THE RAILWAYS HAVE BEEN LEFT WITHOUT LAND
Izvestia, January 24, 2003, p. 2 EV
This year, the government intends to complete the first phase of rail transport reforms, which will be marked by the creation of the Russian Railroads company. This was announced by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov in his opening speech at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. The government has entrusted the Railroads Ministry with creating a favorable environment for the development of competition in rail transport. Some progress has been made in this area. Kasianov noted that Russia now has 74 private operators in this field, who are running effective businesses and now account for around 10% of rail transport. These companies will provide competition for Russian Railroads, the national rail transport provider which will inherit almost all the sector’s infrastructure – but not land. The government has decided that the land on which the Railroads Ministry’s facilities are located will remain state-owned.
Toward the end of the Cabinet meeting, Railroads Minister Gennady Fadeev stated that all land beneath the ministry’s assets and facilities will remain state property. Fadeev specified that this also applies to land beneath the railway lines and train stations which will become part of Russian Railroads.
Fadeev said that during discussions of progress on rail transport reforms, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov and Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko had expressed overall approval for the Railroads Ministry’s approach to property issues. The Railroads Ministry has proposed that Russian Railroads should receive all the assets of 17 railway lines, as well as several dozen catering and retail outlets, research and development institutes, health facilities, and sporting facilities. These assets will be transferred to Russian Railroads between 2003 and 2005.
Fadeev says the final questions about railway assets will be decided by May 18, “when two laws on rail transport reforms come into effect”.
According to Fadeev, almost all the necessary legislation for rail transport reforms is now ready. Only one law is lacking: a bill on management and distribution of railway assets was rejected by the Federation Council late last year. Fadeev says this law will be passed by February 13, or February 15 at the latest. Fadeev is satisfied with the amendments made to this law by a Federation Council conciliation commission on Wednesday. The final list of amendments was halved. Some points which are incompatible with other laws or which violate the principle of separation of powers have been eliminated from the bill: Russian Railroads will not be reporting to the Duma, and will not have to coordinate the appointment of its chief executive with the president.
TAX MINISTRY WARNS US AGAINST "DANGEROUS LIAISONS"
Izvestia, January 24, 2003, p. 2 EV
The Taxes and Duties Ministry has released the first figures on the number of companies which are operating lawfully in Russia. These are the companies which submitted their details by January 1 and have been registered in the ministry’s database. There are 1.6 million of them – exactly half of Russia’s 3.2 million officially registered enterprises. The law says the others may continue to operate, but the Taxes and Duties Ministery is certain that they will be eliminated in the near future.
In the middle of last year, the Taxes and Duties Ministry began work on a single state register of companies. All registered companies were asked to submit their basic details by January 1, 2003: internal passport data of their general directors and accounting managers, their licenses, their bank account numbers, their address, and company names.
It was assumed that the Taxes and Duties Ministry would simplify procedures for registration and submission of details.
According to Deputy Taxes and Duties Minister Mikhail Mishustin, around 1.6 million companies complied, and are now recorded in the state register of companies. In theory, the others are liable to be shut down; but current legislation makes this a complicated procedure. However, there is a bill which would simplify procedures for shutting down companies; it has already gone through the first reading in the Duma, and should be passed this spring.