President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
Can all of you see and hear me?
I am very glad to see all of you. Regrettably, we cannot invite everyone to our meeting, all those who are involved in charity and volunteering.
You know, I simply wanted to meet with at least those who could be here and, welcome and thank everyone, represented by you, as they say in such cases, all those who listened to their heart and responded to the problems facing people.
I would like to start our meeting with words of sincere gratitude to everyone who is now helping people. I am referring to volunteers, employees of non-profit organisations, entrepreneurs, cultural figures, athletes and journalists, in general, all those who did not stay on the sidelines in these difficult days, who showed generosity and sometimes even civic heroism, without any exaggeration.
Russia has always had a reputation for its generous and bold people. An exploit and selfless devotion to a cause are synonymous here.
We have always, in all historical eras, dealt with adversity all together, by pooling our efforts. This is a tradition of our people. It is in their bones, their genetic and cultural codes.
Now we are again together. You are proving this by your selfless work, your readiness to respond to pain and take care of those who need help, to respond to the problems of other people, to be where people are waiting for you and need your help.
Volunteers and socially oriented NGOs have united and backed the state and society. They are working in medical and social facilities, helping the elderly and people with disabilities to purchase medications and food. Let me repeat that you are where help is needed. This is the main thing.
I would like to ask participants in our meeting to tell us about their work. I am convinced that you have much to be proud of, and your example is bound to inspire others. And, of course, I would like to hear about the problems you are facing, what help and support your need yourselves.
I would be glad to hear what you think about the current situation and how all of us should move forward in your opinion in order to overcome the difficulties we are facing.
Vladimir Putin: In conclusion, friends and colleagues, I would like to say a few words.
I have just spoken about this, and I would like to repeat it. Here we have many people in different Russian regions, in populated areas, large cities and villages. But, of course, these are not all who work as volunteer in the broadest sense of this word.
We do not know their first or last names. Nobody knows them. But they do this from their hearts. This is what is most valuable. I would like to emphasise that this is in our blood, in the genetic code of our people. During this trying time, everyone is showing who they really are and what they can do.
I will be honest: countering the coronavirus has become a real test of humanity, compassion and mutual help for us all.
We have proven that we are together. We are a united country. We share common values that our ancestors passed on to us. People, their lives, health and future prevail. Your selfless work is the main proof of this. It commands pride and endless respect. I am saying this without exaggeration.
Volunteers and employees of NGOs are doing a very good job as a powerful, creative and life-affirming force. You have taken on a colossal scope of tasks.
I would like to tell the heads of regions and municipalities that volunteers and NGOs are our most reliable, like-minded partners. They must receive all the necessary assistance. And not just now, in these extraordinary conditions, but always, in any situation, because solving today’s and even long-term problems Russia is facing largely depends on volunteers and people who work at NGOs, on their energy and civic initiatives. We always need your labour, energy and kindness, friends, always. Thank you very much once again.
As we agreed, we will do everything necessary to preserve your staff and help those who work in difficult conditions. And, of course, we will create stable long-term conditions for your activities, for your expanding involvement in the country’s life.
Now let us focus on the specific decisions following today’s meeting based on the proposals made.
First, I think it is necessary to grant socially oriented NGOs additional support similar to that already adopted for small and medium-size companies hit by the consequences of the coronavirus. I already said this today but would like to emphasise it at the end of our meeting.
These measures include a six-month suspension of payments of taxes and social fund insurance premiums and deferred lease payments for state and municipal property in line with the earlier adopted decision. I will emphasise once again, six months later the accumulated debt payments may be made gradually, in installments, not in a lump sum.
I am instructing the Government to determine clear-cut, understandable criteria for supporting NGOs.
Second, the Government will provide direct assistance to small and medium-size companies hit by the epidemic. This is designed to maintain salaries for April and May in the amount of one minimum monthly wage of 12,130 rubles per employee. Let me recall that payments for April will come on May 18 and for May on June 18. Of course, it would be better to do this sooner but such are the administrative procedures.
It is necessary to establish such a mechanism for socially oriented NGOs as well. However, considering the peculiarities of their work, it would not be good to just copy the existing pattern. I am instructing the Government to suggest a simple, understandable and most importantly, convenient mechanism for the direct financial support for NGOs to pay salaries. An easy loan programme for NGOs for partial payment of salaries should follow the same logic.
I would like to emphasise that all support measures must primarily be granted to NGOs that have already shown their value as reliable partners to the state and to society. I am referring to winners of competitions held by the Presidential Grants Foundation, the relevant funds of ministries and agencies, as well as by regions and municipalities.
Third. To the regional governors: you need to maintain the scope of social service purchases from NGOs. All financial commitments under contracts with NGOs that provide social services must be met on a monthly basis. There can be no delay in this respect.
Fourth. Today I have already said that many private companies and companies with state participation are providing significant charitable aid in the fight against the coronavirus. I hope that more and more representatives of the business community will be actively involved in such initiatives. And of course, we should support entrepreneurs who consider charity to be a matter of their heart and soul. And they do it when they are also going through difficult times. This was also said today.
Which is why the following decision has already been made. When calculating income tax, the expenses of companies related to the purchase of products and goods that are donated to those in need may be deducted. I ask the Government to expedite as much as possible the submission of the corresponding draft law to the State Duma, and I ask the deputies for their support, as well as to propose other additional benefits for organisations that help the volunteer movement and socially oriented non-profits.
Fifth. It is necessary to provide targeted support to socially oriented and charitable organisations that are actively involved in the fight against the coronavirus.
I believe that this can be done through the Presidential Grants Foundation. I propose to allocate an additional 3 billion rubles from the Presidential Reserve Fund to implement the special programme, including mandatory funds for the purchase of personal protective equipment for employees and volunteers of non-profits.
Sixth. We should support volunteers who work in high-risk environments. I instruct the Government, together with the Association of Volunteer Centres, together with businesses, to work out proposals for additional support for volunteers in the current difficult conditions.
And finally, seventh, which is very important. For the duration of the fight against the epidemic, I consider it necessary to provide additional material incentives for employees of social institutions (something that our colleagues have just spoken about here) that are home to people with disabilities, elderly people, and other citizens who need special care. I ask the Government to determine as quickly as possible the procedure for such payments and their parameters, taking into account the special working conditions and additional workload on these people, including working directly with people who have the coronavirus.
I also propose to begin making payments to employees of socially oriented non-profit organisations, who during the epidemic take temporary guardianship of elderly and disabled people from social institutions. Our colleagues spoke about this today as well. I propose to offer such incentive pay for two months in the amount of the minimal wage or higher, and to take into account the number of citizens taken under temporary guardianship.
My dear friends, always, under any circumstances, in all situations, we must remain human, help each other, and show solidarity. This is the only way we can bear any burden, overcome any challenge and do the work before us. We will certainly do so, because we are together.
I wish you success. Take care of yourself.