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    MOSCOW, APRIL 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti). - A sweeping administrative reform has made Russian ministers, their deputies and ministerial department heads something like the country's top managers. They will determine government policies and legislative activities, said Alexei Kudrin, Finance Minister. He addressed the media immediately after the federal Cabinet finished a session to analyse current reform progress.

    A dramatic numerical reduction met departments of all ministries except the Foreign, Defence and law-enforcement. Their total number has shrunken to a mere hundred. Department directors will now make a cohort of top federal managers, who will determine national policies and draw legal acts.

    Each minister's two deputies will coordinate department heads' policy-making and legislative efforts.

    The hundred directors will also have two deputies each. The number of top national managers will thus make three hundred.

    The administrative reform envisages 46 federal service and agency heads, with 123 deputies-169 high-level executives, in total.

    Russia is receiving a simple vertical top-to-bottom administrative pattern, which will not hamper dynamic and efficient work, commented Mr. Kudrin.

    Ministers will now interfere in the routine of subordinate agencies and services only when disputes arise-for instance, with an invalidated license, and suchlike, he added.

    Ministers will no longer regard particular transactions to intervene only in disputes at the level of ministries and other federal offices. They will directly involve in such instances, up to abolishing decisions.

    The new Cabinet has roughly determined the salaries of ministers, their deputies and department heads. Their remuneration will now depend on the overall amount of a ministry's work-in particular, bylaw making. Wage rises in government-financed fields-e.g., doctors' and teachers'-will be among principal yardsticks for ministries' practical success.

    The salaries of ministers, their deputies and department heads are to rise to minimum sums sufficient to attract top-notch experts to ministries and other federal offices.

    The Finance Ministry will be ready, within five days, with all initiatives necessary to raise ministerial personnel salaries, promised Alexei Kudrin.

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