Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov – the signing of an agreement between trade unions, employers and the Government
Alexander Zhukov: Last week a general agreement was signed between the national trade organisations, employers and the Government. This is essentially an instrument of social cooperation. It sets out all the basic principles for work and economic relations over the next three years, from 2008 to 2010.
The main purpose of the agreement is carrying out the country’s socio-economic policy, which will ensure the citizens' right to decent work, improving the quality of life of workers and their families and reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth and stable employment.
It should be noted that, for the first time, this agreement was unanimously approved by the various parties to it. All the previous disagreements were with the unions, particularly concerning the issue of wages. At that time there was a dispute between the unions and employers concerning how quickly the minimum wage can become more than a mere subsistence income. The question is when this should take place.
It was agreed that in the spring of next year (taking into a account a very substantial improvement in the autumn of this year) the results would be analysed in terms of the impact on regional budgets, primarily on the socio-economic development of the regions, and then it would allow to determine the possibility of raising the minimum wage to a living wage more rapidly than the government had previously anticipated. According to our previous estimates, this could be achieved in 2010. Now, given the way things are developing, it could be done sooner.
President Vladimir Putin: Good. I hope that in the future these very sensitive issues can be decided in the same way, through very close contact with the unions.
Minister of Regional Development Dmitrii Kozak concerning preparations for the 2012 APEC [Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation] summit in Vladivostok
Dimitrii Kozak: Today there is a meeting of the organizing committee for the development of Vladivostok as a centre for Asia-Pacific cooperation. On 21 November, when the policy decision was taken on the places that will host the summit, on the infrastructure in Vladivostok, we adopted a roadmap for everyone involved in the planning and construction of the event. We have worked out a schedule for literally every of the 71 undertakings. This plan will be executed in real time, in accordance with the approved scheme.
The task of town planning for the sites, which in our view is the key challenge, was prepared and reviewed in an inter-agency operational headquarters put together by the Ministry of Regional Development. We must approve it at today’s meeting of the organizing committee. From there work will proceed on the technical specifications required by all contract holders concerning the design of specific facilities. To date, we are fairly confident that we will be able to build all the different facilities required for the summit, with the exception of one quite complicated case, on time.
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov concerning the implementation of the next phase of the GLONASS [Global Navigation Satellite Systems] programme
Sergei Ivanov: Tomorrow afternoon at Baikonur [Space Launch Centre] the Proton-M rocket will be launched. And there will be on board the Proton-M three GLONASS spacecraft. This will raise to 18 the number of GLONASS spacecraft in orbit, which will enable us to cover the entire territory of the Russian Federation by the end of this year.
As a result of updates to the federal targets for the GLONASS programme, by 2010 we have to have 24 in-orbit spacecraft. And already in 2008–2009 the spacecraft will be a new generation, with a life expectancy in orbit of from 7 to 10 years. This will make the whole programme cheaper. This is how this mission will be carried out.
Now we are involved not so much in outer space alignments but rather in the creation of ground systems for the reception and distribution of the signals. And, as you remember, during your visit to the Lavochkina plant you were shown consumer equipment. At the end of this year, that is literally this week, the first devices that can be used in road transport will be in hardware stores. Working with private business, and we are now engaged directly in expanding the development of commercial production equipment, the so-called blackberries
Vladimir Putin: When can I buy a device to put on my dog Koni to keep him from wandering off?
Sergei Ivanov: We can produce collars for dogs and cats and sell them to commercial consumers in the middle of 2008.
Vladimir Putin: And for our state-owned companies: transportation, rail?
Sergei Ivanov: They’re already available.
Vladimir Putin: Shipowners?
Sergei Ivanov: We have already produced such equipment, including for the Ministry of Defence.
Vladimir Putin: Road transport?
Sergei Ivanov: Already done.
Vladimir Putin: Do we have a programme to create the conditions for the acquisition of equipment, and to ensure that this service is available to all economic actors?
