President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kuyvashev, I have the traditional questions for you: the socioeconomic situation, healthcare, housing and utilities and rundown housing.
Sverdlovsk Region Acting Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev: Mr President,
To begin with, I would like to welcome you in our region. We are grateful for your assistance to the region and the INNOPROM Industrial Trade Fair, which is traditionally held in July.
Indeed, Sverdlovsk Region was among the top 10 Russian regions in terms of basic socioeconomic indicators in 2016, partly thanks to INNOPROM.
Regarding the implementation of the Presidential Executive Orders of May 2012, this is a priority for the government agencies. All our roadmaps are focused on increasing wages in the public sector, and we are working to implement them.
(Governor Kuyvashev updated the President on capital repair of local housing, the construction of new housing and the relocation of people from obsolete and dilapidated housing.)
Speaking about the development of our economy and industries, I would like to say that industrial production in the region increased by nearly 5 percent in 2016 compared to the year before, and that we have attracted 1.8 trillion rubles’ worth of investment over the past five years.
We have implemented over 30 large investment projects to upgrade and build new facilities in the past five years. Another seven large projects are underway.
We consider the results of each INNOPROM fair. I would like to say that since 2015, when we held a joint exhibition with China, our foreign trade has almost tripled. After we held the fair jointly with India in 2016, our foreign trade increased by almost 50 percent.
Of course, a solid economy and available funds are the key conditions for implementing your instructions and meeting the goals you set for us, including those in the social sphere. This is what we focus on, and this year’s INNOPROM fair, which is being held jointly with our Japanese partners, promises to lead to major projects that will create new jobs and bring revenue to the region.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Kuyvashev, you were correct in saying that paying salaries to public sector employees on time is a positive. You have mentioned capital repairs, and we have discussed healthcare development. There is, however, one thing I wanted to point out.
You have probably heard already that the Presidential Executive Office is currently analysing questions received during the Direct Line. There were quite a few questions from the Sverdlovsk Region and Yekaterinburg. I will pass these questions on to you, and ask that you take up these issues personally. To be honest, some of the things people wrote in their questions were quite surprising.
You spoke about the need to pay salaries to public sector employees on time and in keeping with the 2012 Executive Order. However, people are telling us that in many cases salaries are not paid at all or are delayed.
Here is one of the appeals we received from the Nizhny Tagil Heat Insulating Plant. Of course, statements like this have to be confirmed, since you cannot take them for granted. Nevertheless, if this is the way things really are, it sounds disturbing. It has been reported that the plant owner told his staff, “You will not get anything until the President asks me to pay you.” Salaries have not been paid there for quite a while.
First, we need to know whether the report is true, and if so, how can people be treated so badly. You will look into this yourself, but I think that it may not be enough, so I will also ask the Office of the Prosecutor General, not the local Prosecutor’s Office, to look into it. Maybe nothing happened, I do not know, but we have to understand what is really going on.
There were also questions from Yekaterinburg related to the streets that people visiting the city during the FIFA World Cup are likely to use. It is alleged that people are required to pay for exterior repairs and facelifts along these streets. We have to get to the bottom of this, understand the ownership structure, why people get requests like this, even if they own the property. We have to understand whether these demands are legal. And you will also need to talk to the mayor. Who is the mayor?
Yevgeny Kuyvashev: Alexander Yakob heads the city Administration.
Vladimir Putin: You have to talk to him, and sort things out.
There is also the city of Irbit, the so-called motorcycle capital of Russia. The sewage treatment facilities are out of service, which is a serious issue. Environmental protection experts are sounding the alarm, but this is not just about environmental activists, but also about the people. There is great urgency to resolve this issue.
There was also a healthcare-related issue. People are unable to get subsidised medication on a regular basis, and municipal entities operate as for-profit institutions. This was never part of the deal. What is going on?
Of course, the volume of paid services offered by municipal healthcare institutions may increase, but they should not be imposed by cutting down on the services offered free to patients. Thirdly, municipal healthcare facilities are municipal property, which means that what we are dealing with here is covert privatisation, if they are operating like private clinics. I ask you to look into this issue.
As for the lack of professionals, this is a common issue for the country. You need to work closely with the Healthcare Ministry, which I hope will yield tangible results. That said, the message we received is very disturbing. Let me read it to you: “Things were never as bad as this before.”
We have become used to thinking in large quantities, and it is true that if we look at healthcare development in broad terms, there is good progress. There is a lot of objective data to back this conclusion, including longer life expectancy, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, and many other positive indicators. However, behind these generalised indicators people still face specific challenges. Please, pay attention to this. Is this agreed?
Yevgeny Kuyvashev: I will personally look into every case you mentioned.
Vladimir Putin: I pass this on to you, and will be expecting to hear back from you.
There is also some pleasant news. Following up on your request, today I will sign the Executive Order on the celebration of 300years since the foundation of Nizhny Tagil.
Yevgeny Kuyvashev: Thank you very much.