The autonomous non-profit organisation Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects was established in August 2011 in order to promote social and professional mobility of young professionals and teams in medium-sized businesses and the social sector by supporting socially significant projects and initiatives.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today’s meeting of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Supervisory Board has a very full agenda. We will review new projects that have been proposed by ASI, talk about the prospects and discuss another set of roadmaps to improve the business climate.
Let me remind you that the first time the Supervisory Board held a meeting was a year ago. We approved a number of projects and an action plan for ASI. Later, we significantly expanded the scope of the Agency’s activities, instructing the team to create a platform for the implementation of the National Business Initiative to Improve the Investment Climate in the Russian Federation.
All tasks assigned to the Agency correspond to its mission: to search for and support outstanding leaders with new approaches to management; their ideas, energy and commitment to achieve their goals should be the driving force of change. I consider the involvement of such individuals in the national development drive to be a strategic task and a key to success of the action programme in the coming years.
“It is vitally important that the Agency has succeeded in consolidating public and business organisations, in involving companies directly in the preparations and decision-making.”
I would like to note that the implementation of individual projects supported by ASI encourages the replication of effective practices in various fields, from industry to the social sector. For example, the federal standards for the equipment used to transport household gas have been changed through the Agency’s efforts. It appears to be a minor issue at first glance but it is a concrete result achieved in improving gas safety, which is very important, as we all know, and also leads to the creation of a huge new market for modern technology.
Another example from a completely different sphere is preschool education. With the help of ASI, the project of constructing preschool centres of a new type has been successfully realised and the initiative for the development of the private preschool education sector is being actively promoted. Such private, family preschools play a significant part in quickly addressing the very acute problem of preschool waiting lists.
Another important project supported by the Agency is the Global Education programme, which provides state financing for talented students, young teachers and professionals from around the country studying at leading universities in Russia and abroad. I would like to hear about the progress made by the programme.
Incidentally, I believe that the example of the Far Eastern Federal University shows that this programme could be upgraded to include funding for inviting top level, interesting and promising foreign lecturers to come work in Russia, rather than pay for our students to go study abroad. The Far Eastern Federal University has an interesting practice, which I have talked about before: they held competitions for outstanding scientists (they had 10 applicants per position) and for foreign lecturers (4, 5 or 6 applications per position). All we need to do is create the right conditions.
Today we will consider several new projects in industry, education and the social sector. I ask you to place special emphasis on the compound, systemic effect these projects will have.
Now on the National Business Initiative. It is vitally important that in its efforts in this area the Agency has succeeded in consolidating public and business organisations, in involving companies directly in the preparations and decision-making. We approved the first roadmaps at the last Supervisory Board meeting in May. Today, the Supervisory Board will consider five new roadmaps proposed by the Agency, which contain solutions to optimise the registration of property and new businesses, and to improve the quality of government regulation as a whole.
“We will assess the performance of ministries and agencies, as well as governors of the Russian regions in creating a favourable business climate and the actual results achieved. The assessment criteria are clear, including the number of reduced excess procedures, companies’ financial and time outlays, and businesses’ opinion of the state agencies’ performance.”
I would like you to focus not only on the registration of new businesses, but also on the initial stages of operation. It is not that hard to register a business in Russia but the organisation of the company’s activities at the initial stage remains extremely difficult. I will not list all these hidden challenges, but there are too many of them, as I am sure you know better than I do.
In general, the task is to improve the quality of government regulation, as I said, including through the use of information technology. A separate area is increased access of small and medium-sized businesses to procurement, which is conducted by infrastructure monopolies and companies with state participation. Their procurement is comparable to budgetary expenditures.
I would especially like to highlight the roadmap for the development of competition. Recently, a number of important decisions were adopted in the field of antimonopoly regulation. However, these efforts must continue consistently; in particular, we must significantly limit the infringement of competition on the part of the state and municipal authorities. Entrepreneurs must get a real sense of improvement in the competitive environment. As we originally agreed, each road map should set clear objectives and deadlines for individual events, as well as the responsible ministries and agencies. I hope that following this Supervisory Board meeting, the roadmaps will be finalised and approved by the Government in the near future.
What points do I want to make in this regard? The practice of introducing the first roadmaps shows that changes do not always happen the way we would like them to. Certain agencies’ attitude to these tasks has been rather perfunctory. All the documents have been signed, the meeting have been held, but businesses see very few changes in practice. Today we invited the top officials of the Federal Customs Service, who are going to report on the practice that has been introduced in line with the roadmap on customs regulation of providing preliminary information about goods and accompanying persons at border checkpoints. Such a mechanism, in the opinion of the business community, can greatly simplify the customs control procedure.
