Russian minister schooled by MPs & sent off to prepare better in unprecedented move

Russia’s parliament has rejected a report by a cabinet minister and told him to come back with a more comprehensive one in a few weeks – the “first time in 30 years” that such a scenario occurred, according to one party leader.

Economy Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin was totally blindsided on Wednesday, when he appeared for what promised to be a routine report before the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma. Each week the MPs invite a senior member of the government or some security agency to brief them on a specific pre-agreed topic.

Oreshkin was supposed to report on the government’s policies aimed at boosting small and medium-sized business in Russia. However, after he finished reading the document, instead of answering some clarifying questions he found himself confronted about a different issue. The MPs wanted a detailed report into the so-called ‘national projects’ and ‘state programs’ – the terms for large-scale multi-year budget investment initiatives meant to improve life in Russia on a big scale – and how they impact economic growth.

The projects and the need to boost economic growth to a level superior to that of the global average were major points in President Vladimir Putin’s recent speech on the state of the nation. He told the government to waste no time in finding and allocating the money and the MPs to be swift in adopting the necessary laws. The MPs are now both eager to see their constituencies receive their share of the federal funding and agitated to see the government’s plans, which may explain why Oreshkin found himself roasted.

The minister was apparently not prepared for such a discussion and suggested arranging a special event, during which all ministers responsible for some national project show up to report on their work.

But Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin seemed determined to have Oreshkin grilled personally.

“You report to the parliament once a year, so reducing our meeting purely to small and medium business would be wrong,” he said. “After all, the ministry of economy development is responsible for the growth of the economy in the country.”

The MPs and the minister agreed to meet again later this month or at the start of April.

Veteran lawmaker and head of the LDPR party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, later told TASS it was the first time in 30 years of the modern parliament’s history that lawmakers rejected a report of a minister and told him to come back later.

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