President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Mishustin, good afternoon.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: How are you? Is everything fine?
Mikhail Mishustin: Everything is fine, Mr President. We are working.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Mishustin, on April 28, we discussed at a meeting with the leaders of the Russian regions a whole range of issues related to containing the coronavirus. And then, along with the development and implementation of our current measures, it was agreed that the Government would submit its proposals for the future – that it would start preparing a nationwide action plan to bring business life back to normal, to restore employment, people’s incomes and economic growth, of course.
It was then that I specifically pointed out that the strategic objective of the national action plan was not only to stabilise the country – which is certainly essential to move forward – but most importantly, to support individuals, enterprises, and businesses at the exit stage. This is important in itself, of course, but what is more – we have discussed this specifically – we need to achieve long-term structural change in the Russian economy, new dynamics in achieving the key national development goals, and our primary goal is certainly the well-being of the people, of Russian families.
Again, it is of fundamental importance to both address today's urgent problems and to ensure confident progress for the long term, while dealing with the detrimental impact of the coronavirus on all spheres including the global economy, international trade and even technological development.
There is increasing change in the world, and in order to respond to the new challenges, we need to act professionally and effectively, and make informed decisions. By the way, our coronavirus response effort is generally quite in line with what I am saying and our doctors deserve special appreciation and gratitude, and also the Government, which took timely action.
The draft action plan that I am talking about has been prepared; I received it from the Government yesterday. We discussed this on the telephone too. I have it here on my desk, and I read it before our meeting. Today, of course, I would like to personally speak with you on all these topics. I would like to ask you to tell us more about the main targets and priorities of this plan, and about the initiatives that the Government proposes implementing.
Please, Mr Mishustin, the floor is yours.
Mikhail Mishustin: Mr President,
In line with your instructions, the Government has prepared a draft national action plan to restore employment and people’s incomes, as well as to provide economic growth and other long-term structural changes. The plan’s main objective is to overcome the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and reach a sustainable growth of the GDP in order to gradually increase people’s incomes.
This task will be tackled using an entire range of measures in various areas, including the improvement of investment activity, the use of advanced technologies and digital technologies, the improvement of the quality of education, as well as prompt construction of quality housing. By the end of the recovery period, we are supposed to reach a sustainable long-term growth of the economy that will exceed the pre-crisis level, while real disposable incomes are supposed to grow consistently.
In order to overcome the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic and pursuant to your instructions, we have already taken a series of emergency anti-crisis measures. First of all, it included the support of the incomes of the people (both those working and those who lost their jobs) and families with children. We tried to lower the expenses of businesses in order to free up funds for paying wages; we provided deferrals on tax, social insurance payments, rent and loans, imposed a moratorium on inspections, extended licenses and permits, and provided subsidised loans for small and medium-sized businesses and backbone enterprises. The implementation of the special programmes to support industries that have suffered the most is also underway.
The social and business support measures have allowed for partly compensating the shrinking incomes of people, and for slowing down the unemployment growth.
There is no doubt that we should pay special attention to the risks related to unemployment. The shutdown of enterprises or reduced working hours and wages have aggravated the situation. All this can result in shrinking incomes, which means the reduction of purchasing power. Therefore, the action plan includes an active employment policy.
The national plan has three phases.
The task of the first phase is to stabilise the situation by the end of this year’s third quarter. The main thing we have to achieve during this period is to prevent a further drop in people’s incomes.
The second phase will last until the second quarter of 2021, and during this period, we will do everything necessary to complete the restoration of the economy, lower the level of unemployment and ensure the growth of people’s incomes to a level comparable with that of last year.
During the third and final phase – third and fourth quarters of 2021 – we hope to reach a sustainable long-term economic growth while reducing poverty and increasing the number of people with an income exceeding the subsistence rate. We will also do everything possible for the number of employees in small and medium-sized businesses to return to the pre-crisis level.
Mr President, the national plan includes about 500 events, and its implementation will cost some five trillion rubles over about two years.
Of course, the events of the last months have seriously affected the socioeconomic sphere in our country, including the implementation of the national projects. We believe that today they require certain adjustments, and during the next six weeks we will submit our proposals to the Council on Strategic Development and National Projects. If you approve, Mr President, we will be ready to begin the next budget cycle with the updated indicators. That is all.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Mr Mishustin, thank you for your report. Of course, while this document was being prepared, you and I stayed in touch and exchanged information and our vision of what must be done and how our goals must be achieved. However, it is true that the Government in general and our agencies have carried out substantial and important work and established a base. I believe this document can be used as a foundation.
At the same time – you are well aware of this – we have planned to continue the series of meetings on problems with specific industries. For example, you also know that tomorrow we will consider measures to support the light industry. Also we will soon be discussing key macroeconomic trends and issues related to budget planning. There are many questions here; it is clear that the situation calls for adjustments.
Considering the amount of work, I am asking you to make a final decision in the second half of June on the parameters of the action plan, especially since we agreed to continue working with the business associations. We always do this, but in this situation, cooperation is really necessary. All this needs to be done to launch specific actions from the beginning of July.
I am highlighting this, because a number of decisions already made to support individuals and businesses — you have just mentioned some — were planned for the second quarter, exactly. So it is imperative that this work continues without interruption, and that the economy, employment, and people’s incomes have effective support for a confident recovery in the second half of the year.
I would like to underscore yet again the fundamental importance of this action plan for bigger structural changes in the economy, for achieving a new quality of growth, I reiterate, that we are constantly talking about.
It is also obvious that the extraordinary situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak has had a serious impact on the implementation of our National Projects, so I also ask you to prepare proposals for adjustments to the projects. I ask you to do this as quickly as possible.
In general, I would like to repeat, a great amount of work has been done, and not only in terms of volume, but also in quality. Of course, this has laid a very good foundation for making final decisions. We will do so in the near future: I think we will need a couple of weeks, maybe a little more. We will keep in touch, and we will adjust the deadlines for the final adoption of these decisions.
Thank you very much.
Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you.