During the meeting on enhancing the efficiency of social support measures for certain categories of citizens, the participants also reviewed a number of current issues.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova reported on the progress of the coronavirus vaccination campaign and discussions on introducing “coronavirus passports.”
Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov spoke about the measures taken to increase employment to the pre-pandemic level.
Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov reported on systemic support measures for the national industries.
The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, deputy prime ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Alexander Novak, Alexei Overchuk, Marat Khusnullin and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin and Governor of the Novgorod Region Andrei Nikitin.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Let’s get down to work. Mr Mishustin and I have already started, therefore … We will continue after our meeting.
We have several matters that we planned to discuss. However, I suggest starting with the most topical matters. First, I would like to ask Ms Golikova how vaccination is proceeding.
Mass vaccination was launched on January 18, 2021, and we have some ambitious plans here. Minister [of Industry and Trade Denis] Manturov has told me that the industry is producing even more preparations than had been planned. As I have said, our plans are ambitious. We have vaccinated almost 70 million people against the flu during the current vaccination campaign. Anna Popova has told me yesterday that the number totals 68 million. We should also attain similar figures in dealing with the coronavirus infection.
(Addressing Tatyana Golikova.) What is the situation like now?
Ms Golikova, you have the floor, please.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Thank you, Mr President.
Good afternoon, colleagues.
As you have just said, Mr President, it has been almost two weeks since you gave the instruction to launch a broad vaccination campaign across the Russian Federation. The goal of broad vaccination is to achieve what is known as herd immunity, and according to our researchers, we need to achieve herd immunity for 60 percent of the population – that excludes young people under 18 and those who have had the coronavirus infection, that is, in fact, the number of people immune to COVID-19 will be higher. You have cited the flu statistics – 68 million people, and for the coronavirus, it should be about the same, if we exclude those who have not had the infection – 68.6 million people.
In accordance with Russian law, vaccination in Russia is free and voluntary.
We certainly know that some shortcomings can be expected when it comes to such a large-scale and urgent project, so we have organised our work in such a way as to monitor the entire process from vaccine production, through estimation of demand and the actual vaccinations to people’s feedback on the organisation of the process. We are monitoring each stage; we can see each region’s data change almost in real time. This way we can plan the process and adjust management decisions.
Now a few words about where we are today.
As you know, large-scale production of the Sputnik V vaccine has begun. Manufacture of EpiVacCorona has also started and will be scaled up by the end of February 2021. The Chumakov Centre has sent its CoviVac vaccine to the Healthcare Ministry for registration; we expect registration to be completed in mid-February, and the first batch of the vaccine to be rolled out at the end of March 2021.
The plan is to have about 17 million doses available for broad vaccination in the first quarter. We monitor each of the production facilities daily to see a complete picture of production volumes; we receive information from each manufacturer. A total of 8.2 million doses have been produced as of this morning. Almost 2.7 million doses have been delivered to medical centres.
I would like to say that we are operating on a just-in-time basis. The difference between the production volumes and the available doses for vaccination arises from the need to go through safety and quality control procedures in accordance with current legislation.
Vaccine appointments can be made on the integrated public services website. It is running in test mode, but on January 31, the full version will be launched Our goal is to build a user-friendly service for people based on the public services website.
I would also like to report that the number of vaccination centres is growing daily. When you gave us the instruction, there were slightly over 1,300 of them. Today there are 3,098 centres, and over the last 24 hours, 122 opened, because we are increasing the supply of vaccines in the regions.
(Tatyana Golikova went on to speak about the vaccination campaign in the regions, the operation of the public services website, volunteers’ work at call centres and medical institutions.)
Another topic I would like to briefly discuss is COVID passports. I would like to say that, according to the Russian law on immunization against infectious illnesses, today there is a single document – a vaccination certificate – that exists, and it does not matter what vaccination is in question. This type of certificate has now been approved by the Healthcare Ministry and is issued at vaccination centres. And, of course, the public services website can automatically create a QR code, and inform people about vaccination and other services provided on the website.
Moreover, I would like to note that at the moment, the WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee does not recommend introducing requirements to prove vaccination or immunity for international trips.
