The agenda included municipal service’s human resources potential, the spatial development of municipal entities and the specifics of local self-governments’ work in the integrated public authority system.
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Speech at a meeting of the Council for Local Self-Government Development
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We are holding a meeting of our Council on the eve of Local Self-Government Day. I congratulate you on this holiday, and, of course, I congratulate all employees working in municipal entities of our huge country, in cities, districts, areas and communities.
As they say in such cases, it is impossible to overstate the significance of your work because you are closer to the people than anyone else. In effect, they see you as key representatives of the entire public authority system. People turn to you with their needs and problems before anyone else. They expect you to quickly resolve these issues and to show an attentive and friendly attitude towards their initiatives and requests.
I understand that you face many challenges in your work, and that the required financial resources are not always available. However, when concerned, dedicated, energetic, honest and decent people work at municipal entities, when they show sincere concern for the people, it becomes possible to effectively resolve problems that arise there.
This approach to work is particularly important in the context of supporting the families of service personnel involved in the special military operation. Municipal entities and their employees have a special role to play here. It is necessary to know the needs and requirements of each such family, and I would like to emphasise this aspect. It is important to provide them with real assistance, so that our soldiers do not worry about their children, wives and parents.
All regions set up municipal headquarters during the nationwide mutual assistance campaign We are Together. They facilitate cooperation between local government agencies and volunteer organisations that make a major contribution to supporting service personnel and their families. I would like to thank all those who have become actively involved in this work.
I also know that there are many volunteers among the municipal community; these people have decided to go where the situation is the most difficult. They have shown an example of devotion to the Motherland and its interests, and they are now defending our historical territories, people, the residents of these territories who had fought for many years (I would like to emphasise this) for the right to be together with Russia and to be part of our common world.
For many years, they lived in conditions that differed completely from those in Russia in terms of regional and municipal administration. You should therefore provide all the required assistance to your colleagues in a warm-hearted and caring manner, while integrating the new regions into the single public authority system of Russia.
Colleagues, improving our citizens’ wellbeing and quality of life is the fundamental priority of our joint work. As I have said, people often turn to local self-government bodies when they encounter everyday problems – and it is important for them that their issues be resolved promptly. It does not matter which level of authority is involved, municipal, regional or federal.
I know that active discussion of the new draft law on the general principles of local self-government in the integrated public authority system continues. The Russian Association for the Development of Local Self-Government plays a key role in this discussion.
During the discussion, we identified several priority issues. It is important to conduct an in-depth audit of municipal bodies’ expenditure powers, review the scope of their responsibilities and assess the actual financial resources available for exercising such powers.
It is also important to update the performance indicators of local self-government bodies, create and improve, on their basis, mechanisms to encourage the best leaders at the municipal level, support those who stimulate economic growth, attract investment and create favourable conditions for small and medium-sized businesses, and strengthen the tax base. I know that several regions already have certain positive experience. Of course, there is this positive experience and it could be scaled up to the entire country.
It is very important to maintain a constructive feedback channel with the public. Municipal authorities must be in constant contact with local residents, listen to them carefully, hear their requests and respond to them quickly.
Experience shows that digitalisation improves the quality and value of this feedback. By the way, at the previous meeting of this Council, we spoke about creating regional management centres. Today these centres operate across all regions, receiving positive feedback from the public.
Certainly, this experience should be scaled up to the municipal level. But I want to stress that digitalisation itself will not replace personal contacts or meetings with people. Regular communication with the public is a crucial factor in improving mutual understanding and trust between citizens and local authorities.
It is very important that people are directly involved in the decision-making process. We have many instruments for this. People are actively voting for priority improvement projects within the framework of the project on Creating a Comfortable Urban Environment. People’s interest for participatory budgeting projects is growing. Rural residents can feel the effect of the implementation of the Comprehensive Development of Rural Territories project – at least I hope that many of them do. If this is not enough, and there is always more to be done with such issues, then we must continue working.
Such projects and programmes help attract talented people, create new growth points, unite people, help them with self-fulfilment, promote their initiatives.
To efficiently satisfy people’s requirements, we need good personnel as a solid foundation of local governments, which is another important part of our work. We must ensure a modern comprehensive approach and update key training programmes and standards that are necessary in the sphere of municipal governance. They must be focused on practical matters and meet the demands of the times. For example, training in State and Municipal Governance can be not just a separate specialty but also an addition to sectoral professions.
It is extremely important to make municipal service attractive for young, well educated, modern and enterprising young people. We are working on it. For example, we have launched a GosStart support programme for young civil servants. It includes a system of on-site training aimed at exchanging experience and improving professional competencies. I believe that we should consider additional incentives to attract young people and experts in various fields.
High-quality retraining and advanced training of municipal employees is no less important. This means that it is necessary to meet the need for building leadership and project management skills. For this, the necessary infrastructure has already been created at the federal level, primarily the Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; the Russian Znaniye Society, which we revived several years ago and it functions effectively; and such educational venues as the Senezh Management Workshop and Mashuk Knowledge Centre. Similar organisations should come into being in all regions.
Municipalities have a wealth of experience in addressing difficult tasks, and they can and must share it with colleagues who are ready to introduce it in their territories. As I said in this year’s Address to the Federal Assembly, it is necessary to develop mechanisms of support for ambitious teams and practices.
Let me also note that in dealing with personnel issues it is of great importance to show respect towards the employees who have completed years-long municipal service. They have amassed truly immense and invaluable experience that, of course, should be used in our everyday work.
The existing control and supervisory practice is yet another topic that you have mentioned. We have been engaged in this activity in many areas, and much has been done in this sphere recently. For example, we have streamlined types of control, removed excessive requirements and introduced a moratorium on planned inspections.
At the same time, all of us understand that oversight bodies’ exactingness is often justified, because municipalities support the operations of high-risk organisations and there can and should be no connivance in this area. We are responsible for people’s health and safety.
But I also agree that the control and supervisory bodies, the prosecutors, should expand preventive practices. Their task, of course, is not to punish but to cooperate with municipal employees in eliminating problems and risk areas, or better yet – in preventing those risks and ensuring safety, comfort and high-quality services for people.
Colleagues, it is very important to meet people’s expectations in your challenging everyday work and guarantee an honest, just and considerate approach to each person.
I will be pleased to hear your proposals.
Let us get down to work.