Alexei Kudrin : biography
Alexei Leonidovich Kudrin () (born 12 October 1960) is a Russian political figure who served in the government of Russia as Minister of Finance from 18 May 2000 to 26 September 2011. After graduating with degrees in finance and economics, Kudrin worked in the administration of Saint Petersburg's liberal Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. In 1996 he started working in the Presidential Administration of Boris Yeltsin. He was appointed as Finance Minister on 28 May 2000 and held the post for 11 years, making him the longest-serving Finance Minister in post-Soviet Russia. In addition, he was Deputy Prime Minister in 2000–2004 and again beginning in 2007. As Finance Minister, Kudrin was widely credited with prudent fiscal management, commitment to tax and budget reform and championing the free market.
Under Kudrin, Russia's government paid most of the substantial foreign debt it had accumulated in the 1990s, leaving the country with one of the lowest foreign debts among major economies.[https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2079rank.html Debt – external], CIA World Factbook. Accessed on 22 May 2010. Much of the revenue from exports was accumulated at the Stabilization Fund which helped Russia to come out of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis in a much better state than many experts expected. During his career, Kudrin has won several awards, including the "Finance Minister of the Year 2010" prize from Euromoney magazine. He was asked to resign from his position on 26 September 2011 by President Dmitry Medvedev.
Currently, he is the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences in St. Petersburg State University.
Since his appointment as Finance Minister in May 2000, Kudrin has been one of the most visible and influential figures in the Russian government. Kudrin belongs to the group of so-called "St Petersburg economists"—liberal reformers who worked with Putin during his time in the St Petersburg administration—one of the three main informal groups during Putin's presidency. John P. Willerton regards Kudrin and German Gref as the leading intellectual forces in crafting of the economic policies of the Putin and Medvedev presidencies. According to Simon Pirani, Kudrin has balanced the influence of the siloviki in the government with a financial sobriety.
Prudent fiscal management
During Putin's presidency, Russia's macroeconomic policies were highly prudent, and extra income from oil exports was put in stabilization funds. The Stabilization Fund of the Russian Federation is widely regarded as Kudrin's idea. Alexander Osin, chief economist at Finam Management, regards the Stabilization Fund as one of Kudrin's main achievements. However, other analysts have described The Stabilization Fund as "dead money", which doesn't benefit the real economy. The Stabilization Fund was split into the Reserve Fund and National Welfare Fund in February 2008.
In 2005, Kudrin and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov clashed over a proposal to cut VAT tax from 18% to 13%. Fradkov supported the proposal, but Kudrin argued that lower VAT could endanger stability of the ruble and would cause the government to withdraw money from the stabilization fund. The same year, Kudrin received the "Finance Minister of the Year 2005" award by the Banker magazine.
On 21 August 2006, Russia paid its debts, totalling $23.7 billion to the Paris Club. Simon Pirani, writing for Emerging Markets, praised Kudrin's refusal to be "blown off course by other ministers' whims" in his quest to repay the debt. He also credited Kudrin with sound conduct of the ruble exchange rate and capable fiscal management that has arguable helped to prevent the most serious problems of the so-called Dutch disease. In 2006 Kudrin received the award "Best Finance Minister of a Developing European Country" by the Emerging Markets newspaper, published by the IMF and the World Bank.
As the father and supporter of the prudent fiscal management policies, Kudrin had to endure strong criticism from other members of the government, who believed the money should instead be invested in the country's development. In the end, Kudrin's stance prevailed. The savings later proved crucial in helping Russia to come out of the financial crisis in a much better state than many experts had expected, and Kudrin was widely credited for his policies.
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