This is why we have already noted that, and I would like to repeat, especially for heads of regions, that it is not viable and even harmful to introduce any new documents in addition to those specified by current legislation, such as certificates. Introducing additional ‘passports’ or any other documents, as we can see, makes people angry, and in this case, they begin to regard vaccination as a mandatory process. Today this is unacceptable.
At the same time, I would like to add that the WHO has begun work on developing requirements for an international digital vaccination certificate. The WHO’s first recommendations are expected to come out at the end of the first quarter of 2021. The WHO has invited Russia to take an active part in this work, and, of course, our colleagues are going to participate.
Mr President, the goal you have set for us is serious, complex and very ambitious. We have certainly solved this kind of problems recently, but this is the first time we have to work on such a tight schedule, including the development of vaccines and scaling up production. But taking into account the experience that we have gained with the regions, at the interdepartmental level, I think that we can solve it, and we will cope with it. And my colleagues and I are working on this on a daily basis.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, colleagues,
The objective data we have suggests that the actions we are taking to counter the spread of the COVID infection are consistent with the level of threat it poses to our citizens, and it is generally yielding positive results.
The pandemic is indeed gradually receding. The number of cases is decreasing; the number of people who have recovered, thank God, has steadily exceeded the number of new infections of late. In terms of the overall mortality rate, the situation is satisfactory, if things like that can be ‘satisfactory’ at all, but still, compared with other countries, this is true. We have about 12 cases per 100,000 people, and this is about one-fourth of the level in many European countries.
But, while we are at it, I would like to emphasise that it is too early to relax. When I meet with the regional leaders, I keep reiterating the need to observe all precautions and sanitary doctors’ requirements, to have reserves of COVID beds in hospitals and all the necessary means to fight the coronavirus, including personal protective equipment and medication. The same goes for transport.
We must act very carefully, helping people, and helping the economy. In this regard, I now have a couple of questions for Anton Kotyakov (we recently discussed the situation with employment at one of the meetings), and to Yury Borisov (on measures to support the economy). But these are special subjects, while in general, as far as our pandemic response effort is concerned, I would ask you, as before, to work in a coordinated manner both at the federal and regional levels, matching our actions with the level of threat that persist today.
My next question is for Mr Kotyakov. At one of our previous meetings, we discussed additional measures we might take to support the labour market.
Mr Kotyakov, please, what do you think about this?
Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov: Thank you.
Mr President, colleagues,
In general, the situation on the labour market is gradually stabilising. According to Rosstat’s preliminary data, the unemployment rate continued to decline in December and constituted 5.9 percent. As you may be aware, unemployment peaked at 6.4 percent in August 2020. During this period, the unemployment numbers went from 4.8 million to 4.4 million people in absolute terms.
The employment centre has also noted a decrease in the number of officially registered unemployed which now stands at about 2.56 million. Again, this indicator was at its highest level, over 3.7 million, in September.
We believe that relaxed restrictions and organisations adapting to the changing pandemic situation were behind the decrease in the number of unemployed. It is also the result of the financial support provided during the spread of the coronavirus infection. As you may recall, it included easy-term loans, reduced insurance premiums for small and medium-sized businesses, and tax holidays for affected industries. Of course, the measures already taken to promote employment help bring down the number of unemployed. In particular, I am referring to the successful placement of reskilled employees.
Mr President, in accordance with your instruction, our goal is to have the employment numbers recover to their pre-pandemic levels by late 2021. To do this, we need to place at least another million citizens in jobs.
Currently, each region has an employment passport and an unemployed person’s profile. We clearly understand the specifics of each regional labour market, and we see a detailed snapshot of the unemployment structure, including the number of graduates, young professionals, people without higher education, and so on. So, each region now has a specific targeted programme for restoring employment based on territorial specifics.
In general, almost 21 billion rubles have been earmarked for employment recovery under local programmes in all Russian regions. Currently, we regard the federal employment promotion programmes as supplementary instruments for reducing labour market tension.
And the programmes, such as the social contract, for example, are also aimed at labour market recovery. To remind you, the social contract involves a comprehensive solution to job-finding issues for low-income people. Over 60,000 people will receive such assistance. This includes an internship and employment for disadvantaged applicants and so forth.
