President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
As is traditional, the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects is meeting at the end of the year to review this year’s performance and discuss the details of what has been done to achieve the national goals – as a reminder, those are the main benchmarks for the country's development through to 2030.
I would like to note that, despite the unfavourable epidemiological situation, Russia has never stopped working on its national projects. Moreover, some of the indicators show that the dynamics and intensity have been, if anything, growing. Consider that in 2019, the first year of implementing these projects, cash spending on them was lagging behind – not much, but nevertheless – lagging compared to the execution of the general federal budget, but now these indicators have levelled off.
For reference, as of December 1, 2019, 78 percent of the federal budget was implemented, and spending on national projects accounted for 70 percent of the plan. As of December 1, 2021, 80 percent of spending on both the federal budget and national projects was executed.
Of course, for all the importance of budgetary discipline, using the funds intensively and sticking to the plan is not the only thing that matters – this, as we understand it, is just a tool for attaining the goal, and naturally, it should be made good use of. What matters most – and I will stress this again – are the results that have been achieved, how specific they are, how tangible and visible to people, how they affect the development of Russian regions and all territories across the country.
I am pleased to note that some results have been achieved. There are shortcomings as well – we will talk about them too, but we have seen results. I would like to note that the annual plan for the repair of the road network in urban complexes has been carried out; such conurbations are home to about a half of Russia’s citizens.
Overall, the relocation of people from dilapidated housing is proceeding ahead of schedule. In 10 months of 2021, 120,000 people moved to new modern apartments – as many as over the whole course of the two previous years.
Allow me to remind you that we will launch a new relocation programme very soon, in January 2022, which will embrace buildings that were recognised as dilapidated as of January 1, 2021. The money to finance the programme over the next two years, 45 billion rubles, has been included in the federal budget.
As for preschool education, some 180,000 places have been created at nurseries over the past few years. The queue for places at nurseries throughout the country has been halved, and the problem has been resolved completely in 31 regions. Virtually every family with children under three years can send their kids to a nursery there, if they want to.
However, there are not enough nursery places in several regions, where 73,500 kids are waiting for a place. This is just for your information. It is clear that we will eventually resolve this problem in accordance with our plans.
Free hot meals are provided to over 7 million primary school pupils. This is part of our systemwide efforts to support families with children. At present, targeted state assistance is provided to Russian families with some 7 million children. As I mentioned, our task for the next few years is to create a comprehensive system of assistance for families with children from birth to school graduation.
It should be said that some 800,000 people in difficult circumstances receive support under a social contract. The fight against poverty is a clear priority. We regularly discuss this issue, which is directly connected to our response to the demographic challenge.
Everything is important for increasing people’s incomes, including targeted social support, assistance for families with children, new jobs, which is a key element, balanced development of the regions and economic sectors, as well as improving the affordability and quality of education at all levels, which I have already mentioned.
We will accelerate the construction of new schools. Over the past three years, 271 schools for 177,000 pupils have been built in 78 regions. I would like to remind you that we plan to build another 1,300 schools by the end of 2024. In addition to this, in the next five years we will implement an ambitious programme of capital repairs and technical upgrades at existing schools, which will cover 7,300 buildings.
As for the teaching staff, over 800,000 schoolteachers and 100,000 advisors at vocational and technical schools will receive additional payment for class supervision and guidance. The work of classroom teachers and advisors is extremely important for educating our young people, for their personal and professional development and hence for the future of Russia.
The healthcare infrastructure is being upgraded. Since 2018, 1,750 paramedic centres and outpatient clinics have been put into service. The regions have received over 1,000 mobile medical complexes. As a result, the amount of medical assistance in rural areas has doubled.
Children’s outpatient clinics, oncological and cardio-vascular centres are being refurbished. Over 40,000 units of new medical equipment have been supplied to them under national projects.
I would like to add that over 350 outpatient oncological aid centres have been opened in the regions, while local patients prone to cardio-vascular diseases have been entitled to free medication since last year. This year about 600,000 people receive them.
I would like to add that national projects have produced one more result that is important for enhancing living standards in Russian cities, notably, the improvement of ecological well-being. We have set ourselves the task of eliminating 88 of the most dangerous facilities that have produced cumulative environmental damage by 2024. Sixty facilities of this kind have already been shut down and another six will be removed by the end of the year. Thirty unauthorised dumping sites within city limits have been also shut or recultivated. Another 12 must be removed by the end of the year.
I would like to emphasise that national projects are very important for Russian people. They should help enhance the welfare of Russian families, improve the urban environment, social sphere, and create new opportunities for businesses.
That said, it is very important to hear what people think about the changes brought about by national projects. We know that not everything is as smooth here as we would like it to be, as I said at the beginning of my speech. Unfortunately, problems do not go away.
