The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, deputy prime ministers Yury Borisov, Tatyana Golikova, Alexander Novak, Alexei Overchuk, Marat Khusnullin, 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, Aide to the President Maxim Oreshkin, Aide to the President – Head of the Presidential Control Directorate Dmitry Shalkov, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov, Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov, Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Fayzullin, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin, Governor of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, and Head of the Russian Popular Front Executive Committee Mikhail Kuznetsov.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
As you know, on April 21, I will deliver the annual Address to the Federal Assembly. Together with some of our colleagues, including Mr Mishustin, his deputies, several ministers and the Presidential Executive Office, we are already working on this document.
This document traditionally outlines strategic guidelines for our country’s socioeconomic development, and priority tasks that require a concerted effort on the part of federal government bodies and regional and local governance teams.
I should stress that it is the systemic approach and consistency of our goals that are important, along with continuous fine-tuning of the mechanisms and tools which are at our disposal and which we create together for our joint work.
Today I suggest discussing the practical results of implementing the Presidential addresses to the Federal Assembly of the past two years, and trying to draw a line, to analyse how the instructions given on the basis of those addresses are being carried out.
I would like to remind you that we are speaking here about such important and significant initiatives such as support for Russian families, including new benefits for children under the age of three and under seven, and increasing the affordability of housing through special mortgage programmes for families with children.
Furthermore, new decisions were also made on the digitalisation of healthcare, on the provision of subsidised medicines (this highly sensitive and painful topic makes its way onto our agenda from year to year); an instruction was given to connect Russian schools to high-speed internet and to provide free access to domestic electronic services.
Finally, measures were proposed to stimulate business and investment activities. I am referring to the reform of the control and supervision activities that we started and the initiative to clear the Russian legislation from outdated norms and requirements in many sectors.
In these fields, specific targets were set by Presidential addresses of the previous years, and first of all, I would like to discuss how their implementation is progressing, and I would like to draw your attention to the following.
First of all, we need to assess what qualitative changes in people's lives our work has entailed; what effect it has had on the development of regions, cities, and districts, and for the economy and the social sphere.
I think I have no need to explain why this is important. If an initiative enjoys popular support and yields tangible results for citizens, for businesses, and for the Russian regions, we need to think about extending and expanding it, consider ways to augment its scale and coverage.
For example, as was the case with the extension of the maternity capital programme – families now become eligible for this benefit at the birth of their first child, and the amount of maternity capital has been significantly increased.
If our practice, life itself shows that the effect from the suggested decisions is limited, let us adjust what we have been doing until now and make our mechanisms more precise and more targeted; let us increase the efficiency of the measures we are taking and the funds we are investing in resolving various tasks.
The second point is this. We must acknowledge honestly and bluntly what we have failed to achieve so far, where our efforts are still stalled and where we continue to face difficulties. I am referring to the rates at which some regions are creating places in nurseries (this is just an example), the start of payments to reimburse the regions for investment deductions, support for individual housing construction, and the trials of promising technology in the so-called “digital sandboxes” with experimental legal rules and regulations.
Taking into account the objective picture, we must adjust the actions that are not effective enough or suggest a different, more effective solution to a problem. This is exactly what our people, citizens of Russia expect from us.
Let me repeat that our work must be systematic and consistent. We must always analyse the reasons behind mishaps and even failures to prevent them in the future both in planning and in resolving our tasks.
I hope to hear today detailed reports by Government members, including deputy prime ministers, on implementing these addresses. I would like you to focus on the social and investment areas, as well as on the development of the digital technology and the housing market. These topics remain very important and sensitive for our people up to this very day.
I would like to emphasise again that this detailed analysis of the work done is a very important stage in preparing this year’s Address. This is so because without a serious analysis of what we have done to resolve the tasks facing the country and how we will certainly be unable to plan properly what we must do in the near future and in a more remote perspective.
Let us get down to work.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
Of course, this work is ongoing, it is being conducted and is not useless. On the contrary, it is generally positive and even productive in some areas.
At the same time, and you know this well yourselves since we are discussing it during current events, that there are problems with it. Many of you have mentioned this yourselves, and you were straight about it, but I will still talk about a number of issues that I think were not mentioned here, and I will also repeat some things.
Well, let’s start with social issues. Indeed, as for creating more places in nurseries, some funds were diverted from this plan – up to 10 percent, I think – due to COVID-19 and the efforts to counter this wretched virus. So, we took some of this money for other things, but not too much, just 10 percent.
We planned to build new capacity for 190,000 places but built 155,400 – indeed, the difference does not seem too big. However, according to the Ministry of Education, at this point the queue for kindergartens has been eliminated in 28 regions. This is not yet the case in other regions but general availability is high – 92.1 percent and must reach 98.4 percent by the end of the year.
In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the procedures and the costs. Yes, the programme was missing 10 percent from the federal budget for this purpose but if the funds had been spent efficiently, I think the entire programme would have been carried out.
Look here: one place in a nursery, the minimal one amounts to 835,400 rubles. This is in the Volgograd Region. Meanwhile, in the Udmurt Republic the figure is 1.577 million. Look here, where is Volgograd and where is Udmurtia? These regions are not far from each other. I would say they are very close to each other, so it is strange that there is such a difference.