In addition, the Demography national project already provides for retraining at the federal level. At least 115,000 people can also learn the professions and skills in demand on the regional market.
We consulted the regions, experts and the business community: the adopted programmes will greatly impact employment market recovery. To this end – to reach the pre-pandemic figures – we suggest expanding the retraining programme that has already been adopted and introducing new measures on subsidising employment.
As I have already said, the personnel training programme has now been established at the regional and federal levels, but the demand for such activities is very high. People without vocational training are having the most trouble finding a job today, that is 60 percent of those who lost their jobs as of the end of 2020 had neither higher nor secondary vocational training. These are people who as a rule were doing odd-jobs or worked in the services sector. Such people find it hard to adapt to the changing situation on the labour market on their own, and they do not have the opportunity to get supplementary training using own resources.
This is why we are proposing additional retraining measures. The programme will be developed strictly according to labour market demand, that is with respect to the currently available and potential vacancies. This programme will let us additionally train 54,000 people.
As for hiring subsidies, this is a tailored measure. It is highly anticipated by the business community and the regions. We are proposing allocating a subsidy worth three minimum wages to the employer to hire those registered at employment centres before January 1, 2021. The company will receive the first payment in the amount of the minimum wage a month after the unemployed person is hired, the second minimum wage in three months, and the third – in another three months.
The employment centres’ priority task is to help the most vulnerable groups become part of this programme: women with small children, disabled people, and graduates.
Such subsidies will help companies support the new employees after a long break from work. This money can be spent on equipping new work places, covering the cost of training, as well as other expenses. The programme will make it possible to employ over 220,000 Russian citizens, and we believe that it will become one of the most significant direct federal support measures.
Why is it so important to launch it right now, Mr President? Because we see that the restrictions are gradually being lifted, the services sector, due to its traditional seasonal fluctuations in employment, is beginning to slowly recover, and this programme will allow for a faster recovery of employment and the creation of additional jobs.
We have discussed this programme with our colleagues, and it has received our common support. I am asking you to support us too, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, fine.
Today we will get to social issues once again. But first I would like to ask Mr Borisov to elaborate on the additional rules introduced at the beginning of this year to support local producers. I am talking about changes in the contract system and procurement by state-owned companies, the purpose of which is to establish a share or quota for domestic producers in our domestic market; the volume of this market was estimated at about 30 trillion rubles last year.
Please, Mr Borisov.
Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov: Thank you, Mr President.
Mr President, as you are aware, mandatory minimum amounts of Russian-made goods and services, or quotas, have been introduced for government and corporate purchases this year.
What does this look like in terms of pricing? The domestic market’s capacity for goods and services that are traded under Federal Law No. 44 and Federal Law No. 223 amounted to 30 trillion rubles in 2020, as you said. Goods, without services, accounted for 8.5 trillion rubles, of which Russian-made goods are no more than a third, and the rest are imports. We hope that the quotas will break the established purchasing approaches, which are not always fair, from foreign suppliers and help Russian manufacturers expand and consolidate their presence in the domestic market.
This measure is particularly important at a time of demand crisis and constant sanctions pressure. At the same time, it is critical to prevent disruptions in supplies of domestic products. The transition to the new procurement rules must be as comfortable for consumers and manufacturers as possible. So, the quotas for Russian-made products for 2021 are set at the level of their actual procurement in 2020 with the prospect for subsequent increases in 2022–2023. For example, the share of purchased radio-electronic domestic products should be at least 45 percent, agricultural and road-building equipment 85 percent, X-ray machines and CT scanners anywhere from 30 to 80 percent, communications equipment from 50 to 90 percent.
Importantly, I want you to know the following: given their social importance, we intentionally did not establish quotas for medications.
We will monitor quota compliance using automated control via the Treasury’s unified information system. This will allow us, during the 2021 procurement cycle, to evaluate and, if need be, adjust quotas for each group of goods. Thus, quotas will always be a living and flexible tool for the Government.
Thanks to the Treasury’s automated system, we will monitor the government and corporate procurement process. In addition, to get an idea of how the quota mechanism operates in practice, we have set up a series of meetings with the governors, and held meetings and consultations with CEOs of major Russian companies.
