Budgetary authority checks out recipients of presidental grants
Russia’s budgeting authority checks our recipients of grants from the President’s Office
Moscow 15 January 2015
In the first half of 2015 a number of voluntary sector organisations are awaiting checks due to be carried out by the Russian Federation’s Budgetary Authority.
This was announced by a head of government department in Moscow during a meeting of the All-Russian Forum on “The State and Civil Society: Cooperation
in the Name of Development”.
According to Tatiana Golikova, Head of the Russian Federation’s Budgetary Authority, the checking process will not be large-scale (in other words, a‘light touch’ approach) and it will only affect individual projects. The list of bodies being scrutinised will be posted on the website of the Chamber for Social Affairs of the Russian Federation (OPRF). Furthermore, organisations subject to scrutiny will receive advance notice of the inspectors’ visit. Golikova emphasised that the results of their findings will be submitted to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and also to the Chamber for Social Affairs.
According to data held by the Budgetary Authority, 7.5 billion roubles’ worth of presidential grants were assigned to voluntary sector organisations for socially significant projects, with a further 765 million roubles to be assigned during the year 2015.
Within the framework of the All-Russian Forum on “The State and Civil Society: Cooperation in the Name of Development”, there had already been discussion about, and a formulation of, recommendations for the improvement of state support for institutions of civil society, and best practice for the realisation of socially significant voluntary sector projects had been demonstrated, represented by winners of the competition for presidential grants. The Head of State was due to visit the Forum on 15 January.
As far as the Federal Tax Service is concerned, voluntary sector organisations appear as “rather law-abiding” judicial entities, declared Mikhail Mishustin, who was also one of the speakers at the Forum. He said that as far as the tax service’s supervision of voluntary sector organisations goes, the situation in Russia is “not the worst situation”, adding that there are a number of other countries where such organisations are controlled “rather more severely”. Also, the Head of the Federal Tax Service severely criticised the idea of creating one sole register for voluntary sector organisations. He put the following question to participants: “Why is it needed, if there is one sole register that brings together judicial entities and individual entrepreneurs?” It is the Chamber of Social Affairs of the Russian Federation that has been putting forward the proposal to create a register of voluntary sector organisations.
Quite apart from this, the Head of the Federal Tax Service considers it ineffective to introduce tax concessions for companies which make donations to voluntary sector organisations. According to him, the introduction of such concessions won’t enable any increase in the volume of financial reserves for voluntary sector organisations due to the insignificant amounts of money released by this mechanism. Summing up the matter, Mishustin affirmed the following point: “Taxes are the price we pay for the right to live in a civilised society.”
Aleksandr Konovalov, the Minister of Justice, declared that the Ministry of Justice’s activities last year relating to the voluntary sector had not in any way influenced the number of non-commercial organisations registered in Russia. He said that in 2014 the number of registered organisations had grown by 1 %. The number of non-commercial organisations is rather fluid. Some of them disband voluntarily, others are forced to disband, and then other ones emerge to take their place. In the given situation, the number of organisations which have been obliged to disband in connection with some infringement of the law is, as Konovalov put it, “really insignificant”. In response to the question whether voluntary sector organisations with a social agenda could end up on the register of so-called ‘foreign agents’ which the Ministry of Justice has been compiling, Konovalov affirmed that this could happen, but only in cases where the organisation has gone “beyond the limits of the activities set out in its statute”. He said that the previous evening the Ministry of Justice had introduced for consideration a draft bill which provides voluntary sector organisations with the possibility of being removed from the register of ‘foreign agents’. At the present time there are 30 organisations on that register, and
28 of those were entered on an obligatory basis.
By Georgiy Ivanushkin