The discussion focused on efforts to fight corruption and wasteful and ineffective state spending.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends and colleagues.
We are meeting today to discuss your project, For Fair Public Procurement, and its results.
Let me start by saying that the ONF has established itself as a respected and broad-based organisation of nationwide scale. It is not even an organisation, but a movement. After all, the word ‘organisation’ always has bureaucratic associations, but in your case, there is an absolute minimum of bureaucracy, and this is very good. Your support base is our people, our citizens, and this is certainly the best support base one could have.
Your project, For Fair Public Procurement, is something our country needs in the sense that we really do need to cleanse our economy and social sphere of all the obstacles that are holding us back. By the economy, I also mean the effort to fight corruption, which suppresses any kind of economic activity. We still have a lot of work to do in this area. It is not possible to improve our investment climate either unless we fight corruption. If everyone is busy divvying things up amongst ‘their own mates and buddies’, we will never get anywhere in terms of efficiency.
In this respect, I want to say that you are working on what is really our common agenda, and this work is extremely important. I hope that your project will not have to be such a long-term undertaking and that together we will succeed in making tangible progress and changing things for the better.
I know that ONF members have come under some pressure, especially in their anti-corruption efforts. Of course, not everyone is happy when people speak openly and frankly, turn the spotlight on problems and talk about their causes. Probably, no one likes criticism, and we are all the same in this respect. Justified criticism is helpful though, and everyone confronted with these problems needs to realise that ultimately, this criticism is for the good of all, for the good of all honest people, of course.
There is also the question of small and medium business. We are putting into place an entire support system for small and medium business and will keep working in this direction. At the same time, small and medium business representatives must behave in honest and decent fashion towards their partners, and above all, towards their customers, the people who use the goods and services that small businesses produce and provide.
In this respect, as you know, our Taxation Service is conducting an experiment in several regions and the needed decisions have been taken so that we can introduce conditions that will enable practically everyone in Russia, if they so desire, to receive additional information on the particular product or service purchased.
The experiment has been quite a success so far and has brought some good results. The relevant legislative decisions are now in process. I propose that we start today’s discussion by giving the floor to the Head of the Federal Taxation Service [Mikhail Mishustin], who will give a brief account of the plans, the agreements we have reached, and what decisions we can expect following this experiment currently underway in…was it three or four regions? In four regions.
This experiment involves businesses installing new cash registers, it is true, but as I said at my recent meeting with the head of the Federal Taxation Service, businesses should bear only minimal expenses or no expenses at all, and this can be achieved by making the cost tax deductible.