President Vladimir Putin:
Good afternoon, dear colleagues,
Our previous meeting was about a year ago, when we talked about priorities in the legislative sphere. Many things have been done, but many others are still being worked upon.
I would like to point to the growing activity of both chambers of parliament in work on an entire series of legislative acts that have obviously improved the Russian Federation’s legal field. They have strengthened our country’s legality.
Today, we shall discuss how to effectively implement the main points of the 2005 Address. I saw the audience’s reaction and talked to many of you about various aspects of this Address. You probably know that I signed and sent instructions on its implementation to the government on May 10, although even prior to this day, the government had discussed the document and adopted its decisions. This is why I have invited Alexander Zhukov today so we could talk about all these problems with the deputy prime minister.
Naturally, the government will play a very important role in implementing the Address, but we will not manage to accomplish these objectives without the Federal Assembly, without both chambers of the Federal Assembly.
I would like to remind you once more today that the Addresses in the last two years must be viewed as a single, long-term programme. As I have already said, some of the objectives set in the previous Address have already been accomplished, while others are being implemented.
However, I would like to return to this once more: doubling gross domestic product, eliminating poverty and modernising the army are strategic priorities for the country’s development. They cannot be achieved in quarterly or even annual programmes. They demand comprehensive, gradual solutions, and constant attention from all branches of power – legislative, executive and judicial – because the judicial system tackles essential tasks when it comes to solving those problems that the country faces and that we designate as our strategic priorities.
Obviously, there exist different views in society regarding the country’s future, the ways how to solve specific socio-economic problems. This is absolutely normal and natural. I would like to note one more time that we meet with the colleagues who are here today on a regular basis, more or les often, but still regularly. I hear and know your opinions on these or that problems. I think that this is normal and natural that we have different views, which is how things should be in any democratic society. Nevertheless, we need to ensure that we take account of constructive ideas and proposals when drafting strategy and in state bodies’ practical work.
At the same time, maintaining Russia’s integrity and sovereignty, development of democracy, economic growth and protection of human rights, and achieving on this basis greater prosperity for the people, are objectives that are shared by all social and political actors. And on this basis we can and obviously must ensure the consolidation of society, and find satisfactory solutions that are effective and acceptable for the main political forces.
I suggest that we pay particular attention to the following priorities.
Creating necessary conditions for investment. Above all, I think, we need to talk about the need to make internal investment reliable and attractive. Market, administrational, and legislative mechanisms and incentives are essential for this. You probably remember the proposals that have been made in this sphere. Today, I would like to talk to you about this in more detail, because this is a delicate and sensitive sphere for the public.
In the next three years, we plan to increase public sector workers’ wages by at least 50%. I would like to tell you that the increase in public sector wages is one of our priorities. The average public sector wage today does not exceed 70% of the country average, while indexed earnings are often consumed by inflation. If the economy’s resources allow, we should, of course, not confine our efforts to the plank mentioned in the Address: to increase wages by 50% in real terms. If the resources allow, this increase should be higher.
When I speak about real increase, you know what I am talking about, a real increase that compensates for inflation. I would like to say that I have only just talked about this issue with the prime minister, with Alexander Zhukov present here, and he knows in what terms we are discussing the wage increase. This should be accomplished regardless of the situation on the global markets.
The third area that needs our attention is enhancing the authority of parliamentary political parties and the representative branch in general. I am convinced that this objective can and must be achieved within the framework of the current state structure.
In particular, we should provide a legal basis for parliamentary investigations. I have mentioned it, and members of the State Duma and the Federation Council seemed to agree. I would like to discuss it in more detail with you today.
The same is true about the details of the new procedure for appointing governors in the Russian Federation. One of the candidates to the post, as I have said, could be a representative of the party that won the regional elections. This can increase the authority of parties in society, make personnel issues an issue of public politics, and help coordinate the work of local authorities.
Since this issue directly affects the interests of the regions, the State Council will of course, discuss it. But today I’d like to hear your opinions.
I believe you have your own opinion on the civil control over the mass media. We will certainly work this out with state-owned media representatives and orient them to, as I said, providing equal access for political forces to state-run media at least. I would also like to discuss with you another idea that was mentioned in the Address. It concerns setting up a special commission in the Public Council which would help provide real independence and more unbiased media coverage of public life in the country.
The ideas and tasks laid down in the Address are our common program of action. We have already accumulated positive experience of interaction and cooperation. I also expect it to help us in our present and future efforts based on discussions and the need to respect all opinions and viewpoints, and search for solutions together.
I hope our meeting today will also help us advance towards the goals which, as I have mentioned it at the beginning, have been formulated and, I believe, are shared by everyone.
Let’s talk about it in more detail.