'Some people refuse to become deputies not to report the income'
The Council of Municipalities of the Republic of Tatarstan called for relieving of the obligation to report their income for the heads of settlements
The Council of Municipalities of the Republic of Tatarstan Association asks to release the heads of urban and rural settlements from the obligation to report their income annually, offering to switch them to a simplified system (to report every 3 years if necessary). With the support of the majority of the heads of settlements, the Council has recently submitted a legislative initiative to the parliament of Tatarstan, justifying it with low risks of corruption consequences. “There are active young people in the districts, I persuaded them to become deputies — they categorically refused," the head of the Tyulyachinsky district, Nazip Khazipov, lamented at the press conference, pointing out that none of the “candidates” wants to become deputies so as not to disclose their income. However, the parliament of the republic reacted to the proposal with caution, putting the project on the shelf.
Simplified procedure for heads and deputies
Annual income reporting causes great irritation among the heads of urban and rural settlements of the Republic of Tatarstan, who perceive it as an unnecessary burden on the background of their modest incomes. Their common position was announced on 18 November by the representative of the Council of Municipalities of the Republic of Tatarstan Association, Sergey Stolyarov.
Speaking at the press conference dedicated to the prevention of corruption offenses in the field of local self-government and the organisation of public control over the activities of state authorities, local self-government bodies, he criticised the rules for income reporting of heads of municipalities and settlements.
“On the one hand, the requirements for reporting ensure the openness [of local authorities], but on the other hand, they are burdensome for the heads of rural settlements. He is one in three persons: he is the head of the settlement, the chairman of the council, and the head of the executive committee. Therefore, reporting is a certain difficulty for them," Stolyarov said, adding that such requests regularly come to the council from different regions of the republic.
To save rural heads from this bureaucratic hassle, the Council of Municipalities of the Republic of Tatarstan proposes to introduce a simplified procedure for income reporting. “What is the simplification? They submit statements only if they make large transactions in the reporting period for an amount exceeding the income for the last 3 years. If there were none, then they provide a certificate that they did not make such transactions," explained Stolyarov.
Simply put, the head and deputies of settlements are required to report income only once — upon taking office. The next declaration must be submitted in 3 years, if during this time they have made a transaction exceeding the income for these 3 years. But if the head or deputy of the settlement did not buy steamships-planes, then he is allowed to limit himself to the usual certificate without a statement. Now, according to such simplified reporting scheme, deputies of rural settlements who work on a non-permanent basis report.
Risks of financial benefits are insignificant
The council receives a lot of appeals “with a proposal to extend this procedure also to the heads of rural settlements and deputies of representative bodies of urban settlements”, said Sergey Stolyarov, the head of the legal department of the association. In his opinion, the transition to simplified form of reporting does not carry “the risks of obtaining financial benefits”, but “will allow them to remove unnecessary burden”. In addition, the supervisory bodies, which are obliged to check their statements annually, will also benefit from this.
Moreover, the idea of the deputies' transition to the “simplified procedure” has received legal formalisation. According to Sergey Stolyarov, the relevant bill has been submitted to the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan to enter the federal level of discussion. Facilitating the declaration procedure “will contribute to the formation of a strong deputy corps in rural settlements”, the authors of the initiative believe, admitting that “not everyone will agree with this”.
There were no dissenters with the transition of deputies to the simplified procedure. On the contrary, the head of the Tyulyachinsky district and ex-Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Tatarstan, Nazip Khazipov, confirmed that the villagers do not accept the reporting of income.
“There are active creative young people in the districts… Last year I tried to persuade them to become deputies — they don't agree at all," he worried, saying that not everyone likes to demonstrate how much they earn. “Sometimes a ruble and a penny don't match.”
Discussing the topic raised, Salavat Rakhimov, the chief adviser of the Office of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan on anti-corruption policy, did not spoke bluntly, saying that exemption from the obligation to provide a statement is a debatable issue. According to him, the federal legislator has already made “certain concessions” for deputies on an unprofessional basis, but doubts that they will be expanded.
Will the risks of everyone switching to a simplified system increase or decrease? In his opinion, the verification of statements is not the only way to counter corruption. “This is one of the main measures, but still preventive," he said evasively. At the same time, he admitted that at the level of rural settlements, some people refuse to become deputies because they need to provide information about their income.
“They really say: I don't want to show everyone what amounts I earn," he concluded.
The heads will be “passed” through the rating of the effectiveness of anti-corruption policy
Meanwhile, the level of detected corruption has increased by one and a half times. According to Salavat Rakhimov, since the beginning of the year, 254 facts of corruption violations have been established, 242 persons among state and municipal employees have been brought to justice. As a positive example of the fight against corruption, he cited Kazan, Mamadysh, Kaibitsky and Yutazinsky districts. Anti-corruption work has not been established in Arsky, Aktanyshsky, Alekseevsky, Alkeevsky, Atninsky, Verkhne-Uslonsky, Kamsko-Ustinsky, Nurlatsky, Muslyumovsky, Tukayevsky and Cheremshansky districts. According to him, the first rating of the effectiveness of anti-corruption policy among municipalities will be presented soon, which is being prepared together with the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Inspections among the management staff have intensified. Since the beginning of the year, 29 have been held instead of 21 last year. According to their results, four officials holding state and municipal posts were dismissed due to loss of trust. Their names were not mentioned.
“There were separate decisions on each, including the President of the Republic of Tatarstan," Rakhimov said. As an example, he cited the resignations of deputies in Tyulyachinsky and Chistopolsky districts, who refused to provide information on income, as well as the story of a woman deputy of the Nizhnekamsk district, who allegedly sold KAMAZ for 10 rubles instead of the actual 250 thousand rubles, and also concealed two land plots of 3,7 hectares and 20 acres.”
How to avoid a “conflict of interest” in rural areas?
The discussion about the “simplified” income reporting has risen against the background of the recent approval of the national anti-corruption plan for 2021-2024, which was signed in August by the president of the country. According to the decree, state agencies, local self-government bodies and organisations must carry out activities “aimed at preventing and combating corruption, as well as minimising and eliminating the consequences of corruption offenses”.
At the same time, the head of the state demanded to clarify the concepts of “conflict of interests” and “close relations”. At the moment, these formulations are interpreted in different ways. The Council of Municipalities of the Republic of Tatarstan believes that it is difficult to avoid a “conflict of interests” in rural areas.
“Unfortunately, in rural settlements there is a conflict of interests [of the head] when concluding contracts for landscaping, snow removal," explains Sergey Stolyarov. “The thing is that in rural settlements, as a rule, there are many relatives of the head of the rural settlement who signs these contracts. Therefore, there are cases when a contract for snow removal from the streets is concluded with a relative of the head. On this basis, a conflict of interests is seen.”
The speaker added that in the current legal field, the head has “a limited number of persons with whom it is possible to conclude a contract”.