I will repeat that the goal of every national project is not just to build a certain facility, put it into service or repair. We must learn to make national projects resolve people’s most sensitive issues. This is the main criterion of the effectiveness of our common performance.
The participants need to be involved in national projects, and they need to act responsibly and in earnest on a daily basis at the federal and regional levels. I urge our colleagues to constantly monitor the status of national projects and to analyse bottlenecks or failures to keep up with the schedule in order to be able to make additional decisions based on an objective situation, taking into account arising problems and difficulties.
So, this year, rising prices have become a major challenge in implementing national projects. Prices went up for a wide range of products, including construction materials. Faced with higher prices, governors and regional leaders are increasingly reporting failed competitive bidding, construction delays and problems with contractors.
I am not going to give you reference data regarding higher prices for reinforcement steel, sheet steel, bitumen and so on. You are well aware of them. These risks must be reduced as much as possible, better yet, nullified. The projects and sites planned under national projects must be completed.
I would like to emphasise again that we are talking not about the amounts of allocated or used funds, but about newly built kindergartens, schools and infrastructure facilities, renovated hospitals and paramedic centres, phased-out landfills, and the like.
The Government needs to prepare a clear-cut algorithm for actions regarding the federal and regional facilities under construction. Everyone participating in this work must understand what they need to do, and how this process will be funded.
Also, at one time, we had lively discussions concerning the proportionate participation of the federal and the regional budgets in funding national projects. As a result, specific agreements were reached, and it is important for these agreements to be strictly implemented by all participants in the current difficult circumstances.
This is what I wanted to say at the outset.
Let us get to work. We will then sum up our discussion, draw certain conclusions, and outline the next steps for the next year and in the longer term.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, a few words in conclusion.
First, I want to thank all of you. Yes, we spoke about problems, but overall work is underway in a consistent manner and at a good pace. The decisions and approaches that we discussed today – I just spoke about them in respect to a specific area – are of special importance for our country and our citizens. I am talking about national projects, the main tool for achieving the national development goals. We have done a lot already to implement these plans, and they are quite ambitious. This is obvious.
It is important to reinforce and continue positive trends in the economy, social sphere, in solving environmental problems and improving the quality of life of our citizens in order to reach real, more tangible and substantial results for each family in Russia, and for the country in general.
While implementing national projects, we are addressing complex tasks; there are difficulties and problem areas. Colleagues from the State Council commission, the Council’s working group for National Projects and the Russian Popular Front spoke about them; the chairman of the executive committee just spoke about them. I ask the Government to monitor the problem areas and include them in the agenda for the first half of 2022.
I also suggest we regularly review the implementation of national projects at meetings of the Council for Strategic Development presidium and hold reviews of project documents mostly in the in-person format with an open and detailed discussion.
While summarising the results of our meeting, I would like to go back to several issues.
As for construction. Mr Khusnullin suggested a detailed plan of action that would ensure the implementation of construction plans both at the federal and regional levels. It is crucially important that it covers the budget for the next three years, which means it will provide the necessary planning horizon and predictability for the regions and contractors. I support these initiatives and ask the Government to adopt decisions for their implementation in the near future.
At the same time, I repeat that the Government is directly responsible for the completion of the construction of not only federal, but also regional projects. There is no need to wait and blame our colleagues in the regions for not having finished something or done it at the wrong time. Help them, please. It is necessary to put their facilities into operation as scheduled. This is what we agreed on when we launched the national project.
Also, some colleagues mentioned earlier that the actual co-financing of national projects by the regions differs from the planned arrangements. We all understand that this is caused by higher prices. It is also obvious that the outline of work in each area and the list of objects are not always clearly defined. I ask the Government, together with the State Council commissions, to eliminate this so that all the co-financing agreements get fulfilled.
Now, about modernising primary healthcare. We must not lower the bar that we have set ourselves in terms of modernising healthcare infrastructure. This means that the spending in this area should be adjusted for inflation.
The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on public health around the world. Unfortunately, we are not an exception. In our country, it superimposed on the objective demographic trough. I think the right thing to do in the next two years will be to seriously step up work to strengthen primary healthcare. There is nothing unusual about it – these are our plans, which we have agreed upon long ago.
According to experts, we will shift the main costs involved in solving this problem a little to the left. I understand that many things have been arranged and determined, it is very difficult to do this but please work on this, so as not to wait for future budget periods, and invest already now in the business, in creating and re-equipping healthcare facilities and in building up their capabilities.
At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the issue is about protecting people’s health – we understand very well what this is about. And the level of people’s satisfaction with the quality and availability of medical care is the main integral indicator of our work’s effectiveness, and here we need to achieve the greatest progress. So far, this figure has been quite modest, as you are aware. Nevertheless, I want to end with where I started: work is underway, and the pace is good.
Once again, I thank all the participants in our meeting today and, of course, I wish you and your colleagues success and a happy New Year.
Thank you. All the best.