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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues
As you know, over the course of last year we drew up a full-fledged action strategy for Russia’s development. The relevant executive orders setting the main economic and social development goals, priorities, specific tasks, targets to meet, and deadlines were signed in May, and their implementation is under constant watch.
The special commission met a few days ago to analyse the situation and examine the overall state of affairs nationwide. Today we will discuss in detail the situation in the specific federal districts. Let me stress that we cannot simply monitor the situation. All of you should get actively involved in the day-to-day work on implementing the executive orders.
The regions can raise public sector wages gradually over the period through to 2018, but we cannot allow big differences in the amounts of funding and their timetables.
The funds allocated for carrying out the work vary considerably from one region to another. The differences are big. In the Northwest Federal District, to give just one example, Arkhangelsk Region has earmarked 0.09 percent of its overall regional budget for this work, while the funding in Pskov Region comes to 17.2 percent of the budget – the highest figure in this particular federal district.
It is worrying that some regions plan only to index public sector wages to the inflation rate. The Republic of Adygeya and Volgograd Region, for example, plan a 5.5-percent public sector wage rise as from October 1, 2013. One could assume that these regions have met their targets and from here will simply keep wages indexed in line with the inflation rate the government forecasts. I am not sure, however, that all of the regions really have properly and fully met the targets, and so I ask you to give this kind of matter your particular attention.
Certainly, the regions can raise public sector wages gradually over the period through to 2018, but we cannot allow big differences in the amounts of funding and their timetables. We cannot accept a situation in which teachers in neighbouring regions earn completely different wages, and I am talking not of a few percentage points, but of several-fold differences. There is nothing unusual in differences between wages in the Far East or the Far North say, and the central Russian regions. After all, the living standards and cost of living are clearly different there. People earn more in the Far North – not as much as we would all like – but more than in the central regions. But it is unacceptable and unfair when wages differ dramatically in regions right next to each other.
I propose that we also discuss today a number of top priority social issues, including assistance for orphaned children and children not under the guardianship of their parents. You already know that the Government has been given additional instructions in this regard, and you know that I signed the respective executive order at the end of 2012. I expect active work from you in this area.
It is important that we know the situation in children’s homes. We must know the obstacles that people wanting to adopt children face, know what kind of barriers they have to get through. Of course, we should improve the current legislative base in this area. The priority is to protect children’s interests.
It is important that we know the situation in children’s homes and that we work together with the regions to help the institutions that need support. We are to know what is happening with the children and ensure they get proper follow-up. We must know the obstacles that people wanting to adopt children face, know what kind of barriers they have to get through, or what kind of arbitrariness they encounter from officials who prevent proper decisions from being made. Of course, we should improve the current legislative base in this area and remove these obstacles. I stress that we cannot allow a formalistic approach here. The priority is to protect children’s interests.
Another important issue I want to raise today is that of strengthening interethnic and interfaith harmony. You are all well aware that we must work constantly on maintaining interethnic harmony. The events of recent years show that religious radicals of all colours and faiths have become increasingly active. You know too, that members of the Islamic clergy have been murdered or had attempts made on their lives. Essentially, a terrorist war has been unleashed against followers of traditional Islam. We see the brazen attempts to intimidate them and prevent them from contact with the faithful. Instead, false truths that have nothing to do with traditional Islam are being imposed on people.
As far as the intimidation attempts go, I am sure that those behind them will fail completely in their designs, because the clergy do not simply do a job, but serve the Almighty, serve God and the people, and it is not possible to intimidate such people. Clearly though, they need our help and support, and we must ensure that this help and support are effective.
I remind you that we approved the National Policy Strategy last December. The document covers the period through to 2025 and will involve hard and difficult work. We can carry it out successfully only if we have good coordination between the federal and regional authorities. The plenipotentiary envoys have a big part to play in this work. It is essential to study thoroughly the local situation, identify people’s real concerns, and propose specific solutions.
Let’s now start discussing these issues and begin our work.