Sergei Ivanov: With regard to state customers, the Ministry of Defence, transport, ships, aircraft — in accordance with your decree, everything has been mapped out and already provided. With regard to commercial users, in my view there can only be one criterion: the competitiveness of the equipment. It should not exceed the price of similar receivers in the GPS system, all the more so because our receivers are capable of picking up GLONASS, GPS, and the European system Galileo as well. In this way they will be profitable in terms of positioning accuracy, because they will be based not on a single system, like the American GPS, but on two and potentially three at once.
First Deputy Minister Dmitrii Medvedev concerning the implementation of the President's appeal for funds to restore the Saint Genevieve des Bois cemetery
Dimitrii Medvedev: In October of this year, you issued an order allocating money for the restoration of the Saint Genevieve des Bois cemetery in Paris, France. The Government took this decision on 20 December and allocated the money to rebuild and renovate the cemetery. For the first time in many decades, this unique monument, which formed as a result of the dramatic events of the twentieth century, will be restored. We ourselves will now take care of it because so many well known Russian figures are buried there: people like Bunin, Merezhkovsky, Korovin, Tarkovsky, and many others.
There is a special decree concerning delegations of the Ministry of Defence and Military Memorial work abroad. Budgetary funds have been allocated to organize the work. It will be improved in two ways: through international agreements that have already been concluded with a number of states, and through the work that the Ministry of Defence has already undertaken. Special delegations will be established for these purposes. The situation is really very complicated. I visited Port Arthur in China and I saw how our Chinese friends had helped maintain Soviet graves, but graves left over from the time of the fighting for Port Arthur are in a very dilapidated state. And we need to take action to restore them.
Minister of Economic Development and Trade Elvira Nabiullina concerning the results of international assessments of the volume of the world’s economies
Elvira Nabiullina: The final results of international comparisons of the world’s economies have been published. These are global studies, which this year included 146 countries and territories worldwide. These data are interesting because they are calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity, that is, distinct from official exchange rates and domestic price structure. According to the data for 2005, Russia was in eighth place. The volume of GDP at purchasing power parity is one trillion seven hundred billion dollars.
Vladimir Putin: This means that we have gone up a place?
ElVIRA NABIULLINA: Yes. The United States is in first place, followed by China, Japan, Germany, India, Britain, France and, after us in the top ten, come Italy and Brazil. And we estimate that if we are able to maintain a high rate of growth, 6 or 7 per cent until 2020, then we will be in the top five. This is the goal we have set ourselves. Moreover, using PPP to calculate GDP per capita we were in 51st place. Raising the level of GDP per capita in purchasing power parity is a huge challenge for us. Now it’s 11861 dollars; the goal that we have set ourselves for 2020 is 30,000 dollars.
Vladimir Putin: Good. In order to deal with these issues on schedule, we need to work effectively with Parliament. Today an important event in the political life of the country occurred. The State Duma began its fifth session. At this time I want to use the media to address the deputies and congratulate them on the start of their work. I hope that the Government of the Russian Federation will continue to be as active in this joint effort as it has been to this point. All the legislation that has been previously announced and prepared must be quickly implemented through hard work. There is a very large, important and sensitive programme in the social sphere.
This work is critical. The welfare of our citizens, particularly those who get their income not from business but from wages, depends on how competently, efficiently and carefully we deal with these issues. This is what the budget will determine.
Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov – the first meeting of the State Duma
Viktor Zubkov: The deputies were in a good mood. One could feel this in the hall and in the statements of [Vice President of the Russian Academy of Science] Zhores Alfyorov. I talked about the legislation we have prepared, mostly relating to the social sphere, and told the Government to work as closely with this Duma as it did with the previous one.
Vladimir Putin: Did Zhores Ivanovich focus on specific issues?
Viktor Zubkov: He drew attention to the fact that we need to spend more on science, education and national projects.
Vladimir Putin: Really. As far as I know, Zhores Ivanovich was elected as a member of the Communist Party. And if a deputy of the Communist Party calls for more money to be spent on national projects, this obviously means that those who have voted communist up to now will be voting in the presidential election for our candidate, Dimitrii Medvedev. As everybody knows, he is in charge of implementing national projects. How things will actually go, we’ll see.