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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kozak Cutting Regional Red Tape

Less than a month after being appointed minister for regional development, Dmitry Kozak has drafted a plan to reduce the number of regional departments of federal government agencies and "adjust" the powers of the presidential envoys in the seven federal districts.

The plan calls for all regional representative offices of federal agencies -- excluding those with "law enforcement and oversight" functions -- to be closed down. Most federal ministries, agencies and services currently have representative offices in each or most of the country's 88 regions.

Kozak, who moved to his current job from that of presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, did not specify which agencies he believed should close down their regional offices because of inefficiency.

Kozak on Thursday told a Federation Council hearing on regional policy that he was "proposing the transfer of as many powers to the regions as possible, leaving at the discretion of the federal government only those [functions] that require centralized oversight at the federal level," according to a transcript posted on the Federation Council web site.

Kozak said he believed regional administrations should have a greater say in the allocation of funds, including the right "to select facilities and projects for investment."

He also criticized the disparity in socio-economic levels among regions, noting that the country's richest region has a gross regional product 35 times that of the poorest.

The proposals would alter the status of the presidential envoys to the seven federal districts, which Kozak said would "better integrate them into the system for governing the country," RIA-Novosti reported Thursday.

He did not, however, elaborate on his proposals regarding the roles of the envoys. Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov early this month called publicly for the presidential envoy system to be scrapped.

Sources in the Kremlin and White House told Vedomosti earlier this month that the it was looking to reform the system, which it feels is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

The system was introduced by President Vladimir Putin in 2000 to help impose greater federal control in the regions, which he said had grown too independent.

With the subsequent decision to replace popular elections for gubernatorial posts with a system in which they are nominated by the Kremlin and the increased control it brought the presidential administration at the regional level, the role of the presidential envoys has become less relevant.