Indequate funds for social welfare

shortage of budget funds for the fulfilment of social welfare obligations could
stimulate their transfer to NGOs

Experts have criticised the draft budget for
2014-2016, prepared by the Ministry of Finance. 
In it, they see a threat to the financing of a range of key social
programmes: the revenue side does not correspond with the existing needs of
social services.

In a discussion of the budget on 4 July, Vladislav
Onishchenko, first deputy director of the Russian government’s Analytical
Centre, remarked that, in these conditions, it is necessary to focus on the
priorities set out in the President’s May decrees.  Apart from this, it is necessary, in his
opinion, to think about improving the effectiveness of social services to
citizens.  Onishchenko believes that
“Sooner or later, the state should find a more effective means of providing
social services.  For example, by partly
transferring them to private companies or NGOs”.

Tatyana Tishchenko, senior researcher at the budget
policy laboratory of the Yegor Gaidar Institute of Economic Policy, considers the
shortage of finances for social programmes to be an opportunity to rethink how
to apportion funds.  In her opinion, it
is necessary to limit the uptake of social benefits.  There should be clearly prescribed periods of
validity for all benefits and conditions under which they are provided.  For example, the lump payment of 100,000
rubles for a foster child would not be paid immediately, but only after the
child had lived with the family for a defined period.  Tishchenko is convinced that several payments
need to be postponed.  This concerns, in
particular, maternity benefits.  The
expert says, “If there is now a shortage of funds for maternity benefits, why
should these payments not be deferred. 
To cut back on education, healthcare, law and order, and the costs of
the Olympics in favour of maternity benefits is impossible.  Perhaps it would be worthwhile putting off
these payments, with interest, until a later stage”.

Earlier, vice-premier Olga Golodets spoke critically
on the budget.  According to her, the
document does not take into account the financing of a package of measures for
orphans, the programme of maternity benefits, and the provision of technical
means of rehabilitation for disabled people.

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