We looked at last week’s news. What’s it mean? There wasn’t a lot of commentary about it, but there were two very good pieces.
To backtrack a little, if it looks like Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov might be (just might be) getting an upper hand on forcing defense producers to his prices instead of vice versa, then the commentaries give insight into what is happening (or may happen) if Serdyukov succeeds in driving hard bargains with the OPK.
Moskovskiy komsomolets’ Olga Bozhyeva asked a general who worked on the GOZ to comment on this year’s situation:
“The Defense Ministry now lacks an organ with responsibility for contracting work, beginning with formation of initial prices and ending with accepting the results. In the past, the chief of armament’s apparatus performed these functions, currently it’s been transformed into a department with unintelligible functions. Tax organ officials who’ve come into the Defense Ministry’s key financial posts can’t connect the price of a product with the characteristics of the model being produced and its contribution to the country’s security. In the Defense Ministry in recent years, three basic methods of calculating the cost of a product have been introduced, but not one of them factors in the substantive part of the work. They are all built on the principle: I have a certain amount of money, I want to give you this much of it. But putting it to concrete use no longer interests anyone. And it turns out that the methods of calculating prices in the Defense Ministry and in VPK enterprises are different. The people speak different languages . . . .”
“In a market economy, you have to survive somehow. Here is not America, where work for the Pentagon brings a good profit. With us, it only allows you to survive. And that is if they allow it. But they don’t let everyone.”
“Here not long ago the Defense Minister got indignant, for example, that shipbuilders [Sevmash] had become so brazen that they also put the cost of kindergartens and other “social benefits” into the price of a missile-carrier [SSBN].”
“I’m not a taxman, evidently, since I don’t understand: but where can they put it? Let’s take Severodvinsk here. It is completely dependent on “Sevmashpredpriyatiye.” Like it or not, the kindergartens, schools, hospitals, clinics, housing – the factory has to maintain all of it. And, naturally, they put the upkeep into their production cost. How can it be otherwise? If there aren’t kindergartens – there aren’t missile-carriers.”
Editorializing in Nezavisimaya gazeta, Viktor Litovkin writes:
“What are the causes of such an ‘inability to agree?’ In the fact, in my view, that it’s impossible to marry purely administrative approaches to the imposition of concrete military department prices on defense enterprises with largely market relationships which exist for the defense sector today. With achieving that degree of Gosoboronzakaz profitability in which enterprises have the chance not just to survive, but also develop. Several defense NII and factory directors, undoubtedly following the example of MIT General Designer Yuriy Solomonov, have already even stopped ‘fearing’ to publicize their disagreements with the Defense Ministry in front of journalists. General Director of NII Instrument-building named for Tikhomirov, Yuriy Belyy told me ‘in the ordering structures of the military department people have come, who, to put it mildly, don’t understand anything about production and price formation’ (this, by the way, also means Anatoliy Serdyukov. – ‘NVO’ No. 25). ‘Still they always demand the reduction of invoiced expenditures, reduction of profits, of labor input. And often arbitrarily disregard prices on final goods.’ This, in his words, is happening all over the defense sector.”
“’If we had the GOZ alone, the enterprise would have died long ago,’ Yuriy Belyy told me. ‘There are practically no resources remaining for development after GOZ fulfillment. It isn’t understood that wages take according to some kind of averaging principle. Invoicing expenses also. So goes the practical strangulation of the defense sector. In the country’s leadership they say that the OPK’s profitability is the locomotive of industry, should be not less than 15%, but in fact it’s not more than 5-7%. And, the main thing, not understood, is with whom to talk in the Defense Ministry. Completely incompetent people have arrived. Their mission is not the development of industry, not increasing the country’s defense capability, their mission is to save money by any means.’”
“An enterprise producing a final product, like ‘Dolgorukiy,’ which buys metals, nuclear reactors, various components at market prices from the monopoly producers of these products, can’t give away the good created by its workers lower or a little, one-two percent, higher than its own cost, or lower than its profitability level. It can’t buy new machine tools, technology, reequip its production line, train and select new highly-qualified personnel, provide them housing . . . . It can’t not think about tomorrow.”
“And from the other side, if it’s possible to pay the French one and a half billion Euros for ‘Mistrals’ we need or don’t need, then why does ‘Sevmash’ have to give away a strategic submarine extremely essential to the Navy and Russia for free?!”