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A. Lavrov, J. Litwack, D. Sutherland

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OECD CENTRE FOR CO-OPERATION WITH NON-MEMBERS

ЦЕНТР ПО СОТРУДНИЧЕСТВУ СО СТРАНАМИ НЕ ВХОДЯЩИМИ В ОЭСР

A. Lavrov, J. Litwack, D. Sutherland

Fiscal Federalist Relations in Russia:

A Case for Subnational Autonomy

А. Лавров, Дж. Литвак, Д. Сазерлэнд

Межбюджетные отношения в России:

Необходимость налогово-бюджетной автономии

субнациональных властей

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2001

Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Economiques

Организация Экономического Сотрудничества и Развития

Fiscal Federalist Relations in Russia:

A Case for Subnational Autonomy

Aleksei Lavrov

Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation*

Moscow

John M. Litwack

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)*

Paris

Douglas Sutherland

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)*

Paris

Межбюджетные отношения в России:

необходимость налогово-бюджетной автономии

субнациональных властей

Алексей Лавров

Министерство финансов Российской Федерации*

Москва

Джон М. Литвак

Организация экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР)*

Париж

Дуглас Сазерлэнд

Организация экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР)*

Париж

January 2001/ Январь 2001

* The ideas contained in this paper do not necessarily coincide with official positions of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (Изложенные в настоящей работе положения и выводы не обязательно совпадают с официальными позициями Министерства финансов Российской Федерации или Организации экономического сотрудничества и развития.)

Foreword

In a federation as large and diverse as Russia, the policies of regional and local governments play a key role in determining economic outcomes. The state of intergovernmental and fiscal federalist relations directly affects the nature of these policies. Several existing studies highlight common problems in the conduct of regional and local state organs in Russia as key obstacles to the improvement of the business and investment climate. In this light, since early 1998, the Economics Department of the OECD has been carrying out special work on fiscal federalism and regional finance in the Russian Federation as part of a programme of the OECD Centre for Co-operation with Non-Members (CCNM). This work has involved the close co-operation of the Russian government, especially the Ministry of Finance, 10 representative Subjects of the Federation, and a number of local administrations during 1998-2000. The primary objectives have been a better understanding of problems in budgetary finance at the subnational level, the motivations behind regional and local economic policies, and the implications for reform of fiscal federalist relations.

The first results of this work were published in March 2000 in chapters 2 and 3 of the OECD Economic Survey of the Russian Federation. This paper prepared by Alexei Lavrov, Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, John Litwack and Douglas Sutherland of the OECD Economics Department, is a continuation of this work. It focuses on issues central to the current ambitious plan for the comprehensive reform of fiscal federalist relations included in the new Economic Programme of the Russian Government. We hope that this work may help to inform the policy debate at this crucial stage of Russia’s economic transition and reform of interbudgetary relations.

Eric Burgeat

Director

OECD Centre for Co-operation with Non-Members

Предисловие

В таких крупных и внутренне неоднородных федеративных государствах, как Россия, проводимая на региональном и местном уровне политика имеет исключительно важное значение для экономического развития. Состояние межбюджетных отношений оказывает на нее прямое воздействие. В ряде ранее опубликованных работ проблемы, связанные с деятельностью региональных и местных властей, были определены в качестве одного из существенных препятствий для улучшения предпринимательского и инвестиционного климата в России. С учетом этого, в 1998-2000 гг. Экономический департамент ОЭСР в рамках общей программы Центра по сотрудничеству со странами, не входящими в ОЭСР, провел, в тесном взаимодействии с Правительством Российской Федерации, прежде всего, Минфином России, 10-ю субъектами Федерации, отражающими все многообразие российских регионов, а также местными органами власти углубленное исследование проблем бюджетного федерализма и региональных финансов России. Основными его целями были выявление ключевых проблем субнациональных финансов, анализ условий и стимулов проводимой на региональном и местном уровне экономической политики, выработка рекомендаций по реформированию межбюджетных отношений в России.

