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    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MINISTER: ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM IS A KEY ONE IN RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, February 4, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- The administrative reform is a key one in Russia, Economic Development Minister German Gref said Wednesday, addressing the 5th annual conference of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

    "During the reform it is necessary to chart "an economic course of the state and determine the extent of its interference in the economy," he said. In his view, "very many good intentions are blocked by interdepartmental red tape."

    According to the minister, officials are not personally responsible for the decisions they make, but there is so-called "personal incentive," which breeds corruption. "This year most important decisions will be taken in the administrative reform," Gref said, noting that "the most difficult thing for officials is to reform themselves." Experts believe amendments are to be made in 800 normative acts to lower administrative barriers.

    Today over 30 power bodies have a right to suspend the work of industrial facilities without a court decision, he said, and many of the power bodies "use these powers in bad faith."

    The minister stressed the priority of conducting the administrative reform. "Business in Russia today," he said, "is far more competitive than the officialdom is." "Therefore the conflict between the institutional conditions and business, which has gone far ahead, must be settled. It is one of the decisive conditions for Russia's further development," he said in conclusion.

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