New Russian PM may manage economy better

A day after Russia’s government led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned to pave way for major political reforms, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Thursday appointing the country’s tax service head Mikhail Mishustin, above right, as the new prime minister, TASS reports.

Putin also signed a decree on including Mishustin in the Russian Security Council.

Earlier in the day, the State Duma or lower house of parliament overwhelmingly voted for Mishustin’s appointment as prime minister.

Putin named Medvedev as the deputy chairman of the Security Council which will play an advisory role. Medvedev will formally meet Mishustin on Friday.

The new prime minister is expected to name his Cabinet team within a few days.

No one thought a routine state-of-the-nation address by Putin on Wednesday would lead to major political changes. The president also gave a clear message to Russians that he will not be seeking another term in 2024.

What surprised many was the choice of Mishustin who was little known beyond the political and official circles in Moscow.

However, as head of the Federal Tax Service, Mishustin managed to triple tax revenues while ensuring the tax burden does not rise above two percent.

He was responsible for computerising tariff collection process and making it one of the most efficient in the world. Last year, a financial daily called him the ‘taxman of the future’.

Mishustin is a noncontroversial man who can raise money for welfare and infrastructure projects without upsetting businesses.

Speaking at a plenary session of the State Duma, Mishustin said that due to economic stability and budget surplus, the government has enough funds to achieve the goals set by Putin in his address to the nation.

Putin announced several welfare measures for children, primary school students, teachers and poor families. Priority will be for their well-being, Mishustin said.

Colleagues regard Mishustin as an IT professional who is positive, accessible, friendly and humorous. But he is also demanding and expects everyone to strictly follow his instructions and do a thorough job.

Speaking to a team tasked with drafting proposals for constitutional amendments, Putin said such changes should not turn Russia into a parliamentary republic.

The parliament and civil society will have a bigger role to play in future but Russia will remain a presidential republic.

The president’s tenure may be restricted to two terms or 12 years, he said.