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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Panskov Pans Pension

Segodnya interviews former finance minister Vladimir Panskov, recently appointed to the post of deputy economics minister.

Today, the crisis of the 1996 budget is the main problem for the Russian economy. You stood by the cradle of this year's budget, you directly participated in its development and acceptance. What, in your opinion, is the main reason for such a catastrophic failure to carry out the revenue part of the budget?

The main problem of course, is the non-collection of taxes. There are several reasons for such massive arrears. Firstly, and this is necessary to admit, we have an overstated tax burden. Today, the taxes which we have collected comprise approximately 33 percent of the GDP. At the same time, as expert calculations show, in other countries with a transitional economy, this indicator is equal to approximately 26 to 27 percent of the GDP. If we were to take into account that this 33 percent basically falls on conscientious taxpayers, then pressure on enterprises who punctually pay their taxes turns out to be simply massive. Also, we have very many market subjects who are successfully avoiding taxes in the shadow economy with the help of cash operations and other ways of sheltering funds.

Indisputably, we have to lower the tax burden. But it is practically impossible to do this quickly. Huge social obligations remain in the budget, and we have to fulfill them somehow. Some experts claim that if we lower taxes, we will sharply increase their collection, alas, this is not proven by practice. Such rules act in a normal economy, only not with us. ...

The budget crisis has another side to it. I'm sure that even if we are able to gather all taxes, all the same we won't be able to deal with the expenditures. ... We can't feed so many pensioners today! This may be sickening, unpleasant, and to many even blasphemous -- but the government doesn't have the money to sustain such a quantity of pensioners. There's not a country in the world which possesses a retirement age of 55. ...