The main issues on the meeting's agenda were measures to implement presidential executive orders on Russia's socioeconomic development. The meeting participants discussed three issues in particular: the development of education, modernisation of the housing and utilities sector, and increasing labour productivity.
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Speech at a joint meeting of the State Council and the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Achievement Indicators of the Russian Federation
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of the State Council, friends, colleagues,
This is the final State Council meeting in 2013 and, as usual, we will talk about the year’s results. Above all, we will review the situation in the most important sectors, such as education, housing and utilities, as well as modernising the Russian economy and improving its efficiency. I propose to exclude healthcare, also a vitally important sector, from today's discussion. We will look at it at a separate meeting later this week.
I want to note that overall the federal and regional authorities are coping well with the work on fulfilling the relevant instructions. I spoke about this in the recent Address to the Federal Assembly.
However, life in general is not changing for the better, or the changes are too slow, as we know all too well. Members of the public regularly point this out during our meetings. We must conduct a detailed analysis to understand what is wrong, where the problem lies, and what needs to be done to make the situation improve more rapidly.
I would like to draw the attention of the Government, regional authorities and state agencies to a system-wide, chronic problem. We are still witnessing the situation when the key legislation or document has been adopted but regulations, departmental acts, and instructions describing a specific mechanism, are not prepared on time. As a result, no progress is made. I ask you to make good on these regulatory debts as soon as possible.
Next. Not all regions are actively involved in the work on the implementation of the 2012 executive orders. In some cases, this has happened for objective reasons, while in others there are clear omissions and mistakes. I ask all colleagues in the regions to take note of what I just said. I emphasise again, each of the areas identified in the executive orders requires responsible and coordinated efforts of all levels of government: federal, regional and municipal.
I ask the ministers and regional leaders to focus on the problem areas in their reports, the sectors where there has been no tangible progress so far, including due to the lack of proper interaction, where the efforts of the federal and regional authorities are not coordinated as well as they should be and do not complement each other.
Finally, we have not yet established proper public control over the work of state authorities. We talk a lot on this subject, but progress has been very slow indeed. This means that the Government, state agencies and regional authorities must implement an effective awareness-building policy, explaining the essence of adopted decisions, discussing them openly with the public and engaging the public in the early stages of the decision-making process.
Let's go over some specific topics. I will start with the housing and utilities sector and the housing problem – the most acute and painful issue, and one that we can say is chronic in our country.
Today I would like to say a few words about resettling people living in dilapidated properties. Let me remind you that in line with the executive orders, the current resettlement programme applies to properties recognised to be in an emergency state as of January 1, 2012. The deadline for this work is September 1, 2017. When we set these objectives, we were confident that this task can be completed by the deadline. What is happening in reality? The situation in the sector is abominable. Only four percent of the 2013 plan has been fulfilled: a little over 1,500 people have been resettled out of the planned 42,000.
Colleagues, this is simply unacceptable. This is not serious work. You see, this is a very important, a vital matter for people. What does it mean to live in an emergency building? We are legally obliged to resettle the residents of emergency housing. I know the scale and the numbers can be different, but you are aware of the real situation. It is unacceptable: people spend decades living in barracks and various adapted premises. We discussed this issue at a meeting in Elista and agreed to establish a reserve of rental housing and set up a system of non-profit rentals, but even the legal framework for this area has not been adopted.
I want the regions and the Government to explain what has prevented them from organising the work on resettling residents of emergency buildings and what decisions must be adopted urgently. We have even agreed on the funding that will be allocated for this purpose. I have said a hundred times that we must be able to concentrate financial and administrative resources on the most important issues.
Another question concerns the improvement of housing conditions for large families, including through the allocation of land plots for construction. This idea was first proposed by Mr Medvedev. What happens in reality? There are different local approaches to the provision of land; some localities make active and intelligent use of this mechanism and achieve good results, whereas others seem to deliberately drag out the necessary decisions or submit proposals that make no sense at all. It is completely pointless to allocate land for large families somewhere in the middle of nowhere, without any infrastructure. They can’t even sell it. In addition, large families often don’t have enough money to build their own house. As a result, their housing situation does not improve at all. This summer instructions were issued to work out alternative mechanisms for addressing large families’ housing problems. I hope to hear today what has been done in this area.
Now, let’s move on to education. I would like you to report today on achieving targets for raising the wages at all levels of the education system. It is true that there has been some progress. In secondary education, the average wage (27,556 rubles) is currently at 95 percent of the average for the economy. We can say that this target has been nearly reached.
The results are more modest with regard to additional education, but there has also been some improvement. Preschools are doing a little better than additional education with 93 percent of the average wage, which is also not bad. In universities and the entire higher education system, the figure stands at 35,879 rubles, or 124 percent of the average wage for the economy.
I want to emphasise again that the growth of wages and an increase in budget expenditure for education should be accompanied by structural changes in the budget network. We have already said this many times; everyone understands this, everyone is nodding – yes, this must be done. And it is being done, but on an unacceptably small scale. We need a solid system for teachers’ professional development and a stronger material base of educational institutions.
Particular attention should be paid to increasing the availability of places in kindergartens. It is important to have a clear idea of the current and future needs in the development of the preschool network. Let me remind you that the online kindergarten registration system will be launched on January 1, 2014, and from April 1, 2014 all municipalities will transfer to a single information system.
