Novye Izvestia together with the experts studied how the authorities intend to "make a fairy tale come true".
Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
In the presidential decree, national goals were defined quite generally and fit into a short phrase: everything about people and a little about digitalization. For a month the government has been working on the task of the head of state and has made public a set of economic indicators that should lead the country to its intended goals. The Telegram channel "Nezygar" became the platform that posted the country's development plan for the next 10 years. A single plan for achieving goals includes many things: national projects, federal projects, a nationwide action plan for employment.
So far, the government has provided only a project in which the first five years are scheduled by year, then the indicator of 2030 is given. Some cells are empty, some data are missing or being revised. But those responsible have been identified, and the main goals have been set. Therefore, it is already possible to understand what the wonderful Russia of the future will be like in 2030. Novye Izvestia examined this plan for purposes.
Preservation of the population, health and well-being of people
According to our experts, the plan includes "upper values" of demographic data on life expectancy and population growth. This means that the government preferred the optimistic outlook to the pessimistic or even the average one. According to these figures, the total population growth of the country, including fertility and migration, will increase in 2024 to 67,200 people, and in 2030 to 126,600 people. Of course, the state and experts want population growth, says Alexei Raksha, an independent demographer who recently served as an adviser to Rosstat, but this option is far from reality:
- The plan provides for a sharp increase in migration and an increase in the birth rate. If such figures are given, then the birth rate growth is laid down everywhere, especially in those regions where the birth rate is the lowest today.
Such a sharp rise in the birth rate is possible if the state takes extraordinary measures. For example, pay a million or two million for the birth of a third child. In addition, it is necessary for the economy in the country to go sharply uphill, incomes of the population begin to grow, at least as it was in the 2000s, and the exchange rate of the dollar and the euro fell. If geopolitical stability comes and the Russian world flourishes, all these events take place simultaneously, then the values of demographic indicators from such a rosy and already unrealizable high forecast version, indicated in the plans, may become reality.
The birth of second and third children is the basis of population growth, highly dependent on the growth of estimated incomes and on a very competent demographic policy, which, unfortunately, is very lame in our country.
It is obvious that the payment of maternity capital is an effective mechanism. But for this tool to work and stimulate the birth of a second and third child, it should be paid at the birth of the second and third children. In our country, maternity capital is due at the birth of the first child in the family. In fact, this is a distribution of money, and not material stimulation of the birth rate. Instead of increasing maternity capital, poverty benefits were introduced. Such actions are more like keeping the pants down, it has little to do with demographics, experts say.
The plan for achieving the national demographic goal assumes that the total fertility rate even this year will be 1.52 children per woman. Alexei Raksha says that this year the birth rate is expected to be in the range of 1.45 to 1.49 with a decline next year due to the coronavirus crisis.
There are objective reasons for this: the COVID-19 pandemic, falling family incomes, fear of the future. Nevertheless, Rosstat laid down in the plan for the implementation of the goals the increase in the birth rate from 2022 to 2025 in all three options: pessimistic, average, and optimistic. The demographer Raksha suggests that the problem is within the statistics department itself.
- Apparently, internal censorship began in Rosstat. They are not allowed to make predictions below a certain level. Simply, apparently, they prohibit: no, it is impossible, not agreed. The forecast must be coordinated with the ministries. Naturally, the ministries are unhappy with pessimistic assessments. Therefore, the numbers begin to break away from reality. When I was the chief forecaster of Rosstat, I was forbidden to draw the migration decline in the low version of the forecast.
If everything is going well with the economy in the country, then the high option laid down in the plans is possible. But a low option is also needed, which should proceed from the fact that everything will be bad. I assume that Rosstat's low version will be higher than the real one.
Government figures are also full of optimism regarding life expectancy. Despite COVID and the economic decline, according to the forecasts of the compilers of the "plan" this year, life expectancy will remain the same as in the past, and in 2021 it will also grow by six months. By 2030, Russians will live on average 5 years longer than they do now.
Alexey Raksha expects life expectancy in the range from 72.4 to 72.9 years this year.
