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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

PM Signs E-Russia Into Action

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on Tuesday gave final approval to Electronic Russia, a much-hyped, 76 billion ruble ($2.5 billion) program to boost the country's use of information technology.

E-Russia includes projects such as putting tax forms online, installing computers in schools and developing better legislation for the IT sector.

"The project aims to create a more effective government through the introduction of information technology," said Tseren Tserenov, head of the project, adding that 600 million rubles already have been contributed for projects planned for this year.

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry began drawing up the eight-year program last February, and it was approved by the Cabinet in July.

Some 39 billion rubles for the program are to come from the federal budget, while regional and city budgets are to contribute 22.5 billion rubles and "nonbudgetary sources" are to pitch in 14.7 billion rubles.

Some e-Russia programs are already under way -- including projects to clarify IT sector legislation and better monitor the government's financial activities.

Technology companies welcomed the project.

"The adoption of the program is very important for the IT sector," said Olga Uskova, president of the Cognitive Technologies holding. "Government orders for IT projects will be better organized -- which means big money ... higher standards for companies working on the orders."

Uskova said the program's content should be spelled out more clearly, and IT companies should be allowed to take part in the process.

"The program is a good declaration that the IT sector is the sector that Russia needs to endorse," said Max Gutbrod, managing partner at the Baker & McKenzie law firm, adding that there are parts of the program that need to be improved.

"It's vital to get the legal infrastructure, specifically, implementation of the legislation right," he said. "You also need to pay close attention to educational institutions and the conditions for small IT companies to do business."