More than half of Russians believe that the government should be focusing on the re-industrialization of the country and the development of science and education as the main means of countering the economic crisis, a poll by Moscow-based VTsIOM has found.
The study, conducted on February 20-21, asked respondents to name two actions they believe the government should take in order to correct the ongoing economic crisis that has seen Russia’s economy contract by nearly half, in dollar terms, in 2015.
52% of respondents said the government should focus on developing Russian industry, as well as science and education in the country. 20% said that a reduction of the state budget was necessary, while the limiting of foreign currency circulation and the carrying out of market reforms each scored 18%.
Russia’s economy ministry recently announced that the budget assumption of $50 oil and a 3.1% of GDP budget deficit were well off the mark, suggesting people should instead expect $40 oil in 2016 and 5.1% budget deficit.
Since Western sanctions were imposed in early 2014, there has been much talk of Russia countering their effect via a programme of import substitution, but the country is yet to see any kind of marked increase in domestic production.
25% of respondents said that the failure of the import substitution programme is mainly down to mismanagement at a local level. 23% said that Russia’s backward technologies are holding back domestic production. 21% said that a lack of any clear government plan of implementation was the biggest hurdle to domestic goods being produced to a scale sufficient to plug the gap left by Russia’s lack of access to international markets.
VTsIOM’s communications director, Alexey Firsov, said that society is “tired of an economy that is tied to oil market conditions and dependent on commodity prices returning to comfortable levels”. He noted that many Russians want a return to the era of industrialsation that the country experienced in the 1920s and 30s.
However, while many Russians clearly desire a new era of Russian industry, the poll also showed that few would be willing to live within 5km of a new plant or factory. 50% of respondents were opposed to the idea, while only 38% said they would have no problem with it. Residents of largely services-oriented Moscow and St Petersburg were the most opposed to living near a plant, with 60% against the idea. Those in villages were the most positive about it, with 50% saying they would live near one.