We need to look at this in detail; I will ask the Government to focus on this and take special control of the rates at which the regions are putting into operation additional places in kindergartens, the order of these procedures and the costs. Many regions hold tenders with just one participant; this could explain cost disparity. Please, look into this issue more carefully and in more detail.
There are other problems concerning primary healthcare and sanitary services. The plan was to provide, by the end of 2020, all localities with a population of 100 to 2,000 people with access to primary healthcare by opening new and replacing unfit for use rural medical assistance centres, paramedic centres, outpatient clinics, and mobile medical units.
As of January 10, about 20 percent of primary healthcare facilities had not been completed on time; 23 regions of the Russian Federation have not completed the implementation of this programme. The purchase of mobile medical units has not been completed either: 985 were delivered in 2019–2020, while the plan was for 1,000. The difference might seem small, but it is there, and this is about people, it affects their lives, and access to medical care.
The plan to provide medical workers in rural areas and small towns with service housing has not been implemented. We need to enhance support measures that involve building family-type residential hotels using preferential ‘rural’ mortgages, and other such measures. We should focus more on this, because the level and quality of medical care in rural areas and in small towns depends on it, so I am asking you to pay special attention to this.
Ms Golikova mentioned the newly-created fund, The Circle of Kindness. This is indeed a very sensitive issue. We plan to allocate 60 billion this year by increasing the tax burden on certain segments of the population. But, as far as I understand, 10 billion has already been allocated, and of course, we need to ensure the implementation of all these plans. As far as I understand, they have collected applications for 983 children.
Ms Golikova, please make sure the relevant government and regional agencies complete all the plans with due diligence and in a timely manner, and that the amount of funds that we have earmarked actually reaches this fund.
Next, we have – or we are creating – the Federal Register of persons entitled to subsidised medicines, medical devices and specialised medical nutrition. This project has to be carried through, and this register needs to really start working – not formally, but in real life. The expected time frame is by the end of the year, and I am asking you to keep this under control and see that it is not delayed.
Now about investment activities. Mr Belousov said it was necessary to introduce certain requirements for the regions to implement our plans on investment tax deduction, or to be more precise, on reimbursing this tax deduction. Yes, this is the way to go. You told me about this, I remember and I agree with your proposals. They are correct. I would just ask you not to expect the regions to do everything – it is necessary to help them do this, to fulfil the requirements of the Government, or else it will simply be hanging in the air and that will be it. Obviously, you understand this. It is necessary to support them, let us put it delicately.
Now about the law on protecting and encouraging investment in the Russian Federation and on creating certain conditions under which our companies will join the work under the law. In accordance with this law, from April 2, 2021, agreements must be concluded in the e-format with the use of the Capital Investment state system. However, our companies have not yet switched to this format and this platform but, of course, it is necessary to see this through to the end.
Now about the connection of general education institutions to high-speed internet. I think, judging by what we have already done, it is quite possible to complete this task by the end of 2021. Over 10,700 schools are waiting to be connected. In all, 15,600 have already been switched to high-speed internet. So it is fairly possible to complete this work by the end of the year.
I would like to draw your attention to one point. There are few schools – just 1.2 percent – that have no internet connection at all. This is what I want to emphasise and I want to involve you in this work: 22 percent of schools pay twice the national average for an internet connection, while six percent of schools pay three times the average in Russia. It is necessary to figure this out and put things in order. I would like to ask you to do this as soon as possible. Clearly, there may be some objective reasons for this difference but if so, we must help the regions, and provide them with some support in this context.
With regard to the mechanism for using experimental legal regimes when developing and introducing innovative technology, there are issues stemming from entry into force of the Law On Experimental Legal Regimes in the Sphere of Digital Innovation dated January 28, 2021. Industry-specific legislation must also be amended, and I want the Government and the State Duma to focus on this and complete this work during the spring session, otherwise it will drag out until the end of the year.
Now, about providing users with access to free domestic socially significant online services. Unfortunately, it has not been legally formalised that these services be offered by carrier operators free of charge. This also must be done by the State Duma and also during the spring session, otherwise it will get pushed back to the end of the year.
Another issue is processing of personal data. I will not go deep into this subject now, but it is sensitive. The Government keeps working on it, and this effort must be seen through to the end. Please do so as soon as possible as well.
Now, let’s move on to such sensitive issue as housing policy. Indeed, lower mortgage interest rates, a little over 6 percent, have played a significant role. Mr Khusnullin mentioned a trillion-plus rubles that were immediately made available as mortgage loans, and it worked. However, you yourself pointed it out – we have a continuing discussion about this at our meetings – there is a problem with rising prices.
This is not just a price hike, but a major increase. On average, prices in Russia increased by 12 percent, but the largest increases were seen in North Ossetia, where prices grew by 30 percent, the Orel Region 19.7 percent, Adygea 19.3 percent, the Amur Region 18.6 percent and the Ryazan Region 17.6 percent. It’s understandable when we see prices in the Far East shoot up – I won’t explain, you know it all yourselves. But why is this happening in European Russia? Up 30 percent, up 20 percent up… Mr Khusnullin has a point, and we covered this as well. It is imperative to create additional supply primarily in the housing construction market. We need to look at this problem from the perspective of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and see what is going on there.
Overall, I would like to thank you for what has been done under the previous addresses, and I very much count on your help and support during the final stage of preparations for this year's Address to the Federal Assembly.
Thank you very much. All the best.