President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We usually begin such meetings with words of gratitude and congratulations. This one will be no exception. I would like to thank you for our joint work this year – you and your staff, your deputies, staff of the Government Executive Office and the offices of relevant agencies and ministries.
This year was not easy, but as we use to say, we can hardly remember an easy one. Overall, the Government is effectively tackling the challenges that the economy and our country as a whole have to deal with.
The Government bears great responsibility. We have seen during the past months how turbulent the global economy is and how this affects us. I would like to reiterate something we all know – that the difficulties we have come across are not only of an external type. They are not only due to some sanctions or limitations caused by the global market situation – they are also the result of our own shortcomings that have piled up over the years.
This is what we have inherited historically. However, we have been making efforts to change the structure of our economy, to refine it and make it more innovative. Quite a lot has been done in this direction. However, recent events show that this is not enough.
Therefore, I would like to ask you to focus on the main areas. These, of course, have to do with our social commitments and maintaining the national currency exchange rate. This is primarily a job for the Central Bank, however without adequate coordination with the financial and economic blocs in the Government the Central Bank will hardly be efficient.
Apart from these comprehensive and sensitive issues, we have to ensure the functioning of our vital infrastructure: transportation, communication, power sector – especially during the holidays and in winter.
I know you have everything under control. All these things concern millions of our citizens and are the direct responsibility of the Government. The responsibility, as I have said, is great. So far, you have managed to overcome all the challenges and find adequate solutions. I hope you will continue to do so in the short term as well.
Why am I speaking of the short term? Because this is holiday season, which is a long period in our country, and people have the right to relax: the depressing autumn and winter period is quite long here and people could certainly use some extra holiday time. However, the Government and its various structures cannot afford such extensive holidays, at least not this year. You know what I am talking about. We have met recently, the media are here now and they will be broadcasting everything and making comments. However, we meet without media coverage as well. Thus, two days ago we met with the entire economic bloc, with the people who are responsible for the economy, for social issues, and it was without any cameras. After our meeting, there will be another meeting.
We know what we are talking about, what targets we have to reach. We have to coordinate the work of all ministries and agencies, and coordinate them with the Presidential Executive Office, with the Central Bank, and keep everything under control.
If necessary, though some may not like it, but in this case, it makes sense, we have to assume a ‘hands-on’ approach. In this situation, there is nothing shameful about it.
There is something I would like to draw your attention to. Many of those present know that we have gone through hard times in 2008 and 2009: at that time we operated by sectors. Today I would like to ask you to use this approach again, so it is clear who is responsible for what, and what the situation is like at major strategic facilities, how it affects employment, how social issues are being resolved at enterprises and what is going on at single-industry towns. All this needs to find reflection in corresponding action plans that have to be very detailed with a precise indication of the individuals responsible.
We will discuss this in greater detail at our operational meeting, while now I would like to say in conclusion that overall I find the Government’s work quite satisfactory, meeting the present-day requirements, and I hope this will be the same in the short term.
I would like to thank you once again for our joint work during the year and wish you a happy New Year!
Thank you very much.