Первые результаты этого исследования были опубликованы в марте 2000 года в главе 2 и главе 3 подготовленного ОЭСР Обзора экономики Российской Федерации. Настоящая работа, подготовленная Алексеем Лавровым (Министерство финансов Российской Федерации), Джоном Литваком и Дугласом Сазерлэндом (Экономический департамент ОЭСР), является продолжением данного исследования. Она посвящена ключевым вопросам намеченной в новой экономической Программе российского Правительства радикальной реформе межбюджетных отншений. Мы надеемся, что эта работа поможет лучше понять связанные с разработкой и реализацией этой реформы проблем и внесет свой вклад в обсуждение путей их решения на одном из наиболее важных этапов проводимых в России экономических преобразований.

Эрик Буржат

Директор

Центра по сотрудничеству со станами, не входящими в ОЭСР

Table of contents

Межбюджетные отношения в России: 3

необходимость налогово-бюджетной автономии 3

субнациональных властей 3

Алексей Лавров 3

Министерство финансов Российской Федерации* 3

Москва 3

Джон М. Литвак 3

Организация экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР)* 3

Париж 3

Дуглас Сазерлэнд 3

Организация экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР)* 3

FISCAL FEDERALISTYLE="RELATIONS IN RUSSIA:
A CASE FOR SUBNATIONAL AUTONOMY 7

I) Introduction 7

II) The state of fiscal federalist relations in Russia 8

III) What type of reform is needed? 16

IV) A general proposal for reform 20

V) The economic programme of the Russian government of 2000 and prospects for reform 26

Межбюджетные отношения в России: 28

необходимость налогово-бюджетной автономии 28

субнациональных властей 28

I) Введение 28

II) Межбюджетные отношения в России: современное состояние 29

III) Какой тип реформ необходим российскому бюджетному федерализму? 40

IV) Основные направления реформы межбюджетных отношений 45

V) Экономическая программа российского правительства 2000 года и перспективы реформы межбюджетных отношений 51

References/Библиография: 54

Содержание

Межбюджетные отношения в России: 3

необходимость налогово-бюджетной автономии 3

субнациональных властей 3

Алексей Лавров 3

Министерство финансов Российской Федерации* 3

Москва 3

Джон М. Литвак 3

Организация экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР)* 3

Париж 3

Дуглас Сазерлэнд 3

Организация экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР)* 3

FISCAL FEDERALISTYLE="RELATIONS IN RUSSIA:
A CASE FOR SUBNATIONAL AUTONOMY 7

I) Introduction 7

II) The state of fiscal federalist relations in Russia 8

III) What type of reform is needed? 16

IV) A general proposal for reform 20

V) The economic programme of the Russian government of 2000 and prospects for reform 26

Межбюджетные отношения в России: 28

необходимость налогово-бюджетной автономии 28

субнациональных властей 28

I) Введение 28

II) Межбюджетные отношения в России: современное состояние 29

III) Какой тип реформ необходим российскому бюджетному федерализму? 40

IV) Основные направления реформы межбюджетных отношений 45

V) Экономическая программа российского правительства 2000 года и перспективы реформы межбюджетных отношений 51

References/Библиография: 54

FISCAL FEDERALISTYLE="RELATIONS IN RUSSIA:
A CASE FOR SUBNATIONAL AUTONOMY

I) Introduction

A number of studies have identified the state of fiscal federalist relations as a major obstacle to successful economic transition in the Russian Federation.1 The current system offers weak incentives to regional and local levels of government for responsible budgetary management and the adoption of policies conducive to entrepreneurship, fair competition, and the development of new private firms. This finds reflection in a poor climate for business and investment in Russia compared to a number of other transition economies, including excessive entry barriers, licenses, fees, taxes, and various types of extortion.2 A major improvement of the climate for entrepreneurship and investment in Russia requires changes in the conditions under which regional and local Russian officials operate. Such is the motivation for a fundamental reform in fiscal federalist relations outlined in the new Economic Programme of the Russian government (Программа…(2000)).