However, what we see in practice? The preliminary information provision has been introduced only at road border crossing. Businesses say the introduction of this practice has not helped achieve the main task, which is to reduce the customs clearance time. Mr Belyaninov [Director of the Federal Customs Service] has done a great deal in recent years to improve the performance of the Federal Customs Service: systemic measures are being introduced and structural reforms are carried out. I expect that he will explain to us today why these steps have been implemented in such a limited way. There is always an explanation at hand, but I would rather prefer that we didn’t explain to each other why it is impossible to do something, but instead reported what has been done and what will be done in fulfilling the decisions that have been adopted.
“Many ambitious, interesting initiatives are currently being implemented in the new communication environments. We have a lot of young people with interesting ideas, a lot of talented programmers, including public activists, who can implement these ideas or use them in their work. It is important to create the conditions for these people to implement their projects here in Russia, at home. We must begin by offering them effective tools for public-private partnerships.”
Please note that starting this year we will assess the performance of ministries and agencies, as well as governors of the Russian regions in creating a favourable business climate and the actual results achieved. The assessment criteria are clear, including the number of reduced excess procedures, companies’ financial and time outlays, and businesses’ opinion of the state agencies’ performance.
The efficiency assessment indicators for federal executive bodies, as well as regional governors have already been approved. I ask the Economic Development Ministry and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives to ensure their implementation.
In addition, I believe that the Agency for Strategic Initiatives should establish public and operational control over the implementation of the roadmaps. It should involve all the major business associations in Russia. There should be no room for competition. You must work together with everyone.
Moreover, every entrepreneur should have the opportunity to report on the local problems as they arise. Modern information technology makes the development of such a mechanism possible, and I ask the Agency to look into this matter. Please take the necessary actions and steps as soon as possible. Let me stress that any difficulties encountered in the implementation of the roadmaps must be immediately reported to the Supervisory Board. If we do not respond to real-life situations straight away, all these initiatives will get stalled in the red tape.
Next. I firmly believe that the preparation of the roadmaps must be accelerated. If we want to become the best, meaning not only the Agency for Strategic Initiatives but our economy as a whole, we must move faster than our competitors, and this is especially important after Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. We cannot postpone key measures until later while we limit ourselves to minor cosmetic changes. We must adopt a systemic and comprehensive response to every problem faced by businesses. At the end of the year, we will hold a State Council meeting devoted to the quality of the investment climate in the regions, and I would ask everyone here to prepare serious, well thought out proposals.
We promised to entrepreneurs that we would radically improve the business environment, that we will make 100 steps to improving the business climate. Therefore, participation in the development of roadmaps and the implementation of approved measures should be a key priority for all executive government bodies.
Through the National Business Initiative and project implementation, ASI has acquired a new interaction format or created a new format in relations between the state and society, and new mechanisms for broad public participation. The Agency’s valuable positive experience must be used in the future, including in the execution of other important and responsible tasks.
“Russia could establish a special foundation that would select online initiatives and finance those that have high social value and address socially important issues. We need a financial source in order to provide jobs for the creative class of young people who are willing and able to work in new environment and who have the skills do it efficiently. We must support them.”
I have a proposal in this regard, which I think is impressive in its scale, as they say. Many ambitious, interesting initiatives are currently being implemented in the new communication environments; the Internet has different communities, digital libraries, websites, civic and charity initiatives, e-learning portals, as well as just games, which is also good. Those resources instantly attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of users around the world. We have a lot of young people with interesting ideas, a lot of talented programmers, including public activists, who can implement these ideas or use them in their work. It is important to create the conditions for these people to implement their projects here in Russia, at home. We must begin by offering them effective tools for public-private partnerships.
I think Russia could establish a special foundation that would select online initiatives and finance those that have high social value and address socially important issues. I can promise that I will help you with the funding for the foundation, we can look for sources of finance. In short, we need a financial source in order to provide jobs for the creative class of young people who are willing and able to work in new environment and who have the skills do it efficiently. We must support them.
First of all, our support should go to the projects based on new technology and management solutions, and most importantly, the result of such initiatives should be a new quality of life for our citizens. The foundation will sponsor only those projects that have already attracted a certain amount of resources, primarily from private individuals and the users of such online products through the process of collective funding. It may become necessary to introduce amendments to our legislation.
The work must be absolutely transparent, that is, each participant, each project initiator must have a clear understanding of how his or her application is processed, and which criteria are used to make the decisions on the allocation of funding. I think that this should become a priority area in the Agency’s activities, and I expect you to submit concrete proposals on the foundation’s organisation.