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  • Author: Tatiana Lykova, Sergei Sivaev, Raymond J. Struyk, Ekaterina Petrova
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: When Russia's housing allowance program, the country's first means-tested program, was introduced in 1994, it was truly innovative. But there were difficulties from the start, many arising from the division of authority for setting program parameters among different levels of government and the potential for variation in the treatment of similar households in different cities. In 1996, the program's original simple basis for benefit determination was seriously impaired by the introduction of different principles for very low-income households. Moreover, local governments have exhibited a willingness to vary benefits from year-to-year, depending on political and budgetary considerations. The analysis presented here documents the impact of these variations on participation rates in a sample of Russian cities. Large inequities are obviously present in the treatment of similar households from city to city. Indeed, it is questionable whether the program as currently configured is fulfilling the social safety net function envisioned for it in the original legislation.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Sergei Sivaev, Raymond J. Struyk, Valentin Andrianov, Emin Askerov
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: During the past two winters, breakdowns in district heating services in Russia have grabbed international headlines. In Russia these services and water and sewerage services are the responsibility of municipal governments; these governments set the tariffs for these services. This article examines the tariff-setting process during 1997–2001 for these two services with particular emphasis on the decision process for considering tariff increases. We find that little progress has been made during the transition period in developing the legal base for rational tariff-setting procedures. Overall, tariff increases have been substantially less than the rate of inflation. Statistical analysis confirms that decisionmaking is highly politicized and that in times of extreme inflation tariff increases lag even further behind inflation, with the sector being used as a kind of shock absorber to cushion the full impacts of inflation on the population. There is an obvious acute need for leadership at the national level to address these problems.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Raymond Struyk, Douglas E. Whiteley
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The objective of this paper is to introduce the concept of mortgage default insurance as developed in the United States into the context of Russian mortgage lending. The first part of the paper discusses the broad principles and operations of mortgage default insurance offered by private companies as it works in the United States. The pricing of this product and the preconditions for offering such insurance are highlighted. The second section outlines the operation of the U.S. government-supported default insurance offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The final part applies the foregoing information to the situation in Russia today and concludes that the conditions necessary for launching mortgage default insurance do not currently exist in the country. Nevertheless, there are a number of essential actions that can and should be taken over the next several months to put Russia on the road to establishing such insurance in a few years. The paper finishes with a possible action plan for the next two years.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Raymond J. Struyk, L. Jerome Gallagher
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: A hallmark of the administration of social assistance under the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and the USSR was the universal nature of eligibility for benefits, either to all citizens or to categories of deserving citizens, e.g., the physically handicapped. During the transition period since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has taken limited steps to improve the targeting of benefits. The challenge to improvement is acute because the administration of the great majority of programs rests with agencies of local government. The question addressed here is how amenable local program administration is to improved targeting and more progressive program administration in general. Presented is an analysis of the results of assessments of two pilot programs implemented in two Russian cities in 2000–2001. The “school lunch pilot” introduced means testing in the school lunch program on a citywide basis; eligible families receive cash payments and all children pay the same price for their lunches in cash. The “jobs pilot” is a new, local means-tested program that provides cash support to families while unemployed workers search for work; continued receipt of funds is conditional on a minimum job search effort. We find that both programs were successfully implemented and that there was little resistance to the sharper targeting. On the other hand, a variety of problems with program administration were identified—problems that need to be addressed if program integrity and credibility are to be maintained.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Raymond J. Struyk, Burton Richman
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Competent administration is fundamental to successful reform of social assistance programs in transition economies. Only with such administration is there assurance that benefits are being delivered as intended in enabling legislation. Moreover, the perceived efficiency and fairness of administration influences the public's views of the new programs. In the Russian Federation local governments have primary responsibility for the administration of social assistance programs enacted by all levels of government
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia