President of Russia Vladimir Putin: First of all I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Stepashin for his work as Accounts Chamber Chairperson. His tenure was long and productive; 13 years is a long time. Indeed, a great deal was accomplished both with regards to establishing the Chamber itself, and furthering its development and efficient operation.
I also want to thank the executive authorities and Parliament for their cooperation, because [your] main task was inspecting the efficiency with which the money Parliament allocates for supporting all government functions and fields of activity – in the social sphere, defence and security – was spent. All this was organised in such a way that it helped both the President and the Government to do their work properly. Thank you very much.
For a great many years now Mr Stepashin and I have enjoyed a good working relationship and friendship. I very much hope that your experience and knowledge will be well-used in other positions; we’ll talk about this later.
Ms Golikova is taking up the position now. She has a lot of experience in the financial sector, in the Cabinet both as Deputy Finance Minister and as Healthcare Minister, and last year she had the occasion to work in the Presidential Executive Office. You have a great deal of experience and knowledge relevant to the position you are taking up.
I assume that your close collaboration not only with the Parliament, but also with the Cabinet and presidential structures, will continue. I very much expect that you will keep working closely together. I am confident that this cooperation will help both you and the executive agencies address their respective tasks.
Thank you very much and good luck.
Sergei Stepashin: Can I just say two words?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.
Sergei Stepashin: Thank you for allowing such a change to take place: a post was vacated, and a post was taken. I think this is a very good thing, and I say this sincerely; as you know, I am not used to concealing the truth.
Secondly, I would like to thank you for these thirteen and a half years. I once joked during a speech that it took me less time to graduate from school. I have not worked anywhere for longer than this. Indeed, today the Accounts Chamber has acquired a new meaning, significance and functions, particularly in connection with the new law you supported last year.
Today in addition to auditing the budget and national programmes, the Chamber also monitors the Government’s work. In this regard, it is very important that today we have an excellent legal and regulatory framework in which to do so. Isn’t that true, Ms Golikova?
Accounts Chamber Chairperson Tatyana Golikova: Yes.
Sergei Stepashin: Today we cannot complain about anything. We have a good team and excellent specialists. We [Ms Golikova and I] also have our own history: incidentally, I appointed her Deputy [Finance] Minister, under [Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail] Kasyanov [2000–2004]. And thanks to you too.
You know, I am sometimes accused of having subjected the Accounts Chamber to the President’s will, and I talked about this again in Parliament. My answer is that in Russia the President is the head of state and guarantor of the Constitution, and the fact that he is involved in personnel appointments is common international and global practice. This is also true in Germany, the United States, France, the UK and other countries.
The second thing I want to say is that whenever I reported the most complex cases to you, the decisions taken were always very incisive and satisfactory. So thank you for your support and joint work. I think that Ms Golikova will succeed very well.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, for my part I want to thank you for submitting my candidacy to the State Duma, so that Parliament was able to make its decision.
I would also like to say a few words about Mr Stepashin, because during my first days working at the Accounts Chamber I was already able to ascertain that work has been well organised and is proceeding as planned. All the documents are there.
October 1 is the date when the new Federal Law [On the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, signed April 8, 2013] enters into force. Many of the Chamber’s powers have been clarified and expanded, and new powers have been added. Now we must create an additional regulatory and normative foundation that will allow us to interact with all branches of government, as you said, in order to ensure the Chamber’s effective operation.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the new powers Mr Stepashin mentioned have to do with some non-traditional functions, such as examining laws and regulations at the draft stage, before they have entered into force. This expert review helps prevent errors and possible gaps in future legislation.
Since the Accounts Chamber’s establishment – almost 20 years ago now – we have accumulated important analytical and information resources we can draw on to prevent potential errors. In this respect I think that clear and regular interaction with the Cabinet would be appropriate, because cooperation designed to promptly respond to such documents has already been established with the Parliament and executive agencies.
Furthermore, you know that, on the one hand, the federal budget is being drafted in stringent conditions and, on the other hand, this is done in a new way. That is, the Cabinet now plans to organise the budget in terms of national programmes. These programmes have been adopted but they require some review related to the financial stringency. For that reason I think that a body such as the Chamber can play an invaluable – if we can use such a term – role in assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of budgetary allocations. In these new conditions we are now going to submit a report on the draft budget when it is debated in the first reading.
Indeed, I hope – and Mr Stepashin and I have agreed on this – that although a [personnel] change has occurred, his and his colleagues’ experience will not be forgotten, and we will consult them on all issues regularly.
Vladimir Putin: That is precisely what I wanted to draw your attention to. You have a great deal of your own experience and excellent professional knowledge. I hope that everything positive Mr Stepashin achieved in previous years will be fully put into practice.
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