Mr President, despite the fact that the new rules came into force only on January 1 of this year, I can cite a few figures that already indicate positive dynamics since the moment you signed the law on July 1, 2020.
Based on the value of goods supplied, the share of domestic products in public procurement increased from 49 percent in 2019 to 57 percent in 2020. In monetary terms, this is up 300 billion rubles: from 1.4 trillion to 1.7 trillion rubles. We hope that the share of Russian goods and services in public procurement will grow by at least seven percent, when the law on quotas comes into force this year.
As for corporate purchasing, unfortunately, we do not have indicative statistics yet, because customers have only been obligated to enter the country of origin of goods into the unified information system since January 1, 2021.
In addition, systemic measures to support the industry are still in effect. In particular, domestic goods are always given priority in state procurement by means of bans and restrictions on imports, these are the so-called “second one out” and “third one out” rules and price preferences. Corporate purchases are monitored by the government commission on import substitution, which coordinates purchasing by state-owned companies abroad. State support is provided to industrial parks, clusters and technology parks. Various subsidies and soft loans are made available to industrial enterprises through banks and the Industrial Development Fund. Exports receive various state support. The mechanism of special investment contracts has been upgraded.
Finally, I would like to note that the measures taken by you, Mr President, to provide emergency support to the industries most affected by the consequences of the pandemic – the automotive industry and the aviation industry – have prevented a dramatic drop in production and saved jobs.
Thanks to state guarantees, subsidies and leasing, we have managed to keep production volumes in the aviation industry at the level of 2019, fully retain the use of production facilities, update equipment, and most importantly, preserve the industry’s workforce.
The automotive industry was hit harder. Sales of new passenger cars in Russia fell by 9 percent in 2020, but this figure is significantly lower than the European average, where it is 20 to 30 percent. At the same time, sales of KamAZ vehicles increased by an average of 10 percent last year. Preferential car loans, leasing, subsidies for gas-powered vehicles and purchases of special vehicles from the reserve fund, including ambulances, school buses and paramedic cars, helped the industry to stay afloat. More than 17 billion rubles were allocated for special vehicles.
We have been meeting with the governors in the federal districts since December and have already held a meeting with the Northwestern and Siberian federal districts. On the whole, they show that a substantial decline in the regional industrial production indexes has been avoided as well.
The processing industry is beginning to recover. Last December it grew by 4 percent over the same month in 2019.
Mr President, we intend to continue implementing the afore-mentioned approaches to supporting Russian industry, which you have approved.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Borisov, at what level of local content a product is considered domestic?
Yury Borisov: There is no universal rule in this respect. This issue is regulated by the Government resolution No.719. Naturally, it is impossible to establish the same rules on different groups of commodities. But resolution No. 719 provides for increasing local content every year. You know the example of the car industry well.
Vladimir Putin: I ask this question with a reason because during the Davos forum yesterday I had a fairly large meeting with representatives of foreign companies, including those that are active in the Russian market. Everyone is well aware of what we are doing. In fact, this is in the interests of our national economy. We are seeking an increase of local content from the investors that are coming to our market. We are supporting them and, incidentally, even let them make state purchases, and offer them financial support. Some support measures are truly unprecedented – in European countries, the state does nothing of the kind in this respect.
I understand that a uniform approach is not possible in this respect. Nevertheless, all these rules must at least be transparent and clear to all our partners. This is very important. This is the first point.
There are also second and third points. We realise that our manufacturers have received big advantages since January 1, 2021. At the same time, there are some threats as well. We must monitor quality and prices to ensure competition in the domestic market. I would like to ask you to pay special attention to these things and to constantly monitor them.
Yury Borisov: We are sensitive to these issues, and we are working on proposals for this. We will fine dishonest suppliers that agree to a commitment but then not abide by it. We will put them on black lists, thus depriving them of support at subsequent stages.
Vladimir Putin: Criteria for local content share must be understandable. This is also a very important issue. You can state 70 or 75 percent but in reality it will not reach even 20 percent. So, this is also one of the aspects that I would like to ask you to follow up on.
All right, thank you very much.