President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
It is a pleasure to welcome you to this traditional meeting with the State Duma’s leadership.
This latest long-running electoral marathon has ended with the election of the new President of the Russian Federation. The country’s highest bodies of power have undergone a substantial renewal. Now it is important to set a good pace of work in measure with the scale and significance of the tasks before the country.
The urgent need to address specific social and economic issues requires the executive and legislative authorities to continue working together. Moreover, I would also very much like to see the parliamentary factions come up with new initiatives and proposals – your own initiatives – on different areas for cooperation.
Above all, we need to draft a clear plan for lawmaking work over the coming period, and this must be done as soon as possible. The emphasis should be on passing the laws needed for implementing Russia’s long-term economic development plan through to 2020, which I spoke about at the expanded session of the State Council. Each of the plan’s different areas requires the drafting of a whole package of laws. The Government is already actively at work preparing all of these documents and working them through. I ask you to start on this work right from the spring session and start working together with the Government right away, putting these documents through preliminary readings, as you did so together in the past with other laws.
Encouraging innovative economic development is an area that needs particular attention. We have already said how important it is to take into account the experience gained through the priority national projects (I hope that Dmitry Anatolyevich [Medvedev] will speak in more detail about this today, as it was he who was in charge of this work, as you know). We need to take this experience into account in our overall work to modernise the economy.
During the spring session we also need to make the necessary amendments to laws related to the development of mass low-rise housing construction. We need in general to give this matter greater attention.
The construction sector is growing rapidly today – it has increased by 12 percent, 15 percent over the last years, and now by 20 percent, while housing construction has posted an even higher result of 25 percent – and this is something we need to make use of in order to resolve this problem that has continually plagued Russia. We have every chance of being able to achieve this over the coming years. It will take more than just two or three years, of course, but we can effectively resolve this problem in the coming years, address it more effectively than has ever been the case in the past.
I want to draw your particular attention to the fact that the different vectors of social sector modernisation must be interlinked and should all result in the formation of a new and higher standard of social development policy.
One of our key tasks is to pass a package of laws improving the tax system and reducing the tax burden on expenditure in education, healthcare and pension insurance.
We also need to introduce accelerated procedures for depreciation deductions and for incentives to develop processing and refinery of natural resources. These additional provisions and amendments should come into force starting from next year. It would be very good to have all of these new provisions start working as from January 1, 2009.
Another item on the agenda is passing a law on co-financing of voluntary pension savings. The practical mechanisms for this system have already received approval. For our citizens to be able to start making use of this system this year, we need to amend and add to the existing federal laws as soon as possible.
Boris Vyacheslavovich [Gryzlov], you already have the draft law?
Boris Gryzlov: It is currently in the first reading. We are discussing amendments to the second reading at the moment: there is plenty to debate. We have not reached a consensus yet, but I think that we will be ready to put it through the second reading in April.
Vladimir Putin: There are various points of view, of course, but we cannot debate forever. We need to reach some kind of decision. You need to look at how these savings can be used to help resolve the demographic problem, how they can be used as an incentive for women in this area, and this perhaps calls for some additional preferential provisions. Perhaps the maternity capital could be used here, but under preferential conditions. All of this needs reflection, but at some point we also have to move on to action.
In some business areas we need to make a bolder move from permit-based to notification-based procedures. Practice in the majority of economically-developed countries shows that this approach is a big support above all for people who want to try their hand in small business, and these are precisely the people who will help us to achieve our strategic goal of establishing an extensive middle class in the country. This is a crucial issue and I would like to hear your views on it, of course.
Another crucial issue is that of anti-corruption laws. We need to complete the work on draft laws to make the work of the courts and the bodies of state power more transparent, and thus better protect our citizens from potential abuses.
The national plan for combating corruption will also require a package of relevant legislation to be drafted, and I hope that the structures set up for this task will draw up these laws.
Colleagues, these are just a few of the issues that we need to address during the spring session. I have no doubt that the traditions of constructive cooperation between the different branches of power will only grow stronger and that you will continue to work competently and productively for the good of Russia and its people through the united efforts of the executive and legislative branches.
