Moscow's budget in the era of coronavirus: where will trillions be spent and where from money will be borrowed
Analytics

Moscow's budget in the era of coronavirus: where will trillions be spent and where from money will be borrowed

26 November 2020, 16:02
The Moscow City Duma adopted the new city budget in the first reading. For the first time since 2009, Moscow will live with a deficit. But this does not bother the city authorities, and they plan to spend even more money on road construction, housing and communal services and landscaping.

Novye Izvestia assessed the feasibility of these multi-billion dollar spendings.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

While the federal budget is cutting spending, the Moscow authorities, on the contrary, are increasing their budget and are confidently looking into the future. Next year, in 2021, the capital is going to spend more than 3 trillion rubles. The figure itself is a record, no city in the country had such a budget. There is only one snag - for the first time in the last 11 years, Moscow plans to go into the red - by as much as 510 billion rubles. In other words, one-sixth of the money needed will be borrowed. The head of the municipal district "Krasnoselsky" Ilya Yashin describes a bleak picture:

- The budget deficit is 510 billion rubles. The city will spend less on health care and education. The main reason for this situation is a pandemic. Many entrepreneurs have gone broke. In the economy, the gross regional product fell by 2.4%. Unemployment has grown 8 times - up to 222 thousand people. Instead of cuts, Sobyanin decided to spend even more money than the previous budget.

So why don't the Moscow authorities want to live within their means and follow the path of their senior comrades - the federal government? There are two explanations for this.

An innovative romantic explanation

A year ago, the city's budget for expenditures was planned for 2021 by 300 billion rubles more modestly. It can be assumed that this money should be spent on fighting covid, but health care costs will be reduced by 100 billion rubles in 2021 and 50 billion over the next two years. Costs for hospitals will fall significantly - from 127 "covid" billion to 84 billion as early as next year, and ambulance costs - one and a half times. How the Moscow government has assessed the development of the pandemic, when the numbers of infected are growing, and mass vaccination before summer is simply impossible, no one knows. But it is clear from the budget that beds in hospitals will be reduced, otherwise how can one explain the cut in this budget item by a third.

The official unemployment rate has grown by 222 thousand. This should lead to an increase in social benefits. But only 12 billion more will be spent on supporting the population than this year.

There is a version that the Moscow authorities decided to go against the situation, not to cut costs and continue to build a bright future in a single city. It is logical to assume that the Moscow authorities will invest in the city and start financing economic development and innovative attractiveness. But here the attentive reader, studying the Moscow budget, will be disappointed: in the item of expenditure "Economic development and investment attractiveness of the city of Moscow" the figures are falling, and in 2023 the city will spend for these purposes half of what it is spending now. If you look at the "Development of the digital environment and innovation", the picture is approximately the same - each subsequent year the city will spend less for these purposes than it spent in the 2020 "pandemic" year.

If neither sports, nor culture, nor healthcare or the digital economy aroused the interest of the mayor's office, what will the Moscow taxes go to?

Everything as usual

The Moscow mayor's office is distinguished by an enviable constancy in its preferences. If someone could think that the anecdote about winter and summer tiles for Moscow sidewalks is folklore that has gone down in history, this person is deeply mistaken. Winter and summer tiles are not the past of the capital, but also its future.

The budget for the next three years finally reveals the secret of what the Moscow trillions will be spent on. These are landscaping (tiles, curbs and other festive lighting), housing construction, road construction and transport. Moscow City Duma deputy Yelena Shuvalova knows exactly who will get rich again in Moscow:

- Trillions of Moscow taxes, mainly taxes of individuals, because taxes of individuals are growing, they are spent on the pockets of construction and transport oligarchs, as well as housing and communal services. They are not only going to improve, they are going to build, build and build.

The deputy is not exaggerating at all. If you look at the Housing program, in 2021 Moscow will spend 2 times more money on it than in 2020 - over 236 billion rubles. We can say that 2020 cannot be compared to the future, because the economy stopped in the second quarter. But if you compare the cloudless 2019 with the city hall's plans for 2021, the difference is impressive. In 2019, 147 billion was spent on housing construction, and 90 billion more are planned for next year. In 2022-2023, the mayor's office will finance housing construction for another half a trillion rubles.

Deputy Prime Minister of the Moscow Government Pyotr Biryukov became the winner in the competition for the assimilation of budget funds. Expenditures on housing and communal services will increase only next year by 115 billion rubles and will amount to a fabulous 542 billion.

