Key socioeconomic development indicators were defined by presidential executive orders of May 7, 2012. These documents outline objectives for economic, demographic and social policy, as well as healthcare, education, science, and the provision of accessible housing for citizens.
The Commission was created by a Presidential Executive Order in July 2012.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, colleagues,
Eight months ago we agreed that we would meet regularly within the framework of the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Achievement Indicators in Russia, to examine our progress in implementing plans for developing our nation, what still remains to be done and how work is progressing in general.
As I already said, eight months have passed since the executive orders were signed in May, setting forth and indicating key priorities and concrete instructions. Today, I suggest that we talk about how our work is going, analyse problematic areas, and see where adjustments are necessary.
”The Government has already approved the key strategies, mechanisms, schedules or “roadmaps”, for achieving long-term goals and designated targets. At the same time, much of the work, namely the direct implementation of our goals, is still ahead.“
Overall, we are making good progress. The Government has already approved the key strategies, mechanisms, schedules or “roadmaps”, for achieving long-term goals and designated targets. We have a significant part of the regulatory and legal framework already in place. The State Duma has examined approximately 30 laws directly related to fulfilling the executive orders. At the same time, much of the work, namely the direct implementation of our goals, is still ahead. And in this respect, I would like to draw attention to the following key matters.
First of all, last year, we began a programme for reforming the public sector. The salaries of experts working in this sector must be increased significantly, but these increases should, of course, reflect the actual results of their work. We must be fair in assessing the conscientious work to fundamentally improve the quality of education, healthcare, and the social sector overall.
Today, I suggest discussing specifically the salaries of culture workers, or at least start with that topic. Salaries in this sector have been among the lowest in any sector. We must change this situation. Indeed, for many years we have been talking about the need to change it. And we must do so regardless of the level of power that oversees any given cultural institution. In 2012, salaries in federal cultural institutions grew by an average of 36 percent and reached 26,500 rubles per month. However, pay raises at many regional institutions were very small – often below the level of inflation. Let me remind you that in 2011, the average salary at federal institutions was 19,800 rubles, and 11,700 rubles at regional institutions. In 2012, salaries at regional institutions grew to 12,300 rubles (you can see for yourselves that this increase is very small, and the sums are very modest), showing a very modest 5.1 percent growth. This is lower than the rate of inflation.
The federal budget allocates funding to maintain the salary increase rates for federal cultural institutions’ workers in 2013. But we need to have a clear understanding of how the situation will unfold in the regions. We already began discussing this topic at the September 25, 2012 meeting of the Council for Culture and Art, and today I want us to get back to this topic and give it special attention.
Second, we must discuss healthcare and demographics. In the 11 months of last year, Russia recorded a natural increase, as you already know. It is still small, and the balance is still unstable, but just recently, the mortality rate was significantly higher than the birth rate. Thus, it is particularly important that we are able to maintain positive trends, in spite of objective factors like the smaller generation of the 1990s entering the age where they start families and have children. We are well aware of this demographic dip that we had in the 1990s. And so, this domain requires that we continue an active, comprehensive demographic policy, with measures aimed at supporting large families.
”We began a programme for reforming the public sector. We must be fair in assessing the conscientious work to fundamentally improve the quality of education, healthcare, and the social sector overall.“
This year, we have launched a programme contemplating special monthly payments to families that have a third or subsequent child, until that child reaches the age of three. Such programmes have already been adopted in 64 of Russia’s regions. Moreover, in 50 regions where the demographic situation has been unfavourable for quite a few years, these payments are being co-financed through federal funds.
By taking measures to support birth rates, we must develop the entire infrastructure for supporting children. This includes preschools, schools, after-school clubs and hobby groups for children, special paediatric support, etc. It is imperative to do everything so that families with three or more children become a norm in Russia.
I will once again repeat what I said in my Address: I know what the experts and demographers think. They say that this is a difficult or even unmanageable challenge for Russia. But everything is possible. We just need to roll up our sleeves and move toward this goal. We must set these objectives and move forward. We simply need to help people, and then it will be possible.
