Taking part in the meeting were members of the ASI Supervisory Board, including First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov and Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, as well as Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, directors of some ASI initiatives, plus representatives of several companies.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today we are holding a regular meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. But first of all I would like to thank you once again for your joint work, for your efforts aimed at promoting landmark projects, which are yielding practical results and are encouraging the creation of domestic technology, the development of advanced forms of education and personnel training, the promotion of best practices in terms of conditions for doing business, as well as a modern living environment in cities and towns.
We established the agency almost 10 years ago. Over the first nine years, you have greatly expanded your competencies and potential, which, as I would like to point out, has helped us to rapidly launch the initiatives which the people need at this difficult period of the epidemic, providing substantial and considerable assistance to families, in particular, by organising online learning for children, which we have discussed several times, and by providing help to our senior citizens in a modern format. I would like to repeat that you have succeeded in many ways.
I have said this many times and I would like to note again – nine years ago, it was the right decision to establish the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. Above all, because you always prioritise people’s demands and lift barriers to substantive ideas as well as business and social initiatives. You are always open to cooperation and joint work. Naturally, the number of partners you have is constantly growing all across Russia; their geography is wide. They include noncommercial and public organisations, universities, colleges, schools, small and medium-sized businesses and technological entrepreneurs, as well as, importantly, management teams in municipalities, regions, federal ministries and agencies.
Incidentally, more and more experts who used to be involved in the agency’s activities are now working at various levels of government: there are deputy ministers and governors who worked at the agency for several years. Of course, they share your vision and are now ready to implement your proposals and initiatives. This means that the agency’s team is getting stronger, more professional and united.
I hope that in the future you will continue to act just as effectively together in the key spheres of the national agenda. In this sense, I would like to hear about your prospective plans and new projects. We always discuss this at meetings like today’s. I also suggest focusing on issues related to creating a favourable business environment. You have been working on this for almost nine years.
At your initiative, the national ranking of the investment climate in the Russian regions is issued annually. It is true that it helps assess business conditions based on the opinion of entrepreneurs.
I would like to ask you to elaborate on the regions that showed good results and trends, as well as to outline the systemic barriers that are still holding down entrepreneurs’ work.
Let us get down to work.
Vladimir Putin: Well, colleagues, let us review today’s discussion. First of all, I would like to thank you, my friends, members of the Supervisory Board, for working closely with the ASI, for devoting time and effort, even some financial help and the exchange of ideas. This is very important. Thank you for your evaluations of ASI work.
We have also discussed in detail the plans for the agency that are intertwined, which is very important, with the key items on the national development agenda.
I would like to emphasise that everything we are doing, all the major goals of our state policy, as I have said many times, and as we see our goals, all is being done for the sake of the people. These plans are aimed at creating opportunities for healthcare, honest work, education and the raising of children. All of these things have been mentioned today. The same goals were pursued during the difficult months of countering the epidemic. As I mentioned, the ASI made a tangible contribution to this.
The main, fundamental principles of our policy have been reflected in the updated text of the Constitution of Russia. Our colleagues have mentioned this today as well. It is important to develop these norms of the Fundamental Law in every region of the Federation, every city and every residential location. Incidentally, we have already started implementing many ideas fixed in the constitutional amendments. In effect, we have merely fixed in the Constitution what life itself has required. It is important to make sure that people feel and see real changes for the better, and this largely depends on the effective, smooth performance of all regions of the Federation.
In this context, I would like to highlight that the Agency for Strategic Initiatives has always set high, modern standards for regional management teams. It has disseminated the experience of leaders, helped the regions to learn new ideas and introduce advanced practices and methods. Colleagues, your projects must continue serving as a serious impetus for positive regional change, including the improvement of the business environment.
We have always discussed the results of the investment climate national rating. This is extremely important. I would like to congratulate the winners once again. It is great that new leaders are emerging around us here. I would also like to particularly thank the regions that have shown high positive dynamics. We have spoken about Bashkiria, Nizhny Novgorod Region and Trans-Baikal Territory, which have made a real breakthrough in the investment rating in a short time.
To reiterate, the most important thing now is to ramp up our efforts and improve the business environment. The situation is challenging, but we will succeed if we do a good job improving the business environment. In order to adopt good goal-oriented decisions, we need to have a clear understanding of the range of limitations and difficulties that specific companies, entrepreneurs and self-employed citizens are facing. It is important to see, sense and show the current and remaining problems.
