State Publishes New 4-Year Plan

The government on Tuesday published the strategic plan for the country's development until 2012, which sets out detailed goals for Russia's ministries in the economic and social spheres.

The document, which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed last week, will serve as the cornerstone of the long-term development plan through 2020, although some said the goals appeared unrealistic given the current financial crisis.

"The 2009-2012 period will determine the success of Russia in achieving its long-term objectives, and its social and economic development should match the status of Russia as the leading world power of the 21st century," read the document, which was published on the government's web site.

The document highlights five factors that will define the country's direction over the period: volatility on global financial markets and the need for a stable budget system; the higher role of human capital in economic development and society; faster technological change; competition in attracting strategic foreign investment with a focus on development of small and medium enterprises; and investment in education and infrastructure.

"This is a very important document that forms the basis of long-term planning and could change the way ministries and government agencies work in a big way," said Sergei Sidorenko, deputy head of the Institute of Economy and Social Policy, a nongovernmental agency that counts the Economic Development Ministry and Health and Social Development Ministry as its clients.

"It puts human capital and the Russian citizen at the forefront, acknowledging that this is what ultimately determines a country's successful development," he said.

Similar documents have been used for planning in developed countries for a long time, Sidorenko said, but Russia hasn't had long-term planning since the Soviet State Planning Committee.

The document also envisions the transformation of Russia from an export-based, commodities economy to one focused on social development, including higher business competitiveness, innovation and science, the use of information technology, increased productivity and efficiency, and modernization of manufacturing and agriculture, as well as developing high-quality transportation and energy infrastructure.

But not everyone was convinced that the plan — as well-meaning as it may be — is particularly realistic.

"The 2020 document has all the right words, and it's a great document, but it has no bearing on our current reality — we are in the middle of a financial crisis and have to solve immediate economic problems," said Mikhail Delyagin, an independent economist who heads the Institute of Globalization Problems.

"This is a document not for our country and not for our time," Delyagin said. "Maybe this would work for Denmark."