In addition to discussing the national professional qualification system, which was on the agenda, the meeting participants addressed issues pertaining to the three-year moratorium on auditing small businesses, accessibility of preschool education, the situation on the petrol market following the introduction of the Euro 5 standard, and harmonisation of the educational standards and professional standards systems.
Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova reported that two Ebola vaccines have been registered in Russia and applications have already been received from Guinea and the Pasteur Institute to use these vaccines in comparative trials. The President stated that he has already issued the relevant instructions to the Foreign Ministry.
Excerpts from transcript of the meeting with Government members
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Happy New Year to those of you I have not seen this year yet, and also greetings on the coming New Year in the old style.
We have had long holidays, but this should not preclude us from starting our work efficiently. Specifically as the situation requires a concentration of our resources, both administrative, and financial in certain areas to resolve a number of issues. We will consider one of them in detail later today.
We have invited Mr Shokhin [President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Chairman of the National Council on Professional Qualifications] to join us. We will consider one of the most important economic matters – the national system of professional qualifications.
First, some current matters. As of January 1, a federal law has come into effect – or, rather, we expanded it to cover small and medium-sized businesses – banning, or, say, limiting inspections of businesses for a period of three years. This applies to businesses that operate in good faith and are not questionable.
(Speakers on the issues on the agenda were Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov, Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova, Labour and Social Protection Minister Maxim Topilin, and Alexander Shokhin.)
Vladimir Putin: Now to matters not covered in our agenda. I would like to draw your attention to the changing situation on the markets. Knowing that the Government is already analysing this work, I would like to say that this is of extreme importance. We must be prepared for any kind of developments on the raw materials markets and the stock markets, to follow them closely and to have a plan for the development of the Russian economy to fit any scenario.
I would like to repeat something we have been discussing with Mr Medvedev and I know our colleagues have been working on: the Economic Development Ministry and the Finance Ministry should join this work. This does not mean we should change anything radically now, but I would like to stress that we should be prepared for any scenario.
I would like to highlight the fact that so far we have acted professionally and prudently despite the fluctuations on the world markets. This is evidenced by a smaller budget deficit than we expected – about 2.6 percent this year. Overall, this is a good macroeconomic figure, provided we manage to balance our finances and the budget. We have envisaged the developments we had to deal with last year.
We must demonstrate the same professional, prudent and timely reaction to the issues that are occurring in the world economy and in our economy this year, early this year. We will look forward to changes for the better, however, as always, we need to be prepared for any kind of developments.
Thank you very much.