The meeting participants discussed the dynamics and indicators of the national projects’ implementation and their financing. In particular, they focused on the results of the national projects in the social sphere, transport infrastructure, the digital economy and industry.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today, at this meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects with Government ministers, governors and heads of agencies and business organisations, we will discuss how our plans are being implemented, which goals and limits we have achieved and where we have problems.
I would like to begin by saying that the development of the economy, infrastructure, demography, healthcare, environment and culture are, of course, the most important areas.
National projects are a unique tool, as we all know and understand. There has never been anything like this before to achieve the goals in the spheres I have listed.
Even the fact that these projects have been launched means that Russia’s capabilities have grown significantly, and that we are addressing tasks at a completely different level. We must, and what is most important, we can do it.
Preparations for this work began in the middle of last year. We put in place a legislative and methodological base and launched the mechanisms of cooperation between government agencies, businesses and the people. A lot of effort and time has been put into this.
Today, at the end of the year, the first results of the national projects’ implementation can be summed up. We certainly have results. About a million Russian families with children received support under the so-called demographic package of measures – these are payments for the first and second children, soft mortgage loans and mortgage subsidies for large families.
An ambitious nursery programme is being implemented. We are doing our best to solve this important and sensitive problem for families, for young mothers. Over two years, almost 54,000 additional places were created in nurseries, and the remaining deficit will be completely eliminated by 2021. But let me remind you that as of December 1, 2019, the nursery waiting list included 194,210 people. When the programme was launched on January 1, 2018, the figure was 272,255 people.
Over 2,000 schools received high-tech equipment for educational programmes for digital and humanitarian areas this year. The transition to a new promising model of network school education has begun, when teaching is carried out using the infrastructure of universities, businesses and technology parks, that is, the efforts of all these institutions are brought together.
The system of preventive medical check-ups has been launched throughout the country, and for the first time they include mandatory cancer screenings. This year, about 60 million people have had these check-ups.
Resettlement of unsafe housing residents is carried out ahead of schedule; I have already mentioned this recently in one of my public speeches. The plans for the year were to resettle a little more than 8,000 people, but in fact about 30,000 people received new housing.
Almost 14,000 kilometres of regional and local roads were repaired, which is almost three times more than last year. We cleared 24,000 kilometres of coastline and adjacent water areas of rivers and lakes, including the Volga River, Lake Baikal and our other unique water sites.
I would like to thank the volunteers, about a million people, for their active and direct participation in this work. Of course, all these are individual examples, but they show that the general direction of movement and the mechanisms for implementing the national projects were chosen correctly.
At the same, we have not done everything we planned. Some important indicators have not been reached, above all a decrease in the mortality rate. In general, there has been a decrease, but there are issues requiring special attention, such as deaths from cardiovascular and oncological diseases. We hoped to achieve this, but have not done it so far.
Over the course of 10 months, 579.9 out of 100,000 died from circulatory diseases with the expected number being 575 per year. It is close, but still the target indicator has not been reached. The same goes for deaths from tumours: there were 203.2 per 100,000 with the expected number of 199.5. It is also close, but the indicators have not been reached.
The support of exports is another area requiring greater effort. I am now talking about issues concerning the economy and industry. This year’s export was almost $8 billion short of plan.
Of course, price factors, the situation on the market and many other things played their role here, this is true. I have a report here from experts – both government and independent experts – that shows that this mostly happened due to objective circumstances. However, this means that the measures taken to encourage exports must be more effective, profound and thorough.
And, of course, the main and key results we still have to achieve is to really improve people’s lives, to make changes that all citizens would feel. I am not sure most people feel this now. Various public opinion polls also prove this, including polls from the agencies we cannot but trust, such as the Federal Guard Service.
The results of the 18 months of work show us several system-wide problems, and I would like to talk about them in greater detail.
First, failures in the readjustment of the governance system. For the first time we are changing the way government bodies work all across Russia. We are promoting the project approach based on the achievement of specific targets and results.
Second, the tasks and steps we must accomplish in order to achieve these goals have been formulated. Finally, money has been allocated especially for these goals and responsible officials have been appointed. We have never done anything like this on the scale of a state programme. Some federal officials in the regions are not used to such work, and we have never practiced this before.
