President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today, there are two main items on our agenda: small businesses, and road quality and traffic safety.
I will begin with roads. Much has been done in recent years. We talk about it constantly, but a lot has also been done. Federal highways are being brought up to standard, and this work is funded almost in full.
Of course, roads are always a challenge, and we need to do even more in that area than has already been done. I will say more on that later. With regard to federal highways, the work is moving in the right direction. According to the Ministry of Transport, the financing of federal roads stands at about 91 percent of the amount of standard expenses involved in major overhauls, repair and maintenance.
Notably, a drop in the traffic-related death rate is the most important outcome of the upgrading of federal roads. By the way, we have not yet achieved the benchmark set for 2018 in accordance with the May executive orders. As you may recall, the goal is to reduce traffic-related deaths to 10.6 per 100,000 by 2018. We have witnessed a certain decline, but this figure has yet to be reached.
I would also like to point out that, when it comes to road safety, the law now draws a clear line between the responsibility of the federal, regional and municipal authorities, and that of the owners of private roads.
I would like to make one more point. As we know from the direct lines with our citizens, the condition of regional and local roads is often criticised. Many of them, even in cities with one million or more residents have remained without proper maintenance for a long time now. This problem needs to be resolved, and at a much faster pace than has been done until now. To do so, we need to fully utilise the resources of the regional road funds. All the more so, since we decided to allocate additional funds from excise taxes on petrol to these funds.
According to the Transport Ministry, this decision will make it possible to allot an additional 40 billion rubles to the regional budgets for further crediting of regional road fund accounts.
For your reference, I would also like to say that at present, financing of regional roads in the Russian Federation on average does not exceed 15 percent of the normative funding levels for major repairs, servicing and maintenance.
I also consider it important to ensure the maximum possible informational transparency with regard to road construction and the use of road fund resources. Citizens certainly have the right and should be able to see how the collected resources are spent.
I would like to reiterate that we should drastically improve the situation with regard to regional roads. As a first step, efforts could be focused on so-called agglomerations, where the largest number of the country’s citizens live.
It is necessary to set a coherent, clear task: by 2018, no less than half of the roads in these agglomerations should be brought up to standard, to a state that meets modern requirements, while by 2025, the share of such roads should reach about 85 percent, no less. In fact, these are feasible tasks, because at present, about 65 percent of federal and only 39 percent of regional roads meet the normative requirements. Generally, as I said, these are quite realistic tasks.
In this regard, I would like to ask the Construction Ministry to expedite the adoption of regulatory acts and standards, which will make it possible to build roads by using advanced technologies and materials.
Special attention should also be paid to road safety. There are dangerous road sections where, because of potholes and bumps, and a lack of guardrails, markings or warning signs, road accidents with serious and very serious, including fatal consequences happen time after time. It is necessary to eliminate such sections, including in large agglomerations, where traffic is especially intense.
At the same time, it is certainly important to continuously receive information about dangerous, accident-prone road sections from citizens, so that they can oversee what the authorities and road owners are doing to rectify the situation.
I will ask the Minister of the Interior to tell us in more detail about what is being done to enhance safety on the roads. It is a disaster. I do not even want to talk about it – I would rather hear from you – because there is so much rough stuff and it is such a mess. The authorities must respond to cases of such behaviour.
Colleagues, one more topic of our meeting is support for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.
We have addressed this subject more than once and are implementing the decisions that have been adopted. The development of small and medium-sized businesses is effective and much in demand. During this year alone, purchases by natural monopolies and companies with public ownership increased more than ten-fold and exceeded a trillion roubles, which is a significant amount. As a result, over 110,000 jobs have been created in small companies. This is a good indicator.
By 2018 the number of peopled employed by small companies and individual entrepreneurs should increase to 20 million. In the long-term, the level of employment in small companies and their share of the GDP should catch up with those countries where business, primarily small and medium-sized, is the backbone of the economy. We must continue creating a favourable environment for business, focusing our efforts on supporting key small business sectors.
There is something I would like to add. First, we must primarily pay attention to the development of manufacturing, high-tech small business. Such companies should not only be guaranteed demand for their products and orders from large corporations with public ownership. It is necessary to help them supply quality and competitive products.
Today small companies often find it difficult to certify their products, as we said many times, and to get access to equipment, technology and loans. We must create a whole infrastructure of support for small-business producers, including a network of regional leasing centres that will be ready to provide entrepreneurs with modern equipment.
Second, it is necessary to take a large step forward in terms of developing business in rural areas, primarily by helping owners of household plots to sell their produce, providing them with guarantees and loan support and assisting them in organising production.
A number of areas, for instance Lipetsk and Tyumen regions, have successful experience in developing agricultural cooperation. I suggest elaborating mechanisms for spreading the best regional practices.
Third, services are a large niche for small companies. It is necessary to make greater efforts to expand throughout the country of the step-by-step support system for entrepreneurs who wish to work in this sphere.
The so-called “business navigator” that has already been launched should become a major instrument in this respect. It provides, free of charge, more or less complete information on what services are required in a city or village, how to set up a business faster and what assistance is available.
I would like to mention in particular those who work independently in different spheres – from small repairs and construction to auto care. As you may understand, I am referring to so-called self-employed individuals. We have millions of them. People are simply compelled to remain “in the shadows” so as not to deal with the red tape, exaction, constant inspections and pressure that are probably excessive for the type of work involved.
I think that self-employed citizens should be offered an understandable and convenient instrument for cooperating with the state in order to enable them to calmly and legally run and expand their small but private business and to earn a living honestly through their labour and abilities.
We have repeatedly discussed, and I have just spoken about this to Mr Medvedev, and at forums of the United Russia party and Russian Popular Front events the need to relieve the self-employed from taxes and mandatory fees for a certain period, for instance a couple of years, so as to enable them to get into a normal rhythm of legal operations without too many burdens.
In addition, of course, it is necessary to rule out any possibility of qualifying the work of self-employed citizens as illegal entrepreneurship. If need be, special amendments should be introduced in the legislation.