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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ROUND TABLE: Good and Evil Found In Help From the West




How can foreign consultants help the economy?


To make a diagnosis and prescribe remedies just one week after a hasty "on-the-spot introduction" is degrading, and appears totally lacking in seriousness. I am very concerned that a short personal meeting with a group of foreign professors could convince the leadership of an enormous country to fundamentally alter its entire economic policy.


However, employing famous Western experts could be justified from a tactical perspective.


Unfortunately, the reality is that the international financial community has no faith in the ability of a developing country to independently generate clear ideas and policies - and instead prefers to rely on the opinions of what it considers to be knowledgeable authorities, whether it's the International Monetary Fund, or some famous professor well-acquainted with the U.S. administration's economic policies.


Poland provided an example of successfully employing such tactics at the beginning of the 1990s, and the entire world is still convinced that the Polish government followed to the letter the recipe prescribed by a well-known Harvard professor. There is a similar myth regarding the role of several foreign specialists in Yegor Gaidar's government in 1992.


If our Western partners find this more comfortable and reassuring, then so be it.


It would be good, though, if during this visit (which I fear is far from their last) the group of experts could hold to a more or less consistent set of views on the economy, because up to now, instead of consensus, there have been attempts to formulate another chimera using a hodgepodge of economic theories - often even opposing economic theories.


Andrei Vernikov


chief accountant, ABN Amro Bank


Recommendations from Western economic luminaries aren't going to help much in Russia. Their models are built on an assumption that everything will be implemented on time, and they often overlook the human factor, which nearly always plays a decisive role in Russia. The human factor accounts for 3 percent to 4 percent of Western models, while that figure can be as high or higher than 40 percent for us. ... Russia's size is one of the main things that makes Western models so inappropriate. The things that work in the Czech Republic or Chile will be ineffective here.


Igor Zakharov


chairman, Sodbiznesbank


There is no doubt that they could help in some way. But it's clear that this particular round of consultations will have little decisive meaning.


From my perspective, the administration needs them in order to appraise the current economic situation from every viewpoint and to develop a strategy.


Moreover, the foreign economists' proposals could turn out to be completely objective and possibly even original. The presidential team deserves credit for its sincere desire to avoid haste in developing the most realistic and dynamic economic strategy possible. And for that, the government needs help not only from our own consultants, but from foreign ones as well.


Alexei Mamontov


vice president, Moscow Stock Exchange


Each of these consultants has made a very substantial contribution to his own country's economy. Their activities have been focused on resolving various economic problems, and they have been united by the single goal of economic growth for their country. Today, Russia is faced with that same task of quickly and painlessly developing the economy and setting it on the course of global reform. The new government's economic policies are still in the development stage. And the meeting with foreign consultants couldn't come at a better time. ... In developing the economy, we must pay heed to foreign as well as to our own experience.


Oleg Ychnik


president, Olma Group