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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Levitin Gets a Pasting on Road Program

Itar-TassLeonid Reiman holding Levitin at Thursday's Cabinet meeting, as Vladimir Ustinov and Andrei Fursenko look on.
Ministers lined up to lambaste Transportation Minister Igor Levitin during Thursday's Cabinet meeting over apparent shortcomings in plans to develop the country's road network.

Under Transportation Ministry proposals, a state company would be set up to manage 7,500 kilometers of the country's most congested roads jointly with private companies. Levitin said that these highways should become toll roads, as long as there were alternative routes that were free of charge.

Responding to Levitin's presentation, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov decried ineffective management in the sector and slammed the Transportation Ministry for making a pig's ear of the proposals.

"We are not hurrying you along, but just giving you a kick up the backside so that you hurry up," Fradkov said, adding that the Transportation Ministry guidelines lacked clarity.

Fradkov demanded that Levitin present a new range of measures for road development by Aug. 1 and a new plan for reforming the sector by Dec. 1.

Saying that the 80 billion rubles ($3.1 billion) earmarked for road development was being held up by the Transportation Ministry's mishandling, Fradkov said the minister's presentation had not come up to expectations.

During his presentation, Levitin also called for government expenditure on roads to be increased to 4 percent of gross domestic product.

But First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was scathing about demands to increase investment and demanded a review of government policy by the end of the year.

"It is clear that we are going to carry on investing more and more money and that it will be ineffective," Ivanov said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at the meeting that 220 billion rubles were being spent from the federal budget on the development of the road network this year, with the figure rising to 280 billion rubles in 2008.