Environment Watchdog Chief: We’ll Strip off All Husks that Inhibit Business

Environment Watchdog Chief: We’ll Strip off All Husks that Inhibit Business

Photo: https://www.rbc.ru/

This headline was borrowed from Izvestia’s interview with Svetlana Radionova, head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in 2019. At that time, she spoke about the low-key fight against offenders, the reform at her agency etc.

Just ahead of SPIEF 2021, we can look back to see her achievements and the outstanding challenges.

Svetlana Radionova is considered to be a rather tough but effective manager. Over a short period, she managed to put the entire Rosprirodnadzor on a new footing. Large-scale changes are always not easy, but Radionova has the experience that helps her cope with difficulties.

During her two years in office, Radionova restructured the agency and tried to improve its efficiency. Some tasks have been accomplished.

"Fines will not change the situation. Constant monitoring is needed." This maxim of hers gives the idea of the reform she plans for Rosprirodnadzor. Pursuing this strategy, Radionova does whatever is required of her. For example, to maximize environmental control, the Agency increased its task force by hiring more inspectors and providing them with the most advanced monitoring equipment. For this purpose, additional funds are allocated.

However, people do not always become inspectors by vocation or with good intentions, especially in remote regions of the country. Many officials admittedly view any fiscal and supervisory functions and powers as a tool for making money and enriching themselves with impunity.

Rosprirodnadzor pays a lot of attention to human resources. According to the head of the agency, inspectors must be passionate about their job and interested in the results.

Rosprirodnadzor has already been reconfigured. The departments that supervise the work of regional offices have been abolished. Each territorial branch within Rospotrebnadzor is now in charge of several regions. Plans are in place to increase salaries for rank-and-file inspectors through redistribution of agency resources.

However, some regional inspectors get their jobs not for salaries, but for the sake of corrupt practices. None of them wants to lose their unofficial sources of income, just because the new head of the agency decided to make their work transparent.

That is why Radionova's reforms are stalled. That is why she said that the fines didn’t solve problems. These notorious fines remain the major achievements of her subordinates in provinces. Indeed, they do not solve the real environmental problems and do not reduce violations of environmental laws.

Svetlana Radionova believes that the main task of her agency is to create an atmosphere to encourage businesses and people to stay in the legal fold. To implement these plans, she would first have to clear her own Augean stable and make sure that the Rosprirodnadzor staff, who often fine the companies they cannot get kickbacks from, learn to live by the law. But most of these employees are unlikely to mend their ways even if they get a payrise. Apparently, conservative measures are not always helpful. OK then: faulty elements of a system have to be replaced. Svetlana Radionova should truly get rid of the‘husks,’ as she said two years ago.

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