Thank you for your attention. I give the floor to Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev.
Dmitry Medvedev: Vladimir Vladimirovich, colleagues, I would like to say a few words.
I think that meetings such as this are exceptionally important. After all, the parliamentary parties play the main part in work to develop the social and economic mechanisms in the country overall and form the country’s legal landscape, as you know well.
Your ideas and initiatives form the foundation for this work and their results are reflected objectively in consultations such as this today and in the lawmaking process.
I intend in my new office to engage in regular and constructive dialogue with all of the healthy political forces in our society and with the leading institutions of our civil society. I want to continue holding meetings such as this today. I plan to hold such meetings regularly and I think that the executive authorities should pay constant and close attention to all of your proposals. Only in this way can we ensure an ongoing and productive dialogue.
Work is underway today on establishing the general principles for the future shape of our executive power system. I am working together with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] on this. This work goes hand in hand, of course, with the work on the proposals and laws addressing the matters of greatest importance for our country, which the President spoke about just now. I refer here to the national development strategy through to 2020 and the development programme for the coming four years.
We have indeed already built up certain experience, including through the national projects that Vladimir Vladimirovich mentioned just now. I remind you that when we began this work we identified four main areas that were in a particularly difficult situation, and we began our work accordingly, focusing on those areas we had identified as our priorities.
What was new in this approach? What was new was that we established new procedures for managing and financing this work, and this has produced some good results. Furthermore, our work has also produced experimental and pilot proposals for modernisation in these areas. This is probably one of the most important results of the work on the national projects over these last two years. Yes, it is a good thing, of course, that financing has been increased and that some results have already been obtained, but most important of all is that we have established a new configuration for work in the healthcare and education sectors. We have a separate rural development programme underway in the countryside today. As for the housing sector, as the President said just now, this is an issue that will require serious efforts by the state and society over the years to come.
The priority today is to bring about genuine modernisation in these sectors, above all in education and healthcare, taking into account the results already obtained over this last period.
It is also extremely important to increase financing for projects in agriculture and the housing sector.
In accordance with the existing agreement, preparations are in process for a separate meeting of the State Council’s Presidium in line with the powers provisionally transferred to me by the President.
The upcoming State Council Presidium meeting will be devoted to small business. There are a huge number of problems in this area. I met recently with small business representatives and they all complain about the huge number of rules and regulations, which, despite the adoption of a framework law for supporting small business, have still not been put into order. These rules and regulations continue to suffocate small business and our task is to finally put them all in order. Numerous rules and regulations have been passed over these last seventeen years and we need to make a thorough cleanup now in order to be able to introduce genuine notification-based procedures for regulating small business in our country. This is completely in keeping with the goal the President outlined in the programme address on the country’s development through to 2020, namely, support for our country’s middle class and help in forming its foundation.
It is eminently clear that the main task for the State Duma and Federation Council, for the Federal Assembly overall, is to prepare the legal framework for our country’s development and to improve the country’s laws.
Our laws are considerably better now than they were in the early- or mid-1990s. They are now the laws of a developed state, but this does not mean that your work will become any easier and that the State Duma will have fewer issues to deal with. I am very well aware of the difficulties involved in your work – aware at the professional level – and I will do everything I can to support you in your work and am ready to hold regular consultations on all issues related to the lawmaking activity the parliamentary parties are carrying out in the State Duma.
Vladimir Putin: Returning to what I said at the beginning, I ask you to make a critical examination of what we need to be doing over this coming period and not just wait for proposals from the Government but get involved in this work right away.
I mentioned the possibility of using the maternity capital. At the moment, the maternity capital can be used for several purposes: women can put it towards their children’s education, their own pension savings, or housing. At the moment we have a private pension savings system whereby the state contributes one rouble for every rouble contributed by the individual. If we made use of the maternity capital, for every rouble women put towards their pension, the state could contribute two roubles. This would encourage the use of the resources obtained within the framework of the maternity capital programme. Other options are also possible. This is something we need to start looking at right now.