In a word, the National Ratings should become a more sensitive barometer of business needs. Therefore, of course, I agree that it is necessary to update the ratings methodology, as well as the standards and requirements for the regional teams, including areas such as training personnel, the availability of financial support and promoting exports. It is imperative to accurately assess the state of the infrastructure, and the federal departments’ and oversight services’ contribution to improving the business environment on the ground.
Increased investment in the regional economy should serve as an indicator of business environment quality and entrepreneurs’ level of trust. The process is not the destination – this is what we should strive for. A process is a process. It is about developing tools. What we need is the result – the promotion of small and medium-sized businesses. We must follow the developments – this is what we should strive for. It is important to create new jobs.
Today, we also covered in detail National Technology Initiative projects in promising areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum communications and remote learning.
To reiterate, we will obtain a long-term system-wide effect and ensure a genuine technological breakthrough if advanced solutions increase our companies’ efficiency, open up new employment niches and, importantly, are widely used in everyday life in urban and rural areas.
Everyone, including, and perhaps, primarily, younger people, schoolchildren, university students and young entrepreneurs, should be directly involved in creating and implementing innovations.
I would like to ask the Agency, those involved in the National Technology Initiative, to suggest specific steps on including the technology development agenda in every region, all regional education systems – from schools and technical vocation groups to colleges and universities. Naturally, the development of technology should not sideline adults or experienced and established people who have not yet become a part of today’s world in this respect. They should not be deprived of the prospects offered by technological progress today. On the contrary, in the final count, they should also see new targets for growth and improvement of living standards.
Thus, WorldSkills Russia has the experience of remotely teaching modern, popular professions. Most importantly, it teaches practical skills rather than just theory. I would like to ask the Government to make broader use of retraining course upgrades.
Of course, we are bound to support the new idea of implementing the national social initiative. Obviously, this must be supported. I would like to ask the Agency to work closely with the Government. Mr Belousov is hearing this. I am sure he knows this and has prepared all this together with you today. I would like to ask you, Mr Belousov and all Government members to join in this work. It is necessary to discuss these issues with the regions, the working group of the State Council, experts, as well as with public and non-profit organisations. It is essential to use the experience of the National Business Initiative that was very well promoted by the ASI in the past, when it managed to remove many legal, normative barriers, and take into account the requirements of the business community itself. Indeed, the ASI was the only one to deal with these issues. This is true.
Now it is necessary to take a good look at real-life situations, at the problems encountered by our people, primarily, families with children, the elderly and disabled people. It is necessary to generalise the experience of the regions in improving the performance of schools, hospitals and other social facilities, including best practices on countering the pandemic and our groundwork on introducing the “lean production” project.
To reiterate, the agency’s immediate goal is to create incentives for the regions to make groundbreaking changes in the social environment. To do so, it is imperative to build a modern, properly functioning system for training local management teams and sharing best practices. It is also important to review the available experience and provide information support. It is important for the nation to know where and what is being done and how, and to promote these best and promising practices.
I also consider it important (and I want to emphasise this again) that the regions’ efforts to improve the social sphere should be evaluated by the people. There may be no better way of doing this than canvassing neighbourhoods. It is necessary to create consolidated and integrated ratings of the quality of life in the regions.
I have one more suggestion in this respect. Today, we spoke about promoting young, you might even say, very young entrepreneurs and innovators, steps to support them, including on the part of Russian businesses. I want to say again, this is certainly important. But no less important is where, in which regions young people will be able to bring their plans to fruition. Will they choose to stay in their small homeland and live, work, start families and raise children there?
Of course, when drawing up the quality of life ratings in the regions, I want the Agency to take into account young people’s opinions and what they have to say about the level of education and affordability of housing, the convenience of the urban environment and public spaces, opportunities for starting a business, or creative and technological initiatives. In this regard, the proposal to extend existing experience to the work of municipalities is very important. I fully agree with this proposal.
To reiterate, I suggest testing the mechanisms for assessing the quality of life ratings and the implementation of the National Social Initiative, which we discussed today, in the pilot regions in the coming months. The governors confirmed their willingness to join in this work at today's meeting. I am confident that all governors will participate in this work. We will discuss the first results of introducing new approaches at the end of this year, so that in 2021 we can begin to replicate these practices throughout the country.
Thank you all for the good work. All the best.