As Russia stands poised to embark on these reforms, a number of recent studies in economics and political economy have raised questions about previously accepted wisdom and practices in the area of fiscal federalism. Many of the relatively new ideas concern precisely developing or transition countries that are still in the process of building market institutions, while at the same time struggling to achieve lasting stabilisation and growth. An important strand in this literature proposes that a properly designed decentralisation in fiscal federalist relations can effectively serve as an engine for market reform and growth (Weingast (1995), Monitola, Qian, and Weingast, (1995)). On the other hand, a number of other studies warn of the dangers of decentralisation, again often focusing precisely on problems in developing or transition economies (Tanzi (1995), Prud’homme (1995), Fukasaku and de Mello Jr. (1998)). The relative advantages and disadvantages of decentralisation also underlie current policy debates within Russia. Is the cure for poor economic policies and behaviour of regional and local administrations a crackdown by the central government or a more effective and rational decentralisation? Recent Russian reform documents and initiatives contain an often confusing mix of proposals for greater subnational autonomy and measures aimed at increasing central control. Indeed, the appropriate reform in Russia would most likely involve a certain combination of the two. But how should they be optimally combined?

This paper considers the question posed above through an examination of the current state of fiscal federalist relations in Russia and an evaluation of basic reform options in light of the relevant literature. We conclude that the Russian system of interbudgetary relations indeed stands to profit greatly from an explicit decentralisation in decision-making authority. But the particular characteristics of the Russia economy suggest accompanying this decentralisation with a package of additional measures to ensure overall financial control, the achievement of basic social policy goals, and the proper alignment of incentives for state organs. This entails a dual approach that simultaneously creates genuine autonomy and responsibility at lower levels of government, while centralising to the federal level a greater share of resources, particularly in the short and medium term. A longer-term strategy should gradually increase in the share of resources in subnational budgets, as institutions for subnational finance and responsibility become stronger, more durable macroeconomic stability is achieved, and social distress among the population subsides. The strategy outlined in this paper is consistent with, and builds on, recommendations in OECD (2000b) and the general directions set out in the Economic Programme of the Russian government (Программа …2000).

The following section briefly describes the state of fiscal federalist relations in Russia, drawing upon both OECD (2000b) and more recent information. The next section turns to the general question of decentralisation for the case of Russia. Final sections outline a comprehensive direction of reform and discuss current strategies and measures of the Russian government.

II) The state of fiscal federalist relations in Russia

The ministerial product-line hierarchy of the Soviet system left little room for any sort of regional or local autonomy. In effect, all state revenue was first centralised and then allocated according to the national plan. Subnational administrations began to play an increasing role in resource allocation with the weakening of the product-line ministries in the 1980s. This process intensified during the transition to a market economy in the 1990s, leading to a significant devolution of effective power and authority to the regional (Subject of the Federation) level of government. By and large, this devolution of power did not follow a specific plan or central legislation, instead deriving from strong autonomous centrifugal forces that followed a weakening of the central government and its corresponding inability to meet a large part of former expenditure obligations. In a rather chaotic environment, regions lobbied for greater shares and control of revenue through bilateral agreements with the centre, while the federal government continually pushed expenditure responsibilities downward.

Official legislation evolved along with this process, but generally opposed this chaotic decentralisation process through measures aimed at bringing regional and local finance under greater central control. One important accomplishment since the mid-1990s has been the creation of somewhat more uniform rules for revenue sharing and expenditure assignments for all Subjects of the Federation. These rules have, to a large degree, replaced the separate bilateral agreements of the past.3 But legislation and actual practice in Russian fiscal federalist relations still remain rather far apart in many areas. Therefore, an understanding and assessment of the state of fiscal federalism in Russia requires a distinction between the system as it exists on paper, according to various laws and regulations, and how it actually works in practice. A much more detailed treatment of a number of the issues in this section can be found in OECD (2000b). In theory, the current system of fiscal federalist relations is distinguished by an extremely high degree of central control over subnational budgets. In practice, subnational administrations have ample means to circumvent this control. The nature of this game accounts for important distortions in the incentives of state officials at regional and local levels.

