Igor Gulakov: ‘Maybe we should buy advanced technologies and not imitate import copying?’

The arbitration manager about Russian bureaucracy and business support

Russia can only rely on its own forces in the near future, Dmitry Medvedev stated. The deputy head of the Security Council stressed that there are certain advantages for the country in this, “because it is an impulse to new breakthrough solutions”. However, for now our officials are more busy imitating import substitution, according to the arbitration manager from Moscow, member of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Trade Union of Arbitration Managers, Igor Gulakov. In the author's column for Realnoe Vremya, the expert discusses the nature of the Russian bureaucracy, business support and solutions to problems.

We are confronted with the fact that foreign states will not help us

I once talked to the mayor of the city. And he shared his experience: God forbid to take the initiative! If you have an idea, while you are setting up a new system, small mistakes emerge, for which you will be fully responsible. What is lowered from above, you do according to the instructions and cushion yourself with papers.

I think this official can be put in the place of any all-Russian official, who can be low- or high-ranking, and any direction, and nothing will change. Everything is as before, it seems to be being done, but for some reason Brezhnev's stagnation is remembered. There is money from the sale of oil and gas — we spend on global image projects, massively buy goods in the West. What about our producers? What to buy from them? The quality is low, the service, too. Maybe it's worth buying advanced, not yesterday's technologies and not imitating import copying, but making breakthroughs in high-tech industries and actively implementing them?

Now troubles have come, and the bureaucracy is faced with that foreign states will not help us, we need to rely on ourselves. But how can we rely on ourselves if an official can only supervise, identify violations, prohibit and punish? He is not accustomed to build and help! If you beat with a stick, then the most nimble, dexterous ones survive, with whom you can negotiate on the sly. But the goals of increasing the overall entrepreneurial activity are being voiced. But who needs this rat fuss when any entrepreneur can have problems at any moment, in fact, up to the confiscation of all property?

“Will there be breakthroughs if, after the first failure, a person with a fountain of ideas is immediately 'shut up'?"

Many people have heard that some famous people in the United States went through a series of bankruptcies before they have become what they are. According to statistics, 92% of launched startups die and only 1% achieve great success. In our country, any bankruptcy is a life sentence. Judge for yourself, will there be breakthroughs if, after the first failure, a person with a fountain of ideas is immediately 'shut up'? He won't have a chance to try again and again. Yes, investors and creditors suffer. But the entrepreneur has a chance to make a breakthrough. The devil is in the details. It seems that the legislators have good intentions — to prevent fraud, to punish the guilty, but in fact, everything turns into a long “bloody conflict”. Does the state really think that by increasing the official influence on businesses, they help them?

There is no need to go to the other extreme — the state is not needed, the market will sort everything out. In the 1990s, “freedom” was more than enough, or rather, there were enough “cover”, not only purely criminal, but also state ones: the police, the prosecutor's office, the FSB. It was possible to negotiate with any official for a small bribe, so that at least he did not interfere, did not nightmarise with bureaucracy.

Therefore, we return to the dog in the manger, which can only bite, and for some reason the shepherd communicates in high places, does not see what is happening on the ground. Or rather, he looks at it but only when another emergency happens. They punish the guilty demonstratively, even sometimes some supervisors who are excessively carried away with replenishing their pockets. But this is cleaning up the consequences, not working on the system.

Now many people take the prime minister as an example. The efficiency of the tax service under him has increased dramatically. Everyone began to pray for digitalisation. Routine processes that can be algorithmised and automated are better to computerise. But how do you automate management decisions that you don't want to be personally responsible for? What is done in such cases? False KPIs are created, empty activities are activated, the guilty are appointed (entrepreneurs, of course). And God forbid you listen to the controlled ones — it's still not clear what they do (there is no relevant experience or education), and you will still be accused of corruption conspiracy.

“And our ideology is like theirs”

Therefore, the benefits of digitalisation will soon end. And what will the upper classes do with people, officials? And there is no opportunity to copy as before. We need to change a lot. And how to change and whether they will allow this? After the nineties, oligarchs (at least non-friends) have been gradually separated from power, the media have been tamed, obvious corruption has been reduced, and manageability has been improved. That's great, but it doesn't make us leaders. They do the same all over the world.

But for some reason we are trying to copy, to spend energy, attention, resources on what is imposed on us, on the shell, not on the essence. Who is in the lead? Those who develop science, who create the best conditions for the implementation of ideas! But what is it in our country? At best, the military-industrial complex is engaged in science, but even there on the basis of old Soviet developments. What will happen to the military-industrial complex if the old professors and masters pass away or are lured away? Education is criticised by everyone. And the working conditions there, to put it mildly, are different.

We can put an iron curtain, but in the age of high technology it will be like a sieve and, most importantly, will not ensure loyalty. And our ideology is like theirs. Rather, we accept Western fashion after some resistance. Not soon, not quickly, decades later, but we accept and try to catch up. Now many are talking about the need for their leadership ideology for the whole world. But what ideology can officials come up with other than “get rich and enjoy”? So this old idea of the West. There is a beautiful showcase in the West, and everyone will stare there, not here, until we become the first economy in the world. And we will not become the first economy until the brains of the officials do not work differently.

And most importantly, is there a will for change? It seems that the vertical of power is built. Everyone rushes to implement marching orders. They rush, but the effect is often negative: “One of our bureaucrats replaces ten of their terrorists.” In the scientific dictionary and political practice, the concept of “bureaucracy” is literally “the power of the office, the domination of management apparatus”; from the French bureau — the office, the green cloth that covered the tables of officials of state offices, and Greek kratos — power, domination. That is, it does not matter who is at the very top — the officials have the power. Some intelligent people communicated with the top person. On the fingers they explained the perniciousness of economic policy in some areas. “And my servants explained to me that we are doing the right thing.” As a result, we are still where we started, otherwise a lot needs to be changed in management. But to get people you can trust if old comrades are fleeing from an attacked ship in a time of need?

The state has correctly started to promote the project “Russia is Land of Opportunity”, this is the selection of fresh “blood” with new ideas. But so that the “blood” does not stagnate and is not sour, you need to give the right to make a mistake and change the regulations. To change what is more important: to stop violations and illegal activities — to set up for bans and punishments, deter or develop entrepreneurial activity — to appoint those responsible for the development of certain areas with the transfer of infrastructure development rights and resolving complaints of entrepreneurs at local level.

Igor Gulakov

The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.

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