Doubts among experts are well founded. For the first half of 2020, the population decline was 217 thousand people. The government plan assumes that the population will decline this year by 158 thousand people. If this is the case, then for the remaining six months the population growth should be 62 thousand people.
- In July, the natural population decline amounted to 50 thousand people, in August I expect about 25-30. In total, only for the 2 most prosperous months in the annual cycle, minus 75-80 thousand of the excess of the number of deaths over the number of births. Of course, the increase in migration does not compensate for such a natural decline, and over the remaining 2 months of summer, the total population of the Russian Federation will continue to decline. Accordingly, the likelihood that a powerful migration increase will suddenly occur in the remaining 4 months is close to zero, - says Alexey Raksha.
If the borders are closed again in autumn due to the second wave, and this optimistic figure will be adjusted downward.
Improving the life of the population and increasing real income is the main goal of any modern economy. According to the government plan, the level of poverty in the country in 10 years should be reduced by half. This is possible, experts say, if the GDP growth rate is 3.3% and higher. Such growth will ensure an increase in both wages and incomes of the population. And even if salaries will definitely grow with such an increase, then you will have to work very hard on income.
The second condition for poverty reduction is the creation of a new approach to support and social assistance. The authorities are planning to create a new institution of social treasury. Its meaning is to understand the balance of expenses and incomes of each family. This will allow you to offer customized support measures. Some will receive social assistance, others - social contracts. Social contracts involve additional education, retraining, assistance in organizing your business.
- These programs exist, but we must get a clear understanding of whom we help, how soon we help and how much, in what volumes we help. While all this is in the pen and inkwell. You can talk about the plans as much as you like, but today the premises look rather vague. But here at least it is clear where to move and how to achieve. The first is to ensure economic growth of 3% and more, because such growth creates the material basis for targeted, targeted social assistance. The talks have been going on since the mid-90s, but today we can see the theoretical possibility of solving this problem, - says Nikita Maslennikov, head of the finance and economics department at the Institute of Contemporary Development.
This year the economy is expected to fall by 3% , so we will not get any outstanding success in the fight against poverty. Stabilization of the situation at last year's level will be a success, but according to economists, the situation with poverty will only worsen. If we take the indicators of 2013, then in terms of income of the population it is necessary to win back a 10% fall. This means that the income of the population should grow by 1.5% per year. But next year is also a big question. Experts believe they won't grow at all.
- The structure of real disposable income is now very bad, because the share of wages is relatively stable, the share of social transfers is growing, the share of entrepreneurial income is small and medium-sized businesses, self-employed is falling. Over the year, this share has decreased by half. And other incomes of the population from carts, part-time jobs, renting apartments, selling foreign currency - all of them are also decreasing. Therefore, strictly speaking, when a business is not given the opportunity to earn money, for many there is a serious risk that it is possible to sit down only on the state needle, - says Nikita Maslennikov.
Decent Efficient Work and Successful Entrepreneurship
According to the government's plan, the gross domestic product (GDP) will decline by 4.2% this year and will grow by 3.3% next year. Economists call this effect after the crisis a rebound, or the effect of deferred consumer demand. This effect can last as little as one year. The deeper the fall, the higher the growth rates in the next period, economics teaches. But the main question is what will happen next.
- Official economists believe that they will grow at rates above 3%, 3-4%, and from 2023 the growth rate will be 3%. We, independent economists, believe that we are in the zone of a stable risk of a medium-term slowdown in the rate of gross domestic product with a growth rate of 2-2.5% over a fairly long horizon until 2025-2026 . And this is not enough to fulfill the main condition - poverty reduction. Returning to the growth rates of our economy with its current structure and current structural constraints, depending on the external situation, the growth will be from 1.5 to 2.5% per year. We do not see any serious actions to change the structural characteristics of the current economic model, says Nikita Maslennikov.
Meanwhile, the Russian budget has already contracted, and it will continue to decline next year. All unprotected budget items, except for social services, will decrease by 10%. There is a project under which even the State Armament program will be cut by 5-8%. The space for easing the monetary policy of the Central Bank is also strongly limited by the possible inflation rate and other factors. Below three percent, there are strong risks.
- One thing remains. As grandfather Yasin used to say - when there is nothing to give, give freedom.