In this sense, there are proposals to correct the key indicators in the projects. Let me say this once again, we will not do this, because we must not lower the level we set to achieve these goals. Just one step is enough to let everything go. I do not believe it viable to revise the national development goals. Any attempt to lower the indicators to work as we often worked would be harmful and unacceptable.
I would like to note once again that breakthroughs in the work of the government agencies and new up-to-date approaches at all levels of management are the most important thorough results of the national projects. The second system-wide problem is that cooperation between federal and regional bodies is not good enough. Let me remind you that the majority of the tasks stipulated in the national projects are executed in the Russian regions.
There are projects where more than half of the expenses are at the regional level where the money is invested. Just for reference: the share of regional budgets (of course, it is not just regional money but also transfers from the federal budget which are spent locally) in the Safe and High-Quality Roads national projects accounts for 94 percent (a high number, 4.2 trillion overall), 58 percent in Housing and Urban Environment and 57 percent in Education.
Unfortunately, sometimes it happens that agreements with the regions are signed and money is allocated, and our federal colleagues believe that their relations with the regional officials are over. At the end of the year, the region must report to them, and that is it. I believe this approach is wrong.
I would like to repeat once again, the federal authorities must stay in constant contact with their colleagues from the regions and municipalities. They must assist them in solving problems and provide support in difficult and non-standard situations. We need close cooperation on a daily basis, full partnership and readiness to work together in a new and more effective way.
The third problem is the irregularity of financing for the national projects, the inflexibility, I would say, and sometimes the rigidity of this mechanism.
Let me remind you that unprecedented funds have been allocated for these projects. This year 1.75 trillion rubles were allocated from the federal budget alone. However, our colleagues from the ministries and regions often say that budgeting procedures are awkward and overly bureaucratic. Resources are provided irregularly and shifted towards the end of the year, and these problems have not been eliminated even with the introduction of the e-budget.
For example, the cash execution of national projects totalled 74.8 percent as of the end of November. It is unclear whether this is good or bad, perhaps it is fine if we keep in mind what happened with budget financing in previous years. But one of such key areas, practically the main one or at least an extremely important one, is the digital economy, with cash execution totalling 27.3 percent, while that of the environment amounts to 39.8 percent.
I draw your attention to the need to improve the financial mechanisms of national projects. I know that at the end of the year, this is no surprise, at the end of the year the flywheel spins faster, but we need the whole system to work rhythmically throughout the year. It is necessary to improve this mechanism, to propose convenient solutions for the executors, for their steady and precise work on schedule.
Next. The national projects are a huge resource for the development of domestic industry and the creation of new high-tech production in Russia. Trillions of rubles are allocated for the purchasing of machinery and equipment. These funds, as we agreed, should mainly work in the country’s economy and contribute to its qualitative growth.
Instructions towards this end were issued back in 2018, but only now is there an understanding of how to organise this process. As a result, we have almost lost this year because we took too long to collect our thoughts. Let me remind you that very soon it is necessary to adopt all regulatory changes, and in the first quarter of next year we must launch a mechanism to control and monitor equipment procurement under national projects, so that it is transparent who buys what, where and how.
We can largely help solve the task of defence industry enterprises’ diversification using these resources, and we must do so. Obviously, there must be competition and we should not forget the best examples offered by the global market. However, first and foremost we must support Russian producers and encourage the best international standards so that once they become established on the domestic market, they would be able to offer their products on the global markets. We must use the mechanism I have already mentioned, support of exports.
Of course, the national projects must focus on Russians and Russian families. Their interests, needs and problems, which concern people the most. Let me repeat, people do not always and everywhere feel the results of the national projects, even where there are real results; this is what the polls show, too.
This is curious: according to the poll conducted by the Federal Guard Service in September, 30.6 percent of the respondents did not know about the implementation of the national projects at all. How can this be? We have spoken so much about this. Let us just allocate some money for informational coverage.
In fact, this is important: when people know nothing, they do not understand what the government does well, and, on the contrary, when people are more involved in these problems, the feedback is better, and we can adjust our practical work to get a better effect. In April, there were even more respondents who did not know about the implementation: 31.7 percent.
Moreover, there are examples when the most important decisions had to be revised only because they were not explained to the people. And if people asked about them, they did not receive an answer. First of all, I mean the situation with waste management.
Communication and staying in touch with the people and public organisations must be the basis of our actions, and we must always strictly comply with people’s interests. Let us always keep this in mind in our practical work.