The Russian fiscal federalist system now consists of three main levels: federal, 89 regions (Subjects of the Federation), including 9 autonomous okrugs that are considered part of larger subjects, and several thousand local administrations. In various contexts, however, the system may need to be viewed as something between a 2 and 4-5 tier hierarchy. On the one hand, there is federal legislation that refers to “consolidated (regional and local) budgets of Subjects of the Federation” as one legal entity. On the other hand, actual administrative structure varies from region to region, with some Subjects of the Federation interacting directly with a series of local (third-tier) municipalities and other regions where only larger cities and districts have municipality status, along with a possible subdivision into smaller subordinate administrations. A mixture of these two models is also possible.4 A typical Russian region will have one or two strong cities or districts that supply the vast majority of tax revenue, while most of the remaining districts, usually without any sort of real tax base, are financed primarily by the regional budget.5

Figure 1: The share of subnational budgets in consolidated state revenue (before transfers) and expenditures in selected countries

The two most commonly employed measures of fiscal decentralisation in applied economic studies are the share of subnational budgets in consolidated revenue and expenditures and the degree to which subnational budgets consist of revenue raised on their territories as opposed to transfers. By both of these (aggregate) measures, the Russian system appears rather decentralised (Figures 1 and 2), at least at the regional (Subject of the Federation) level. In the 1990s, the share of consolidated subnational revenue (before transfers) in all state revenue gradually increased from 40 to 56 per cent in 1998, before falling back to 49 per cent in 1999. This share has decreased somewhat again in 2000, due in large part to higher federal revenues from export taxes and some recent changes in tax legislation, but remains well above 40 per cent. As shown in Figure 1, this places Russia close to China and a number of developed federations, such as Germany and the United States, and above Brazil, India, and Mexico. The comparative share of subnational expenditures is lower, reflecting a relatively low average share of transfers in subnational revenue (Figure 2). The share of federal transfers in aggregate subnational (consolidated regional) revenue stood at roughly 15 per cent in 1999. This can be contrasted with India, China, and Mexico, where transfers account for over 30 per cent of subnational revenue, as well as Brazil where they account for over 25 per cent. But a rather high degree of variance does exist across different Subjects of the Federation according to this measure. While transfers account for less than 10 per cent of the revenues of many Subjects of the Federation, this measure reaches 50-60 per cent for over 20 of the least developed regions. The variance in local transfers is even greater, with a number of rural municipalities receiving transfers accounting for over 80 per cent of revenue.

Figure 2: The share of transfers in consolidated regional state revenues in selected countries

Measures of decentralisation according to (formal) subnational autonomy tell another story altogether. Here, the legacy of the over-centralised Soviet system survives, further bolstered by a number of measures in the second half of the 1990s that place even further limitations on the autonomy of subnational administrations. The vast majority of subnational revenue and expenditure obligations are determined by laws and regulations determined by a higher level of government, most notably the federal level. A single federal tax body (ministry) collects all taxes, transferring the majority of this revenue to the federal treasury, where it is then allocated to various budgets. The federal government sets the rates and sharing rules of the major taxes as a part of the annual federal budget law. As shown in Table 1, only roughly 15 per cent of regional and local (explicit) revenue derives from taxes over which the relevant administrations have any sort of real decision-making authority, and even these taxes are usually rigidly regulated from above or subject of federal ceilings. The new Tax Code of 1999 (Part I) and 2000 (Part II) reinforced the narrow limits on subnational autonomy, restricting subnational taxes and their methodology to a short possible list. The government further plans to replace the former federal ceiling on the regional profit tax rate of 19 per cent to a fixed rate of the same amount, and also severely limit the rights of regional and local organs to offer exemptions on tax rates for their shares of federal (shared) taxes, including the profit tax.

Table 1: The composition of regional and local budgetary revenue.

