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Structural Reforms

 

The success of Russias economic reforms depends on Putins ability to dismantle the system of robber capitalism, which incubated in the ashes of the Soviet Union, and create the conditions of competition in the market that are equal for all. Russia, he correctly insists, needs a proper legal framework for undertaking the sort of economic reforms that could eventually bring it justice and equity as well as material prosperity. He has sworn to put social concerns at the center of economic policy to provide more therapy, less shock. He has inducted some genuine reformers into his team. In the first term of his presidency he has made significant moves to reform taxes, to deregulate business, to secure protection for investors rights, and to reform the land-holding system.

"Moscow-City" is the new prestige project of post-communist urban architecture with the Federation Tower (to the right), about to become the highest building of Europe

Following the defeat of the Communists and the election of a more proreform Duma in late 1999, President Putins government utilized well its parliamentary support to embark on a well-thought-out and ambitious program of structural reforms aimed at creating a more conducive investment climate for both domestic and foreign investors. By 2002, the first fruits of this initiative began to appear. Bold tax reforms, involving lowering and unifying tax rates and abolishing exemptions, overhauled the previous arbitrary and irrational tax system, giving Russia a flat 13 percent income tax, a much reduced profit tax rate, and a greatly simplified system.

Legal reforms were launched, aimed at fundamentally transforming the judicial system, with the changes in the economic sphere involving a separation of criminal and commercial processes and much improved arbitration procedures. The Soviet-era labor and land codes were replaced, putting on a sound legal basis private employment and the sale and ownership of land. Deregulation reduced the number of licensed activities, sought to limit intrusive inspections by corrupt officials, and made registration of new businesses a one-step process.

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