The Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast

November 28, 2013. Address by Oksana Kozlovskaya
at the 25th Session of the Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast

Oksana KozlovskayaThe Speaker started her address with condolences for those who lost their friends and family members in the plane crash in Kazan.

Such tragedies never leave anyone indifferent. This is the entire nation’s grief. On behalf of the people of Tomsk Oblast the Governor and Duma sent their condolences to the President, Parliament and all people of Tatarstan.

December 12th is the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of the Russian Federation

The Constitution of 1993 became a foundation for social consensus. It saved the nation, held it back from falling into anarchy, even from a civil war. It kept Russia’s integrity and secured its development.

The Constitution defined the rights and liberties of man as fundamental values.

Over the past twenty years we had faced hyperinflation, countertrade, salary overdues, unemployment followed by economic upturn, revival of small business, consumer boom, financial crisis 2008 and rise of the innovation economy.

At each stage priorities in people’s private lives naturally changed. However, none of that had any dramatic effect on the Russian Fundamental Law.

Over the twenty years the Constitution changed only once. Two laws extended the presidential and State Duma’s term and introduced the annual government’s report to the federal parliament.

“However, we have to admit that even today social consensus is far from perfect and that there is a big gap between statutory provisions and reality. There is also a growing income gap. Our common cause is to reduce those gaps.

As a rule, constitutions are improved when there is a need to respond to changes in the society, its political and socioeconomic development. By the way, according to scientists, the average life of an unchanged constitution is 17 years.

You all know that recently on the Russian President’s initiative the Russian State Duma approved amendments to the Constitution which allow creation of a unified Supreme Court. The intent behind the novation is to increase the society’s trust in courts and shape a unified law enforcement practice.

This will naturally require dramatic changes in the legal environment and the established ways of individuals’ or business’ interaction with the country’s court system,” said the Speaker.

What does Russian Constitution mean for the people of Tomsk Oblast?

Each region (and Tomsk Oblast is no exception!) is first and foremost a fully legitimate founding entity of the Russian Federation as a federal state, and a full fledged constituent entity of the federation. Each region has a Charter, a government and a legislation. Many among you remember too well as the federal legislation was not able to keep up with the changes in society when the modern society was taking shape. That was when regional parliaments had to pass laws often ahead of the federal legislator.

For example, in Tomsk Oblast the Oblast law on the uniform tax rate for imputed income and small business development programs pushed the region to the entrepreneurship development forefront.

Innovation legislation in Tomsk Oblast has always been regarded and still is among the best in Russia.

Over the twenty years of the Federal Assembly’s activity almost 5,000 laws were passed. More than 3,500 laws were passed in Tomsk Oblast. Whereas in developed countries dozens of thousands of laws were adopted within that period. We have only started on our path.

Over those twenty years dramatic changes took place in the social consciousness as well

The Speaker drew the assembly’s attention to the results of a public opinion poll which shows that almost two thirds of Russians believe that people have become more shrewd and unfriendly. Another third believe that people have become less tolerant towards one another. However, what is very important is that one third believe that people have felt more freedom!

At the same time, sociologists have certified a decrease in the levels of patriotism in the country. In 2007, 78% of Russians spoke of themselves as patriots. In 2013, only 68%. Even though today most Russians still believe that patriotism is devotion to one’s homeland, there are many people who found in patriotism their vocation and work for the country’s good and prosperous future.

Recently, the Russian President submitted to the State Duma federal constitutional bills, one on the National Flag and the other one on the National Anthem of the Russian Federation.

The bills stipulate that the National Flag shall be installed at each school in the country and the National Anthem shall be performed not only in schools but also in other educational institutions on the day of start of the new academic year and on every festive occasion.

Time will show what will be the influence on the levels of patriotism in the country. Anyway, promoting patriotism as part of educational process is obviously a right approach!

Public activity levels in Tomsk Oblast have significantly increased versus those twenty years ago. Just one number – in Tomsk Oblast, according to the Ministry of Justice, there are 228 parties and electoral associations entitled to participate in elections – speaks for itself.

Institutions such as the Public Chamber, Youth Parliament, Public Initiatives Council, Councils of Heads and Speakers of Municipal Entities have been created and successfully function today. We have granted most of them the right of legislative initiative!

About the agenda

There are 43 items on today’s agenda.

Key items:

1. Staffing decisions. Another Duma deputy – Vladimir Khan – moves to municipal service. The Duma has become a true talent foundry for the region’s executive branch.

2. Dramatic changes are proposed to the 2013 budget. Revenues will be increased by almost 230m rubles through receipts from the federal budget plus, for the first time, 120m rubles of private investments. The money will be spent on the construction of a 50 m long swimming pool, engineering of public facilities in Tomsk, support for innovative firms, creation of engineering centers and reimbursement of small business’ leasing expenses.

3. Big changes are made to the budget of the Tomsk Territorial Compulsory Health Insurance Fund. The revenues will also grow by almost 230m rubles through subsidies from the federal CHI Fund and tax and non-tax revenues. Consequently, expenditures on the territorial compulsory health insurance program will grow and the deficit (not taking into account emergency care) will finally go down to zero!

4. The social block contains two new laws to support the education law. The new laws will be owned by municipal entities. Each of them is supported by substantial funding.

5. Investments are a separate subject. The agenda includes three bills aimed at improving the attractiveness of the region for investors.

6. And last. During the Governor’s Hour session we will be presented with a report on the implementation of the Oblast Agreement with Rosatom. Even the most pessimistic forecasts show that as a result of implementation of all of the projects between the corporation and the region, total investments in the region will exceed 100bn rubles. The scope of the Agreement includes setting up new production facilities, creating modern jobs and implementing social and educational projects.

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