In per cent

1997

1998

1999

2000 (Jan-Jun)

Regional

Local

Regional

Local

Regional

Local

Regional

Local

Total revenues

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

of which:

A. Tax collection

69

67

64

64

75

71

76

68

Shared taxes

55

54

50

52

60

56

58

53

Regulated1

31

40

30

38

25

42

23

39

of which: profit tax

--

11

--

10

-

17

-

15

Fixed federal2

3

12

3

12

4

12

4

13

Subject to federal

Ceiling3

21

2

17

2

31

2

31

1

of which: profit tax

19

--

15

--

20

-

25

-

Other taxes4

13

8

14

12

15

15

18

15

B. Non-tax revenue

6

2

6

4

6

4

6

4

C. Transfers from higher-level budgets and extra-budgetary funds

24

31

30

32

19

25

18

28

1. Rates and sharing rules are set annually by the superior level of government.

a) For regional budgets: VAT, personal income tax, excises, and tax for natural resources (except payments for natural deposits and land tax).

b) For local budgets: VAT, personal income tax, profit tax, single imputed income taxes, and taxes for natural resources (except payments for natural deposits and land tax).

2. Rates are set entirely by the superior level of government and sharing rules fixed by federal legislation.

a) For regional budgets - payments for natural deposits.

b) For local budgets - payments for natural deposits, sales tax, and property tax (enterprises).

3. Rates and sharing rules are set primarily by the superior level of government, but allowing some discretion to change tax rates (bases) within fixed federal ceilings (norms) and/or to introduce additional tax exceptions.

a) For regional budgets - profit tax, single imputed income tax (legal entities), and road tax.

b) For local budgets - land tax.

4. Rates, tax bases and exemptions are set decentrally, but within a federal legal framework.

a) For regional budgets - sales tax, property tax (enterprises), licences and registration fees, and single imputed income tax (personal).

b) For local budgets - licenses and registration fees, property tax (persons), advertising tax, social infrastructure and other local taxes (are to be cancelled after the introduction of the sales tax).

Source: OECD calculations based on data and information of the Ministry of Finance.

This places subnational tax autonomy for Russia considerably lower than in most other federations, especially in developed federations such as Canada, Switzerland, and the United States, where subnational governments have almost complete autonomy in choosing tax bases, types, and rates.6 By this measure, the Russian system is also far more centralised than that of China, India, and Brazil.7 Among other federations, only Germany and Mexico have exceedingly low explicit subnational tax autonomy that is comparable to Russia. Not only are Germany and Mexico not as large and diverse as Russia, but a number of specialists have identified over-centralisation as source of inefficiency and poor incentives in subnational state organs in both of these countries.8

The determination of expenditures for subnational administrations resembles somewhat the revenue side of their budgets. Formal responsibilities assigned to regions and localities include (regional) state administration, finance of regional organisations, housing subsidies, transportation, and roads of purely regional significance. In addition, regions share a certain ambiguous “joint responsibility” with the federal government for large expenditure categories such as education, health, social policy, and economic subsidies. Current Russian legislation assigns expenditure responsibilities to lower budgets without any guarantees of autonomy in the determination and execution of these expenditures. In this context, most expenditure categories in subnational budgets are subject to rigid federal regulations relating to the obligatory size and exact breakdown of budgetary outlays. In addition, regional and local budgets have been extraordinarily burdened by the accumulation of numerous unfunded federal expenditure mandates throughout the 1990s. The majority of these mandates dictate subsidies or exemptions in housing, communal services, transportation, etc. for various groups of the population. Although these mandates have a legal status as only “recommended” rather than obligatory since 1993, technical legal ambiguities have made at least a good number of them obligatory for all practical purposes, and recognised as such by the courts.9 Only recently has the Russian government tried to take inventory of the stock of existing mandates and their burden on subnational budgets. A survey of 68 of 89 Subjects of the Federation in 1999 asked for an identification of current outstanding federal mandates. Although regions typically did not identify those mandates that they did not recognise as binding, the combined burden of the 25 most important federal mandates (identified by at least 10 per cent of all regions) was as much as 60 per cent of all consolidated regional expenditure. The combined burden of all mandates that were recognised by at least one region in the survey amounted to 170 per cent of all consolidated regional expenditure10. Thus, fundamental problems in ambiguous and irrational expenditure assignments, stressed by Christine Wallich (Wallich (1994)) in the first comprehensive study of fiscal federalism in Russia, remain unsolved, and may have actually become more serious in the second half of the 1990s.



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