As Mr. Dvorkovich was addressing a conference in his ministry today, he said it was unwise to drastically cut the number of deputy ministers, as the current reform envisages. The cut will not make the government any more efficient, as he sees it.
"There is an idea to reduce the number of deputy ministers to two [for each ministry]. There are other ideas, too, to shrink the ruling personnel. I don't think we'll hit our targets with all that," snapped Arkadi Dvorkovich, thus coming up as a first-ever high Russian official to criticise the government reform. He makes it a point to speak up the day before a Cabinet session finally confirms the new structure of federal ministries, he emphasised.
Mr. Gref, currently in Germany for contacts with Western business tycoons, has not yet announced his future deputies.
As Mr. Dvorkovich sees the matter, downgrading deputy ministers and their immediate subordinates means to crash the most efficient lot-present-day ministerial department heads and their deputies. He does not think anyone on the federal staff can rival them for proficiency.
Dvorkovich apprehensively thinks the proposed arrangement will make ministers hard put coping with matters they are personally responsible for.
"A minister ought to see for himself what he needs to cope with a task-but what do we now have? It all started with upgrading the ministerial role. Later on, every minister had all support removed from under him on the quiet so that he would not be able to cope with his tasks.
"I shall be glad if I see I am wrong here, but the situation badly alarms me," the deputy minister emphatically remarked.
Every Russian minister will have two deputies. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Defence Minister and those who keep law-enforcement portfolios will be the only exceptions. Government staff members see the arrangement as sealed and not to get under more debates.
As Mr. Dvorkovich announced to the media, the key economic ministries-of Finance, and of Economic Development and Trade-are in for drastic department cuts, too. The Finance Ministry will have a mere eight or nine, and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade fifteen or sixteen against a present-day 55. The ministry may have its personnel reduced by 15-20 per cent, he warned.
The deputy minister is very sceptical of another recent idea-to pinpoint fields which promise the quickest economic progress. He says he is opposed to it as a matter of principle. What Russia needs is an unbroken total of prerequisites for economic upgrading. All attempts to "invent or find" from the top the most lucrative economic fields will be futile, he deems.
The concept will bring deplorable fruit in budget policies, and will not help to hit Russia's central economic objectives-combat poverty and double the gross domestic product, Arkadi Dvorkovich sombrely forecasts.