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What's Next for Russia - Recipe from WB President
March 4, 2013 08:53

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim has delivered his vision of the strengths and weaknesses of Russia two times over the past month. He first spoke at one of Russia's leading educational institutions and then wrote an article for Kommersant daily.


One of the key symbols for him is Anton Chekhov, a 19th century physician and writer well-known in the West for his accurate depiction of the Russian soul and manners.


In a lecture given to the students of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration on February 14, 2013, he focused on the prospects as well as pitfalls of Russia’s development.


Russia’s growth in the 2000s was impressive – but what happens in 20 to 25 years when the tap on the country’s oil pipeline starts to run dry or if no new fields are discovered?  What is the strategy for replacing oil and gas that currently account for two-thirds of the country’s exports?  What is next?


He talked about the need to improve the investment appeal.


Russia made some gains last year in the rankings of the World Bank Group’s Doing Business report – but more can be done.


He talked about the most burning problems that Russia has been facing.


· Take the issue of Russia’s ageing population.  By 2050, Russia will have almost twice the number of retirees that it has today.  This poses a huge challenge to Russia’s social services and a big burden on the state health system. 

· Another issue is roads, which cost twice as much to build in Russia as they do in countries with similar climates such as Canada or Germany.  What international experience can Russia learn from to cut down on this cost by improving contracting procedures or engineering design?

· Or look at energy efficiency. The World Bank estimates that the energy Russia currently loses each year through old, inefficient buildings, factories, and heating systems equals the amount of energy that a country like France consumes each year. If Russia takes immediate action on the issue of energy efficiency, it would help the world and it would also help Russia. The energy saved can be either sold to enhance revenue or kept in the ground for future generations.


He has worked with Russia on a number of health projects, setting up non-profit charitable organizations fighting TB, so Jim Yong Kim knows what he is talking about. His final message reads as follows:


My hope is that Russia’s answer—your answer—to the question of “What’s next?” will emerge from this country’s capacity to unite—as Chekhov did—reason, the love of beauty, and the courage to act.

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: G20 Anton Chekhov    

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