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L.F. Bauer, head of the scientific and technical library
Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant,
Chelyabinsk

Subscription subsidies turned into a gross leak of the state budget

05.03.2013
The draft law On Postal Service that is still going through the working stage stirred heated discussion of subscription in Russia; however, nothing sensible has been said so far.
For example, the experts of the Association of Distributors of Printed Products (ARPP) in their press release* refer to the statistics illustrating changes in the amount of subsidies allocated to Russian Post FSUE by the government to compensate losses associated with the provision of the subscription service: In 2008, the government allocated 1.6 bn rubles from the budget sources for this purpose; in 2009 2.988 bn rubles; in 2010 3.0 bn rubles; in 2011 - 3,044 bn rubles and, finally, in 2012 3. Bn rubles.
Though Dmitry Martynov, the ARPP president, and Alexander Oskin, the chairman of the ARPP Board, for some unknown reason, draw the conclusion that over the time the amount of the subsidy had hardly been increased, you do not have to plunge into difficult calculations to get a clear picture: From 2008 to 2012, the amount of the subsidy doubled. We are not talking about indexation and adjustment for inflation; the increase is substantial. Did the quality of subscription periodical delivery improve? The expert community did not notice any positive changes. Then, the reasonable question comes up: What was the taxpayers money allocated from the budget funds spent on?
We can make a conclusion that the subsidies go to nowhere, to some black hole, not only missing the target, but also reducing the budget possibilities in other sectors.
One curious detail: If in 2008 the amount of 1.6 bn rubles allocated from the public purse, with reference to Russian Post, compensated 100 % of the losses associated with the subscription service provided by the above entity, the amount of 3.2 bn rubles allocated in 2012 was sufficient only to compensate half of the losses. The puzzle is why over the four years the losses increased four times, while the subscription sales steadily go down every year.
In the same press release, the ARPP experts hold up the practices of European countries as an example, pinpointing the fact that the state compensates losses of national postal operators. It is also mentioned that, taking into account subsidies, the delivery cost of one weekly periodical is 5.76 euro (230 rubles) for half of a year in Germany. However, the experts forgot to say that Russian Post delivers periodicals for 20 rubles on average (0.5 euro) the amount that is 10 times as low as the amount in Germany.
When the allocation of funds for compensation of subscription-associated losses lacks transparency, the only sensible decision is to subsidize delivery expenses of the individuals and relating to the subscription of the limited selection of periodicals that are recognized as socially significant by the public.
If the situation with subsidizing remains unchanged and the government keeps on allocating funds for subscription in general, including orders of legal entities, which can hardly be deemed as socially significant, taxpayers money will continue disappearing in the black hole.

* By the moment, the above press release has been removed from the ARPP website, but it is available at the website of the Parlamentskaya Gazeta: http://www.pnp.ru/newspaper/detail/11961

 

 
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