Furthermore, on the topic of education, we have already adopted a new law On Education. I want to once again point out in this context the necessity for developing a clear, and at the same time, flexible methodology for assessing the efficacy of educational institutions. And here, I will once again stress the importance of open, trust-based dialogue with the professional community.
The fundamental issue is access to education. This includes an important factor: student stipends.
We set a minimum stipend level for well-performing first and second-year students in need. Just recently, the minimum stipend for this category of students was 2,750 rubles, but now it has been set at 6,307 rubles. In other words, it increased almost 2.5-fold, or to be more precise, 2.3-fold.
”By taking measures to support birth rates, we must develop the entire infrastructure for supporting children. It is imperative to do everything so that families with three or more children become a norm in Russia.“
Fourth, in developing education, the labour market, infrastructure and the social sector, we must fully adapt everything to the needs of people with disabilities. This is also an indicator of our society’s maturity and its level of justice. We plan to create over 14,000 jobs a year for people with disabilities. This is an exceedingly important issue, it is critical for disabled people – the creation of specialised jobs. We are allocating more than 873 million rubles for this purpose in 2013, nearly 917 million in 2014, and 962.8 million in 2015 from the federal budget. We need these funds to be directed toward the specified objectives in a timely manner and used effectively.
Fifth, among our absolute priorities is providing affordable, comfortable housing to our citizens. I have already said this and want to repeat: I believe that in the next few years, we can certainly achieve significant results in this direction, indeed, a breakthrough.
For example, we are seeing some good growth in mortgage loans. According to preliminary assessments, the volume of loans extended last year was nearly one trillion rubles. The same dynamic is necessary in all other areas related to providing citizens with affordable, comfortable housing.
Naturally, we must not forget about modernising housing services and utilities. I propose that we have a separate discussion on this topic as well.
And another important issue. In accordance with the executive orders, measures were to be developed on improving living conditions for families with three or more children. One such measure is to provide a free land plot with all engineering infrastructure and utilities in place.
Currently, we have about one million families with three or more children. Among them, approximately 110,000 need better housing – in other words, they are on waiting lists. In reality, I think, there are even more. Work is underway in many federal constituent entities to improve the situation. But you know, the heads of many regions are asking us to give them the opportunity to independently determine more effective forms of assistance and support for large families. Many of the governors say that providing land plots is not always effective. Perhaps that is true. In that case, we need to offer something else that is no less effective. Let’s discuss this matter today as well.
And another thing. Fundamental steps were taken last year to defend the rights of entrepreneurs. Together with the business community, we are implementing a national entrepreneurial initiative and creating an institution of the Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights. Indeed, it has already been formed from a legal standpoint, but the infrastructure needed for this work is still being created.
”Fundamental steps were taken to defend the rights of entrepreneurs. This is an area that requires monitoring and active work with the business community and with public organisations to identify and remove barriers hindering the development of entrepreneurship.“
We are improving our legislative framework. For example, people can now initiate a fraud case provided that the affected party files a corresponding application. The overwhelming majority of people present here understand what I am talking about. I am referring to abuses in this area by law enforcement agencies. I hope that the measures taken will eliminate this problem.
Clearly, this is an area that requires monitoring and active work with the business community and with public organisations to identify and remove barriers hindering the development of entrepreneurial initiative and entrepreneurship in general.
We will certainly look into other issues related to implementing executive orders, including the ones that require more time to resolve than we initially thought. I repeat, right now we are entering the key stage – the stage of actually implementing the provisions of these executive orders. A great deal will need to be done both in the federal centre and in the Russian regions.
I am asking the Government to approach this work with full responsibility, monitoring the implementation of our objectives and ensuring the collection of statistical data – data that should be objective in nature – keeping track to ensure that the people implementing them have sufficient methodological support, especially in the regions.
Please remember that the key result of our work does not lie in the number of laws passed, executive orders or regulations issued. Rather, what’s most important is for the life of every citizen to change for the better as a result of our efforts.
Let’s begin our work.