If someone thought that this was a one-time action, having looked at the corresponding section of the budget, he will understand that he was very mistaken: after 2021, Mr. Biryukov will not know anything about the refusal and will receive a fabulous 1 trillion 100 billion for gold sewer and water pipes tax rubles. Ilya Yashin says:

- Every year, the city authorities literally bury tens of billions of rubles in the ground. There is no end or end to it. In the next three years, the mayor's office is going to spend 926 billion rubles on landscaping. There is a crisis in the country, lower costs, rising prices, debts - and nothing. Sobyanin seems to be conducting an experiment on his deputy for housing and communal services, Petr Biryukov. He shoves more and more money into his mouth and watches how much it can fit in - but there is a bottomless hole.

Unlike United Russia and the two deputies from A Just Russia who joined them, other deputies not only tried to ask questions of the Moscow authorities, but also have a complete understanding of where the money is going. Yevgeny Stupin, a Communist Party deputy who voted against the budget, says:

- The improvement budget is an obvious theft. The exact distribution of articles was not discussed, the budget is extremely opaque. We understand that these are tiles, curbs again, they have already been purchased. This is what stands out. This is against the interests of Muscovites.

Yelena Shuvalova received a complaint from voters about the bad attitude to the lawn on Losiny Island, where plants from the Red Book grow. Shuvalova received an amazing answer to the deputy's request:

- I have an appeal on mistreatment of the Red Book lawn in Losiny Ostrov so that you understand the mechanisms that operate in everything - in construction, with tiles - in everything. They answer me - that you, that you, do not worry, we will cover everything with a roll lawn. Guys, why don't you sow the seeds of those plants, which have become less? Because you can't wash anything on seeds. And I wrote out a kilometer for a roll lawn, and laid much less. And who will check? And he put the money in his pocket. And so in everything.

A year ago, Deputy Stupin sent a request to the Control and Accounts Chamber of Moscow with a request to check the spending of funds for the purchase of anti-icing reagents. In the 2019 budget, 8.4 billion rubles were allocated for them, and purchased for 15 billion. The ward checked for six months. In July, a cryptic message appeared on her website:

“Based on the results of the control measure, certain violations and shortcomings in the process of purchasing, storing and using reagents were identified, and facts were revealed that indicate the need to improve regulatory legal regulation”.

The new budget now has a completely different amount - 4.4 billion rubles. As they say, you need to watch your hands all the time.

Ilya Yashin sums up:

- Even more money will go to feed Peter Biryukov: spending will increase both for "improvement" and for the maintenance of the State Budgetary Institution "Zhilischnik". A fat piece of the pie will go to Maxim Liksutov: the cost of the transport system has exceeded half a trillion. Federal oligarchs will also receive their share: for example, Rotenberg's companies, which are building roads in the capital at $ 50 million per kilometer.

Deputy Sergey Mitrokhin at the hearings said that the capital's budget was inflated. In a pandemic, money needs to be spent on more necessary things:

- People in orange overalls on the streets annoy Muscovites. I believe that many investment projects should be abandoned, such as, for example, the construction of a backup for Kutuzovsky Prospect or the highway passing through Losiny Ostrov. These projects will not only be of no benefit, but they will do great harm.

Politician Ilya Yashin turned to the leader of United Russia in the Moscow City Duma Stepan Orlov, who ensured the adoption of the budget in the first reading, with a proposal to hold a debate on the city's budget. As Yashin told Novye Izvestia, Orlov “hid and sits in the house” and not only Yashin, but also the journalists does not answer.

Servants of the people

The costs of maintaining the executive branch are also growing. Compared to 2019, the expenditure item "Functioning of legislative (representative) government bodies and representative bodies of municipalities" increased by 500 million rubles per year.

According to Yashin, 90 billion rubles will be spent on officials, their salaries, bonuses and bonuses in three years.

The average salary of an official in Moscow is 120 thousand rubles a month. Members of the Moscow government receive 630 thousand rubles. In the City Duma, only 16 deputies who support Sobyanin receive a salary of 700 thousand rubles. The salary of the mayor himself is not known, this is a closed expense item, but it is known that "The functioning of the highest official of the subject of the Russian Federation and the municipality" costs 204 million a year.

Debts and facade

The Moscow budget deficit is a new phenomenon since the 2008 crisis. The deputies complain that the budget is not transparent, so it is difficult not only for us to delve into the details. On the other hand, Yelena Shuvalova has been sitting in the Moscow City Duma for a long time, she has seen everything and does not believe in the reality of duty:

- The budget deficit will be financed in the same way as every year - at the beginning of the year they declare a deficit, and at the end of the year they extinguish it. They came up with some kind of mechanism that is beneficial to them. Perhaps from the point of view of federal relations, perhaps for some other purpose. But this deficit is not real, but artificial. It is pledged at the beginning of the year, and at the end of the year, savings are suddenly taken.

However, the 2021 budget added a line that had been missing in previous years - "Debt Service". An amount appeared, and a rather big one - 14 billion rubles.

You have to pay for the beautiful life of the Moscow authorities - you, dear Muscovites.

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