President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Chaika, you wanted to tell me about the support of small and medium-sized businesses. Please go ahead.
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika: Mr President, the Prosecutor General's Office is systematically implementing comprehensive policies to protect the rights of entrepreneurs. The tax and inspection holidays we introduced, as well as the single registry of inspections have yielded good results: there are fewer inspections now. In fact, the number of inspections has been decreasing steadily, falling by half from 2015, to some 460,000 inspections per year.
Vladimir Putin: How many were there before?
Yury Chaika: Over a million.
Business started breathing easier, as they say. However, there are new problems, which we have reported to you. The state and municipal contracts, although dutifully fulfilled by companies, end up not paid for in full; it is obvious that small and medium-sized businesses cannot function in such circumstances.
Following your instructions, which you issued last November, we have been addressing these problems vigorously. The current debt of state and municipal customers to businesses has not been eliminated, but I should note that during the year, thanks to the of prosecutorial response actions, nearly 26 billion rubles of those debts have been repaid. In Krasnodar Territory alone, 4.2 billion rubles were paid to businesses.
Huge amounts were overdue in areas like healthcare, residential construction and energy, but now the situation is improving. In the Republic of Bashkortostan, Vladimir and Kursk regions alone businesses received 500 million rubles when the Prosecutor General’s Office became involved.
At the same time, we also stood up for the interests of the state. Prosecutors stopped corruption practices and prevented execution of government contracts when budget limits were insufficient or customers put forward illegal terms. We filed regress suits against officials accountable for such actions, whose refusal to make timely payments to private businesses resulted in court rulings imposing penalties and fines on government bodies.
In Krasnodar Territory alone we filed seven lawsuits of this kind against officials for a total of 16 million rubles. This goes to show that we are committed to parity by protecting the interests of SMEs, as well as the state. Negligent officials will face fines.
In addition, 15 criminal investigations were launched against officials for abuse of office and negligence, and pre-investigation checks are underway in 17 cases. All in all, we have used the whole range of tools available to the Prosecutor General’s Office, which helped preserve jobs and keep people employed, prevent non-payment of salaries (26 billion rubles is a huge sum when it comes to overdue salaries), and also prevent uncollected taxes and duties from increasing, and companies from filing for bankruptcy, mostly among small and medium-sized businesses.
We continue to work, keeping up with the times. I will regularly report to you on our efforts, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Ok.