, with some sessions broadcast online and papers and video presentations from others posted on the conference website. Professor Dr Ger Graus, first Global Director of Education at KidZania, is an invited speaker at Digital Transformation of Education session that is also conducted in this new distributed form. His paper is devoted to preparing children for digital era through non-formal education.
On April 7, 2020, the XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, organized by HSE University together with the World Bank, commenced. This year, the conference will be held in a distributed format.
‘The April Conference Will Not Only Confirm, But Strengthen Its Reputation as a Platform for Innovative Research’
Evgeny Yasin, HSE Academic Supervisor and Head of the Programme Committee of the XXI April Conference, addressed participants of the forum, which is being held in a distributed format this year.
Lev Jacobson, Deputy Head of the April Conference Programme Committee, explains the changes to the conference format.
The HSE Centre for Studies of Income and Living Standards studied the dynamics of the middle class and its behaviour with regard to paid services. The study was based on data drawn from the HSE Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) for the years 2000 to 2017, and the results were presented at the 20th April International Academic Conference hosted by HSE.