President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear colleagues!
Today we are considering the draft proposal ”A Strategy for Developing the Information Society in Russia“.
You know that countries that have invested in the development of information technology are now in the most advantageous position in terms of the global division of labour. They have benefited from substantial growth in productivity and better public administration. And the fact that it is now easier for citizens to access a full range of information services has been a major influence in the development of the human capital in these countries and their competitiveness. And, finally, the free exchange of ideas and information is an important factor in strengthening a country's democratic institutions and procedures.
You know that in recent years Russia has deliberately made efforts to increase the growth of the information economy and that of an information society more generally. Today we are now more competitive within the Russian information economy, as well as in the international one, and we have begun to marshall our resources and focus our efforts in these critical areas. For example, since 2002 the Electronic Russia programme has greatly expanded the use of modern IT-technologies in management.
Infrastructure links have also improved. There is a genuinely competitive market for long-distance communication. I would point out that by 2009 in Russia there will not be a single population settlement without telephone access, not a single one left. I hope that these plans will be carried out (until quite recently there were more than 40 thousand such settlements). I would also note that a quarter of Russian households already have computers. The number of internet users now exceeds 25 million. And by the end of 2007 all Russian schools should have broadband internet access. In addition, a significant breakthrough has been the development of distance technology in education, medicine and the arts.
I want to stress that the rapid growth in the telecommunications industry is a major resource for the development of the information society. As I recall, this sector is now growing at a rate significantly higher than average, about 20 percent a year. Among the various sectors of the Russian economy this is one of the best growth indicators. Special support mechanisms for developers and producers of domestic information technology are paying off as well. In the service sector, Russian companies and our Russian domestic producers already dominate.
I would like to highlight some of the fundamental features of the submitted draft proposal, A Strategy for Developing the Information Society in Russia. First, this document should serve as the basis for the development of concrete programmes, at both federal and local levels. Moreover, these programmes must address all areas, from the development and production of IT-technologies to their implementation. That said, regional programmes should be designed to take into account overall strategic directions.
Second, a modern strategy should focus primarily on major system tasks and projects. As an example let me offer [the project] I mentioned in my Address [to the Federal Assembly, that of a presidential library. As I said there, this library should be a major educational and information centre, in fact, the national information portal, and integrated into the global information space.
Third, the use of information technology should be a mandatory gauge for evaluating the effectiveness of ministries, regional authorities and local government bodies. To achieve this we must now establish objective performance indicators for the development and implementation of these technologies. Here we have to keep in mind issues that are most sensitive for people, such as the speed and quality of public services for citizens. In particular, how quickly paperwork is processed, how much time is spent on all kinds of details regarding the filing of tax returns, registering property, and so on.
I want to deal separately with the domestic IT industry. Most importantly, we must stimulate the creation of new, innovative enterprises through partnerships between government and the private sector and international cooperation. In this way we can address the question of import controls in parts of the IT industry. I want to point out that the imposition of import restrictions is not an end in itself. It generally isn't in economics. But in this sector, which involves direct access to certain aspects of our national security, it is justified. Of course, we should make more use of the possibilities afforded by special economic zones, technological parks, venture funds, and development institutions. And, finally, we must clearly define the priorities of both new research and the development of modern industries. I want to stress that we need to find new niches and specific areas, in order to achieve not just parity but real technological leadership. Software is one example. Here our specialists are traditionally considered to be among the best in the world. Again, it is right to focus on R & D and to link this with other research programmes. First and foremost, the development of nanotechnology, something that will clear the way for the creation of radically new hardware components. That said, I would ask that special attention be paid information security issues in the broadest sense. Of course globalisation not only offers us new opportunities, it also poses certain risks, and we must be ready to respond adequately to potential threats such as cyberterrorism, for example.
Dear colleagues! The development of the information society is a long-term structural challenge. The effort to achieve it brings into focus a number of problems, from the development of our economic competitiveness to the strengthening of our country's defense. We must therefore ensure that from now on all our projects are not only well thought out in advance but also are themselves advanced and forward-looking.
I am convinced that Russia today has all the capabilities to make it one of the leaders in the global information society by 2015. But achieving such a goal will obviously require a well-coordinated effort by the authorities, representatives of the private sector and civil society.
To this end, I think the Presidium Council for Science, Technology and Education should create a Commission to deal with the development of the information society. I would ask that the Council decide by the 1st of October 2007 who will sit on the Commission and determine the nature of its work.