Taking part in the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Labour and Social Protection Minister Anton Kotyakov, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov and representatives of social institutions and NGOs from various Russian regions.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
You and all of us have a holiday today. Of course, on this occasion I wanted to meet with you and to discuss your work as well as the developments in the area that you are dedicated to, which is traditionally called God’s work here. I mean helping others: this tradition has been passed from generation to generation, throughout Russian history, without exaggeration. It is in our cultural and moral code, as they say.
On June 8, 1701, more than three centuries ago, the social protection system was established at the state level in Russia. Traditionally, this is a day of celebration for social workers – people who have chosen not just a profession but service, in the full sense of the word: to help those in need, those who often cannot survive without help.
Together with employees of state and municipal institutions, non-governmental organisations, representatives of Russia’s traditional religions, and volunteers carry out this noble mission of social protection with dignity and selflessness. They are your and our full-fledged partners, like-minded people. So today is your common holiday. I congratulate all of you, your colleagues and allies, and I just want to say thank you so much for your selfless work. People like you – with great spirit and humanity, immense kindness and sincere generosity enjoy deep respect from entire society.
You take care of children and people with disabilities, the elderly and those seriously ill, assisting them in difficult moments. No matter how hard it is, you are attentive, patient and responsive. And for you, the significance, value of life of those you work with does not depend on age or health. You prove by your deeds that for you, every person matters.
When the dangerous epidemic broke out, many of you showed your best qualities, you did not abandon helpless people but tried to save and protect those depending on you. Maybe it does not always go well, but I am sure that most of you have done your best. My deepest gratitude to you and your colleagues for your courage, civic heroism and your active participation in protecting our citizens from the coronavirus.
Once again: we have been going through severe trials and we have withstood them, because we have not stepped aside from enduring moral standards, such as compassion, mutual assistance and mercy. These values, as I have said, are shaped by our history, they are in the nature of our people. They are shared by the vast majority of our country’s citizens. And it is natural that when discussing amendments to the Constitution, special attention is paid to social justice.
The proposed changes to the Basic Law consolidate state guarantees of targeted social support. Mandatory indexation of pensions and benefits at least once a year. At the same time, the minimum wage, which serves as the basis for calculating many other payments, cannot be lower than the subsistence level. These are all directly application norms that should work for years to come, so that people are confident in the future, that those in need of help are surrounded by special care and attention, and receive necessary and adequate support.
No breakthrough technologies can replace humans in a sphere like social protection. Let me repeat: everything is based on people, kindness and humanity here. We understand and appreciate it. We will always help you with your mission.
During the epidemic, a number of decisions were made to provide extra support to specialists working in the area of social protection as well as to volunteers who were actively involved in countering the coronavirus. Additional payments are envisaged for the employees of social institutions for three months, from mid-April to mid-July. Let me repeat, these are for every two-week-long shift, and also include an increased bonus for working in especially difficult conditions, in direct contact with those infected.
Social workers, volunteers and ordinary people in our cities and villages took people with disabilities, elderly people and orphans into their homes during the epidemic. There is also a bonus for those who acted with such kindness: a minimum wage of 12,130 rubles for the period from April 1 to June 30, 2020.
We have extended a number of benefits and incentives available to small and medium-sized businesses in the affected sectors to the socially-oriented NGOs.
Moreover, I suggested that three billion rubles should be allocated from the Presidential Reserve Fund to implement a special support programme. This money should be distributed as part of the Presidential Grants Fund’s contest, which will be launched on June 16.
Let me repeat that these decisions have already been made and instructions given. Today I would like to hear from you, friends, on how they are implemented and how accessible and timely this support is.
Moreover, I would also like to announce new additional measures.
In line with my instructions, the Government has developed amendments to the Tax Code and submitted them to the parliament. I signed this document today. What does it offer?
First, all benefits for working in special conditions during the coronavirus epidemic will be exempt from personal income tax. Obviously, this applies directly to social and medical workers as well as people who take on orphans, people with disabilities or elderly people for assisted living. It means that all the payments due will be paid in full, without tax deductions.
Second, as I have said, well-established NGOs, such as those that received grants from the President, ministries, agencies and regional officials, as well as NGOs that are involved in socially beneficial activity or provide social services, will be fully exempt from insurance payments and taxes except for VAT, in the second quarter. This support measure will also apply to the organisations representing conventional religions in Russia.
Third, donations by businesses to such NGOs and religious associations worth up to one percent of their [businesses’] proceeds may be classified as extraordinary expenses. Therefore, donations will not be included when calculating taxes payable by entrepreneurs to the state.
I would like to emphasise that we understand the possible risks of so-called tax optimisation schemes. Still, I am convinced that we need to operate without constantly looking over our shoulders and thinking that dishonest people might abuse these benefits. We must support law-abiding and honest citizens who are in the majority.
We have decided to take this step because during the epidemic, Russia’s business community demonstrated its responsibility, honesty and decency. Entrepreneurs provided help to doctors and volunteers and helped local government bodies.
Our entire civil society demonstrated the same maturity and ability to act in unison, as one team, in response to a difficult challenge.
This trust between the state, businesses and the non-profit sector that was tested and became stronger through challenges must form the basis for our further development, for solving long-term economic and social problems and for improving our people’s welfare.
Let’s discuss the proposed issues. There must be plenty of them.
Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues,
Once again I congratulate you on Social Worker’s Day.
As I said in my opening remarks, you are not just doing a job but you are fulfilling a life mission. And by helping people, which is very important for everyone, you are giving your heart and soul; you are also helping society, because thanks to your work our society becomes kinder and gentler where necessary; it becomes more compassionate. It becomes more civilised, which means more effective, capable, with more development prospects. This is what lies at the heart of our society and at the foundation of our state. And the latest coronavirus-related developments and the way people responded to other people’s pain in these very difficult conditions shows how hard you have worked in the last few years.
In recent years, we have tried to draw society’s attention to your activities. Perhaps we have not done enough but we still try to support you in your efforts to help others. I think all of this has resulted in the fact that we have manage to overcome our coronavirus-related trials. I am sure we will get through this, thanks to you and people like you, among other thigs.
I congratulate you on your holiday and wish you all the best.