In addition, we must take another look at the availability of places in secondary schools. As I said in the Address to the Federal Assembly, the number of students in Russia’s secondary schools will increase by one million in the next five to six years. Yet even today almost half of city schools work in two shifts. We must assess the scale of this issue and potential problems, and propose effective solutions.
It is essential to restructure higher education to meet the needs of the economy and the challenges facing individual regions and the country as a whole. There must be a wide range of mechanisms for cooperation between business and educational institutions, so that future professionals can gain the necessary skills directly at the companies that may employ them in the future, and those who are working already have the opportunity to upgrade their skills, change their profession and even their field of activity, if necessary.
I also believe we should consider reviving mentoring programmes. Many of those who are successfully employed in manufacturing have been through this school, and now we need modern forms of experience exchange in the workplace. Of course, this should not exist on paper only. We should create a system of strong incentives for mentors, and it should be effective modern mentoring, the transfer of experience and specific skills.
I would like to emphasise that the training of highly skilled workers and engineers for the real economy is not someone's corporate, private responsibility but a national necessity, one of the main preconditions for a significant increase in productivity, which, as you know, is one of our key development challenges, as we have said many times.
We have often stated at different venues that the Russian economy must be competitive. What does this actually mean? Along with the high standard of training, it involves the improvement of working conditions, replacement of hazardous industries, widespread use of new technologies and, as a result, changes in the structure of the economy, increasing its efficiency, the growth of high quality jobs and higher wages – all of this is called intensive development, to use an economic term. Let me remind you that the volume of investment in the Russian economy must reach at least 25 percent of GDP by 2015, and 25 million highly productive jobs must be created by 2020. Current data show that so far these plans are not being implemented as we would like.
Yes, we have growth: according to Rosstat, investment in fixed capital grew between January and November. Overall, the figure seems decent: 17.8% of GDP. But that’s still 0.8 percent less than last year. Granted, we haven’t included the calculations for December yet, but it is clear we will not have significant growth this year, and we may even have a slight drop: slight, but nevertheless, a drop.
Most importantly, all these priority areas of work are not well reflected in the programmes being implemented at every level of government or in investment plans at companies with state participation. We talk about priorities, but later, as I said, these priorities often fail to be reflected in programmes at ministries and agencies, in regions and state corporations. The one should not lag behind the other; otherwise, we will not achieve any results. Clearly, we are lacking precision, clarity and attention to detail, as well as step-by-step roadmaps to increase labour productivity in the Russian economy. I am referring to effective incentives for businesses to renew and modernise production, state support measures for patenting and certifying new products, and specific mechanisms for increasing employment in small businesses, particularly in single-industry towns.
I believe it is imperative to reinforce this list of measures with a separate Government act and assess the progress in their implementation at least once every six months.
In addition, I am counting on the active implementation of the measures I spoke about in the Address to the Federal Assembly: incentivesfor creating the infrastructure in industrial and technical parks and business incubators. Colleagues, I ask you not to overcomplicate this. It is a concrete measure, we have discussed it together and it can be effective, but it needs to be implemented.
I suggest getting actively involved in creating priority development areas in the Far East and in Eastern Siberia with special conditions for organising non-extractive production. I feel this is the most important task for supporting business activity and creating new jobs.
Colleagues, let’s wrap up. In conclusion, I would like to say the following.
There are very many of us in this hall. But that is to be expected since this is our concluding, finalmeeting, a discussion summarising the outcomes of this year, an analysis of what has been done in the most important areas of our work.
But although there are many of us here, this number is insignificant compared to the population of our country. We are only a few people compared to Russia’s population of nearly 145 million – 143 million, to be precise. Yet a great deal in our country’s progress and our people’s lives depends on the individuals gathered here today.
We have discussed the most critical areas of our work. I want to repeat again: I would very much like for this not to be just an obligatory meeting where we talk, nod our heads, reflect and go our separate ways.
First of all, I ask the Government and Presidential Executive Office administrationsto jointly prepare a final document of our meeting today.
Second, over the course of the upcoming year, we will return to individual aspects of our work, but there is one I want to highlight especially: the housing programme. After today’s suggestions are formulated and we have laid out methods for addressing the challenges we face, I ask that we meet again in May, in this formator a slightly more restricted one, and discuss what has been done to implement today’s suggestions.
We will hold our first meeting on this issue in May, and the second in November. This will happen in 2014. If I see that the state of affairs we have in some places at present continues, for example, if 25 percent of the federal funding allocated to the housing problem is not being implemented – what does that mean? How are we working? Everywhere else, we hear that there is not enough money – too little here, not enough there.
If this funding returns into the federal budget, if it isn’t used for the intended purpose, if it is redistributed again, the programme will remain at a standstill. Meanwhile, this is one of the most pressingissues in our country. So in May, we will see what has been done and how, and then meet again to discuss this matter in November of next year.
I want to tell you that, as they say in these situations, it’s nothing personal. Just look, almost nothing has been done in Stavropol. It’s understandable that a new person has become Governor and he had some health problems, so he had to take a lot of time off work. But what about other places? What is going on in other regions?
We will look at what has been done in May, and then calmly return to it in November and analyse who has been working, and how, on an individual basis.
I want to repeat: nothing personal! It’s just that I need for this work to be done, for the objectives we have set and articulated to be fulfilled. This is true for both the federal and regional authorities. And at the end of November, we will make certain decisions, including administrative ones, where necessary. I am just asking you to keep this in mind.