But freedom is difficult. Freedom is structural reforms, structural policy, business climate, stimulating business environment - whatever you call it, but this is not very clear, - economist Maslennikov sighs.
"It is necessary to change the sharply continental investment climate"
The three-year national plan for the development of competition ends in December this year. The head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service Igor Artemyev has already admitted that it is only half completed. The laws that President Putin spoke of back in 2017 were never adopted. Natural monopolies remained unreformed, and the draft law on the basis of tariff regulation was not even developed. It is these laws that are directly related to structural change. They can be an incentive for private business investment.
To achieve growth of 3% and more, investment growth is needed at the level of 6-7%. Investments live in a business environment. It also needs to be changed. Nikita Maslennikov says:
- For this, it is necessary to categorically change the environment and change the sharply continental investment climate. There is no other. Because all national projects, major initiatives, what Deputy Prime Minister Belousov introduced to protect capital investments - this will have effects, but these are local points. They do not provide general investment growth, do not provide an innovative economy, do not provide digitalization. Such growth requires a stable tax system. Otherwise, next year it will turn out to be a wonderful thing - along with budgetary consolidation, targeted tax adjustments have been outlined, which together will cost the population and business half a trillion rubles. Here's the motivation.
Small business again
According to the authorities, in 2020 more than 20 million people will work in small and medium-sized businesses, including the self-employed. In ten years their number will increase by another five million. According to trade registers, there are no cuts since the start of the pandemic. Bye is an important word. While tax deferrals and credit holidays are in effect, until these concessions are over, you should not expect the closure of enterprises.
In general, for the development of the labor market and business development, it is not quantitative indicators that are important, but what these enterprises do. Today, 80% of Russian small and medium-sized enterprises are engaged in trade and intermediary activities. Therefore, the government must support those who are engaged in modern production. For example, offshore programming made $ 8-10 billion last year. The state should stimulate exports. There, experts say, there is a lot to do.
Pensions: average temperature in the hospital
Pensioners who believed President Putin, who said that the size of pensions will rise at the same rate as inflation, will be disappointed. Although pensions will grow, but only in this and next years - by 2.4 and 1.2%, respectively. Starting in 2022, the average annual increase in pensions will be around half a percent.
- The figures of this plan are crafty. Well, we indexed, so what? The main thing is the ratio between salary and pension. If we do not engage in funded pension, we will further degrade due to elementary demography. And besides, we need to stop and see what happened after the introduction of the pension point, the pension coefficient. With the introduction of it, we have finally lost the concrete link between the number of years, length of service and the earnings of those retiring. We averaged everything. The erosion of such dependence of people demotivates to work "white", - says Nikita Maslennikov.
The main thing in pensions is not an extra 500 rubles a year, but the ratio of wages and the size of the pension. According to the International Convention on Minimum Social Standards, the replacement rate, that is, the ratio of the average salary to the average pension, is 40%. In Russia this figure is 30-31% . In developed countries - 70% . Half of 70% is the funded part of the pension. In Russia, the funded part of the pension has been frozen since 2016. And even then - it is only 27% of the total pension and only for citizens under 53 years old.
Economy for people or people for economy
In terms of government, much has remained behind the scenes. So far we have seen what the authorities want to achieve. Experts say that, in theory, the implementation of some of these plans is possible. Practically without priority structural changes in the economy, their implementation cannot be achieved. Pumping oil and cutting the number of poor people in half in ten years will not work. This can be done by embracing a new economic model and giving people freedom by removing structural constraints on growth. “And if we don’t do this, we will rewrite national goals in a new way. Then we will set goals for 2035, for example”, - says Nikita Maslennikov.
If the incomes of the population do not grow or grow very slowly, then economic growth acquires an intrinsic value. There will be no social return from it. The return on economic growth is the dynamics of growth in real incomes of the population.
The economist believes: “Effective high-quality economic growth is accompanied by an increase in social returns - actually disposable income and the level of investment in human capital - education, medicine, sports, culture, something that develops new qualities and gives a person the opportunity to earn more. If this is not the case, then the gentlemen in the government must answer why it is not. Then let's sit down and talk".