Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Nikolai Fyodorov, the President of the Republic of Chuvashia, invited me to Chuvashia a long time ago to see how social programmes are being carried out, what economic development is like, and what has been done in the republic in recent years. And we agreed that the main focus of our attention would be on the social development of the countryside. Here, in Chuvashia, there is something to show, and something for us, my colleagues and myself, to see. In fact, this is the main goal of our visit to the republic – to see how the programmes that are currently being implemented by the Federation are working in practice, how they are being realised together with the efforts of the regional authorities.
We have just visited a young family who recently, literally three months ago, moved into a new house, and we have seen how the regional library works. But to begin with I would like to say that almost a third of the country's population – 27 million people – live in the countryside. Incidentally, 41% of Chuvashia's population is rural, so for Chuvashia these problems are even more relevant.
Recently, of course, we have seen certain improvements in the economy (I say this very carefully – small improvements), but for the sake of fairness it should be said that these changes are happening slowest of all in the countryside. Because here the infrastructure is less developed. Here we face such problems as a lack of work places. Here we face real population problems – insufficient development of health and education.
The Russian Federation has adopted a programme for the social development of the countryside, but at the same time, regretfully, it can be stated that still not enough efforts are being made. This is above all linked to the necessity to concentrate our efforts.
Today all of this is scattered around 13 federal programmes. This departmental approach is still seen. And here, perhaps like in no other area, I repeat, we need to concentrate our efforts, administrative and financial resources, and we need to coordinate actions between the federal centre, the regions and municipalities. And I think that everyone here will agree with me – the main basis for solving problems of this kind is above all the development of the economy.
For this to become evident at the municipal level, and for people to feel positive changes, a great deal needs to be done in inter-budgetary relations. This is the aim of the entire package of laws that was passed by the last State Duma, and now regional governors, along with the Government and representatives of municipalities, should take the next step – to delimit financial and administrative powers.
We need to do everything to create a system for retraining workers in the countryside. We need to do all we can to remove – at least to remove – barriers towards the development of market relations in the countryside. And also to help those who live in the countryside, those who want to live in the countryside, and those who want their children to live in the countryside. To help solve vital problems linked with what I have already talked about – with the development of the social infrastructure: medicine, education, communications and roads.
This is what I wanted to talk to you about today. We have come in quite a representative group. Here is Agriculture Minister Alexei Vasilyevich Gordeyev, Deputy Prime Minister on Social Issues Galina Nikolayevna Karelova, the deputy minister of finance, and other people who deal with these problems at the federal level.
We would like to hear you, and I hope that our meeting today will have real results for organising federal policy in this area.