The President’s meeting with the envoys marked 10 years since the posts of Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys to the Federal Districts were established.
Mr Medvedev summed up the envoys’ work over this last decade, emphasising that their top priority today is to ensure economic growth and rising living standards.
The presidential executive order creating the posts of presidential plenipotentiary envoys was signed in May 2000. The same order also established seven Federal Districts: the Urals, Far Eastern, Siberian, Northwestern, Central, Volga, and Southern Federal Districts. In January 2010, a presidential order established an eighth Federal District – the North Caucasus Federal District.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, I want to congratulate you all on this occasion, one full decade since the post of presidential plenipotentiary envoy in the modern sense of the term was established. It was on May 13, 2000 that the presidential executive order was signed establishing this post and dividing the country into seven federal districts.
Over these last ten years you and your predecessors have worked hard to help implement presidential powers in the regions and provide support for the programmes our country is carrying out.
The envoys’ efforts have focused above all on carrying out presidential instructions aimed at bringing basic order to the whole situation. This involved putting our very particular laws into order and calling to account for their acts regions that in a number of cases had gone beyond the bounds of the Constitution.
This work was a complete success. In 2000 alone, through the joint efforts of the Presidential Executive Office and presidential plenipotentiary envoys, 3,000 regional laws were brought into line with the Constitution and with federal legislation.
I remember what this work was like. I was working in the Presidential Executive Office at that time. It was not an easy job because it required constant consultations and effort to come up with compromise proposals.
But this work was completed nonetheless, and within quite a short space of time we succeeded in re-establishing a harmonised legal space throughout our country and making federal legislation effective once more in every single region.
This was an extremely important task, because it enabled us to make the country fully manageable and re-establish the normal administrative discipline that had broken down to a great extent, unfortunately, over the preceding period. You and your predecessors all took part in this work that I consider exceptionally important for our country’s future.
Over time, the priorities and goals the president sets the plenipotentiary envoys have changed, of course. But keeping watch on how laws are being enforced and on the laws passed at regional level remain important tasks.
Yes, we have the prosecutors and the courts, but the plenipotentiary envoys are in the thick of things, so to speak. They are not law enforcement officials, but represent the president’s interests and act on his instructions. You have close contact with the regional governors and some of you, who I, as president, appointed, were yourselves successful governors. This makes it easier for you, perhaps, to address the issues that come up. We have a living and very complex federation, and this work needs to continue.
As for your continuing work, it is very clear today that bringing regions together, ensuring full support for and implementation of decisions taken, and monitoring the legislative environment are all still important tasks, but are not the only priorities.
In 2008, together with other countries around the world, we found ourselves facing new difficulties brought on by the global financial crisis. Sadly, this sent our living standards falling. This has inevitably made itself felt in the public mood and the general economic situation. Wage arrears have risen, though this concerns primarily the private sector, because wages are being paid as normal in the public sector.
The joint efforts undertaken by yourselves and the Government succeeded in just one year in bringing down the amount of private sector wage arrears — the wage debts employers owe our citizens — from 8.7 billion rubles to 4 billion.
Four billion is still a lot, but we realise that miracles do not just happen. We need to reinvigorate our economy and address the problems that exist between employers and employees. In some cases we need to help owners to sort out their economic problems, and in some cases we need to be strict in calling them to answer for their failures to meet the responsibilities the law places upon them regarding wage, pension and benefit payments.
This is all quite routine ongoing work, but it is exceptionally important. This was one of the subjects I always discussed during my visits to the regions, one of the matters I always brought up with the governors, and with directors of companies located in the particular regions.
We need to continue our efforts because, although we are now starting to emerge from the crisis, hardships still remain. Our country is very complex and from time to time we find ourselves facing serious and dramatic events that require rapid state intervention, decisions about payments, disaster relief work. The plenipotentiary envoys need to be on the frontline when it comes to such work and take part in these efforts together with the other federal and regional organisations.
We need to look to the future too. We are working now on our economic modernisation and are improving our political system. We are doing this calmly and quietly, but we need to do it conscientiously. The plenipotentiary envoys therefore should involve themselves in all of the events concerning our current agenda and technological development, and should take part in organising work to carry out the presidential priorities, in particular those related to our economy’s technological advancement.
You participate in meetings of presidential commissions and other bodies, take part in various sessions. I hope that you will encourage regional governors and company executives to take an active a part as possible in this modernisation work and help to bring about change in our economy. Encourage them to do this not because they are forced to, but because they believe that this is the only way to keep Russia competitive and thus ensure our prosperity now and in the future.
Nothing is ever permanent. Improvement is only natural and this process concerns our system of state administration, and the decisions I make regarding the plenipotentiary envoys. Given the complicated situation that we face in the Caucasus, I decided to establish an eighth federal district and appoint a presidential plenipotentiary envoy there, giving him the added function of deputy prime minister, what’s more. I say this because in the future it is possible that more decisions aimed at improving the institution of the presidential plenipotentiary envoys could follow.
Overall, I want to thank all of you for your active work. We still have many tasks that require the presidential envoys’ ongoing supervision and regular intervention – reasonable intervention, of course.
We all know that all of our work pursues the ultimate goal of ensuring economic growth and rising living standards. This is our top priority and you need to make it core of your work. This is the task I set you for the future, and I wish you success in this endeavour.