Russia to experience ecological disaster because of budget 2005

If the current variant of the budget is approved, such articles as 'environmental protection' and 'agriculture and fishery' will suffer most

Details of the Russian budget for the year 2005 were revealed several days ago. The nation's main financial document seemed to be exasperating for ecologists. Environmental costs have been cut by 15.2 percent. The budget funding was also reduced for the public utilities sector and agriculture.

According to the Noviye Izvestia newspaper, priorities of the new budget embraced the national defense and security and the law-enforcement sphere – 34 percent of all costs. Fifteen percent will be spent on healthcare, education, culture and the replacement of state benefits with cash payments. 

Several economic spheres were left outside the budget 2005. If the current variant of the budget is approved, such articles as 'environmental protection' and 'agriculture and fishery' will suffer most. As a result, the Russian ecological budget will be cut almost 200 times.

“We did not know about such a considerable reduction in the state budget. We were concerned about it, taking into consideration the situation in the country on the whole and the government in particular. However, we did not expect it would be this bad,” a cochairman of the international movement Ecodefense, Vladimir Slivyak, commented in an interview with Noviye Izvestia. “It is reminiscent of a war against the nation. It is not the way to act. About 15 percent of Russia's territory is not good for living from the ecological point of view. The president agreed with such estimation. Putin said one should consult the society, although in the long run, we get what we got. There is money to spend on the military field, but there is no money to spend on people,” Slivyak said.

Russia's major ecological problem, on which it was decided to save funds, is connected with the rehabilitation of radioactively and chemically polluted areas, as well as the zones damaged with man-caused disasters.

Unlike the ecological field, the state funding of which was cut by 15.2 percent, the agricultural field was a little luckier with a ten-percent reduction. Minister of Agriculture, Aleksey Gordeyev, stated that he could not agree with the budget 2005 “either practically or ideologically.” The minister demanded the spending on modernization of agricultural hardware should be increased along with the funding of scientific developments. It is not ruled out the minister will put forward the suggestion at a session of the Duma and the question will be solved positively.

The state, however, has been funding the Russian agriculture only by one-third of the actual need. That is why, experts believe, the situation with the budget will not aggravate the situation in the industry next year. According to experts' estimations, the reduction of the state spending is connected with Russia's forthcoming entry in the WTO. One of the basic requirements of this organization is to reduce the agricultural costs.

Public utilities make another economic field, which may suffer in 2005, experts say. The joint stock company Russian Communal Systems is increasing its investment activity. The budget funding for public utilities will be cut by 28 percent – the fact seems to be frightening even to entrepreneurs of the commercial system of public utilities.

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Author`s name Olga Savka