Duma gets proposal to reduce aid to SONGOs
The Ministry of Finance submitted draft to reduce funding for socially oriented NGOs to the State Duma
Moscow 17 March 2015
Draft amendments to the federal budget drawn up by the Ministry of Finance have been submitted to the State Duma. The ministry’s draft proposes a reduction in financial aid from the state programme to support socially oriented NGOs. The Ministry of Economic Development and both chambers of parliament came out against the Ministry of Finance’s proposals. A campaign continues to collect signatures for a petition on behalf of the socially oriented NGOs.
The draft amendments to the federal budget were published on the State Duma’s website. The draft was introduced in the lower house of the parliament by the Government, the corresponding decree was then published on the cabinet of ministers’ website. In total, according to the document, the programme of financial support for socially oriented NGOs will be cut by more than 960 million roubles.
The Vice Speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Zheleznyak, spoke out against the financial cut, according to the Russian news agency “TASS”. Zheleznyak highlighted that the third sector is important for the harmonious development of the country and an effective dialogue between the society and the government and the proposal from the Ministry of Finance “invalidates” the support of non-commercial organisations.
The Vice Speaker of the State Duma was quoted as having said, “I am convinced that it is categorically wrong to try to address the optimisation of the budget at the expense of reduced funding for NGOs, a significant portion of which are socially oriented and help to solve our citizens’ problems.” Zheleznyak mentioned that the state’s fulfillment of social obligations is one of the foundations of stability in society.
The Ministry of Finance’s initiative also aroused criticism in the Federal Council. First Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the Federal Council on Federal Structure, Regional Policies, Local Self-Governance and Affairs of the North, Stefan Kirichuk stated that he did not agree with the ministry’s proposal to reduce funding for the programme, stressing that socially oriented NGOs are a crucial element in attracting people to the government. Kirichuk highlighted that the Ministry of Finance’s proposal will be listened to closely but that the final decision will be made by the parliament.
The draft amendments to the federal budget also received criticism in the Ministry of Economic Development, according to RIA Novosti. The Ministry came out against the reduction in finance for the programme ‘Improving the efficiency of the state support of socially oriented organisations’ and has written to the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev referring to the need to the restore funding.
The public campaign for the preservation of the public financing programme for socially oriented NGOs, launched a week ago after the Ministry of Finance’s draft amendments became well known, continues. The president was handed a petition for the preservation of state subsidies for socially oriented NGOs and the collection of signatures continues. The appeal has been signed by both individuals and by organisations. NGOs can sign the petition on the Change.org portal or send their vote by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, specifying in the email the full name of the organisation and the city. Up until today, over 3,500 people and 159 non-commercial organisations have signed the petition.
Author: Grigory Ivanushkin