President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues.
We are continuing our examination of the draft federal budget’s main parameters. I propose that we look at social spending today.
This is certainly a key issue, and not just for the budget process. The situation in the social sector reflects the effectiveness of the state authorities’ work in general and determines the level and quality of life for our country’s people.
This year, despite the economic difficulties we faced, we have managed to maintain the federal budget’s social focus. Around 35 percent of budget spending went on financing education, healthcare, culture and social policy measures in 2016. In absolute terms, this comes to around 5.6 trillion rubles.
As I have said, we must ensure that we meet all social commitments next year as well. We must ensure all guarantees to our citizens in this area.
Of course, there is no denying the fact that the economic situation and the circumstances we face have an impact on budget planning and in some areas we are forced to limit spending growth and redistribute funds in order to resolve the highest priority tasks.
These include projects to modernise the vocational education system at all levels, re-equip hospitals and medical centres, and support cultural and social services facilities. We have to keep up the current pace in these areas.
We must ensure that people working in the social sector earn a decent wage. I remind you that up to a quarter of the country’s workforce is engaged in this sector.
The situation with the federal and regional budgets has a direct impact on the living standards of millions of Russian families. It is important to maintain their income levels.
Of course, we also need to ensure support for the elderly and for socially vulnerable groups. As we agreed, we must make provisions for a one-off payment to pensioners, for indexing pensions to actual inflation in 2016, and for additional federal social payments for pensioners.
At the same time, we must make social support measures more effective and work on the principle of targeted support for those who need it most. This is something we have discussed many times.
Let us begin our work.