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Bureaucracy in Russia. Myth or Reality?
May 31, 2007 17:33

Not a secret that Russia is a country of bureaucracy, in which there are a lot of government officials and their number permanently increases. In this situation the bureaucracy hampers the development of economy and private business, and it is one of the negative factors for foreign investors in Russia. Besides, a huge system of bureaucracy causes the corruption.

In 2005 the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Science Academy together with representatives of German sociological fund Friedrich Ebert Stiftung presented a report “Bureaucracy and Authority in new Russia: Population Opinion and Experts Appraisal”. The main conclusion of the report, which was the first significant analysis of relations between population and functionaries, consists in the following: people have negative attitude to the officials, who pretend to be special estate in the society and influence the political and economical processes in Russia.

At the same time, according to the “Kommersant” newspaper, the problem doesn’t lie exactly in bureaucracy, but in the quality of its managing. As proofs the newspaper shows the statistics: in 2004 the number of government officials increased by 10,9% and ran up to 1,462 million people. In 1994 there were about 1 million government officials. But the population of the country for that period reduced from 148 million to 143 million people. As a result the number of government officials in the country increased from 0,7% to 1%. However in comparison with developed countries it’s not so much. Such a low number of bureaucrats is characteristic for developing countries. According to the data of the World Bank, the number of government officials in population of Brazil makes 1,5%, Chile – 1%, China – 1,6%. In state apparatus 6,1% of German population work, in the USA – 6,8%, in Sweden – 11,7%.

At the same time Russia outstripped many developing countries in number of civil state employees, this category includes the employees in authority bodies of all levels, employees of health and education authorities (without army and police). Thus, the number of state employees makes 3, 53%, what is less than the data in the developed countries (for instance in the USA 10,5%), but more than in developing countries (2 – 3,2%).

But there is one disproportion in the Russian system of bureaucracy: federal officials make about half of the whole number of officials. In other countries the federal officials are two-six times less than regional and municipal.

Thus, in spite of the myth there are not many officials in Russia, and everybody may experience this during the long and tiring process of getting a new passport for traveling abroad, registration of a new company and so on. But the main problem is that the Russian state officials’ work is not effective and qualitative because of poor technical equipment (computers, phones) and low salaries. As for government officials in the state apparatus their income is 25% higher than the average salaries and greatly exceeds the salary of doctors and teachers, but the quality of their work is not satisfactory. That’s why in spite of negative attitude to the government officials a lot of young people would like to work in the state machinery.

In that way the number of officials in Russia is not big, but the quality of their work is rather low. Another problem is a concentration of the functionaries in the central government system. So bureaucracy in Russia is both the reality and myth, because the problem is not in bureaucracy, but in the management of this system.


Elena Rozhkova

Tags: Bureaucracy     

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