Taking part in the meeting were Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, Acting Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Governor of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, presidential plenipotentiary envoys to the federal districts, Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare – Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Russian Federation Anna Popova, Head of the Federal Taxation Service Daniil Yegorov, and the heads of 85 constituent entities of the Russian Federation.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon,
We have the heads of all regions and federal agencies connected.
Today we will discuss the principles we will follow in our joint work during the upcoming, extremely important period of the gradual, phased relaxing of restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic.
As a reminder, by today, all the regions were to have drafted their respective plans based on the recommendations from the Government, Rospotrebnadzor and the State Council working group.
As we agreed, your plans must take into account the real situation on the ground, ensure strict requirements for safety, the protection of people’s health and lives, and must be based on the verified assessments of the level and degree of the potential threat. The final say rests with the doctors and specialists.
Their opinions were taken into account in the Executive Order I signed today. It will be the legal basis for continuing the cooperation between the federal authorities, the regions and the municipalities in countering the coronavirus epidemic.
You are aware of my position, it hasn’t changed. The key priority for us is people’s lives, health and safety.
The period of non-working days announced earlier expires today, May 11. Overall, it lasted for more than six weeks, beginning March 30.
This extraordinary measure enabled us to slow the epidemic, giving us the time we needed to substantially improve readiness of the entire healthcare system in case the epidemiological situation took a turn for the worse.
The number of specialised hospital beds equipped for treating severe cases was increased from 29,000 to 130,000, and we have built up equipment and supplies reserves, including a reserve capacity of ventilators, which has critical importance for us. Thank God, of course, that so far we have had to use only a small fraction of this stand-by capacity.
What matters the most is that every region is ready and has everything it needs to help people that might suffer from severe complications, and offer them specialised medical services, including intensive care. Let me emphasise that almost everyone who needs this care is receiving it.
Another very important thing is that the doctors now know much more about this disease than at the outset of the epidemic. They have gained first-hand experience as well as learned best practices from their foreign colleagues. Newly developed treatment methods rely on effective medicines, and we have been expanding their production.
Foreign experience showed that it was the failure to make the necessary preparations as well as an overwhelmed healthcare system that were the main causes of a high mortality rate, making it impossible to save those who could be saved. Let me reiterate that we are now able to provide this kind of assistance. It would not be an exaggeration to say that measures taken in advance helped us save many thousands of lives.
Of course, doctors, nurses (by the way, tomorrow is your professional holiday, so please accept my congratulations) and all healthcare workers have played a decisive role in these efforts. We, the citizens of the country, will not stop thanking you for your dedicated work. We understand the hardships you face, and see the courage and dignity with which you have been performing your professional duties.
I would like all senior officials, including at the supervisory agencies, to take note that today we must help our medical workers, provide them with everything they need, and, more than that, stop getting on their nerves and wasting their time on excessive reporting and inspections. I would like to ask the Government to take the most thorough decisions regarding this.
What else has changed dramatically over the past few weeks? Coronavirus testing has increased many times over. We performed 2,500 tests in early March. The current figure is some 170,000 a day. This is one of the highest figures in the world. But it is not figures that matter.
The main thing is that we are now able to identify coronavirus patients at an early stage, including asymptomatic coronavirus patients. This helps us prevent grave consequences, the development of the disease, and protect these carriers and those nearby, namely relatives, colleagues and other people, and so stop the spread of the coronavirus infection.
Of course, people are worried about the daily reports of new coronavirus cases. This is understandable. But the potential danger is in the number of cases we might miss. As I have said, the more efficiently we conduct the testing and identify new patients, including asymptomatic patients, the sooner we will overcome the epidemic.
Already by mid-May, we will practically double the number of daily tests to 300,000. I would like to ask the Government and the Healthcare Ministry to further step up these efforts.
The measures we have taken, those I mentioned above, allow us to move to the next stage in the fight against the epidemic, that is, the gradual lifting of restrictions.
This period has several fundamentally important parts. First of all, this cannot be done overnight. We must do this gradually, carefully, one step after another. Moreover, the relaxing of the restrictions must be accompanied by strict compliance with the conditions and sanitary requirements needed to ensure people’s safety.
And one more key point. We have a big country. The epidemiological situation varies across the regions. We factored this in before, and now at the next stage, we have to act even more specifically and carefully. We cannot just follow a general pattern because in some regions certain actions might produce unjustified risk for people while in others it could lead to unjustified restrictions for people and businesses.
Thus, effective tomorrow, May 12, this period of non-working days for the entire country and all branches of the economy comes to an end. But the fight against the epidemic goes on. The danger remains even in those territories where the situation is relatively good and where new cases are in the single digits.
But we cannot allow any failure, a backslide, a new wave of the epidemic with a higher number of severe complications. Let me reiterate: the relaxing of the restrictions will not happen overnight. It will require a significant amount of time.
This is why, starting on May 12, it will be necessary to maintain both general sanitary requirements and additional preventive measures in the regions during all stages until the complete end of the epidemic. I am instructing the Government and the heads of the regions of the Federation, and the sanitary authorities to ensure control over compliance with them.
Of course, public events are out of the question throughout the entire country; and we definitely need to strictly follow the sanitary rules. This includes organisations, companies, retail, services and public transport.
The enhanced safety measures must also remain in place for people over 65 years and for patients with chronic diseases.
I am now addressing our older people. My dear citizens, I understand how hard it is for you to constantly stay at home, often separated from your children and grandchildren. But you have to be patient. These are not empty words, this is a matter of life. We are maintaining the restrictions because we are concerned about you and we are doing everything we can to fend off the threat of the virus from you so that this danger passes faster.
And now I am addressing everybody in this meeting, it is very important to pay close attention to orphanages and nursing homes. People who live there need special care and, due to their age and chronic diseases many of them may have, they are especially vulnerable.
Social workers are now carrying an extra workload and higher risks. Therefore, I think we need to introduce extra pay on a national level for the three months between April 15 and July 15. I would like to make it clear that the pay that was already allocated for April will reach people regardless.
Doctors at social institutions will receive an extra 40,000 rubles for a two-week shift. Those who are working directly with coronavirus patients will receive 60,000 rubles.
Social workers, teachers, mid-level medical and administrative staff will receive 25,000 rubles and if they are dealing with infected patients – 35,000 rubles. Junior medical staff will receive 15,000 and 20,000 rubles, respectively. Maintenance staff will receive 10,000 and 15,000 rubles, respectively.
Further, once again, the situation varies from region to region. This is exactly why the regions were given flexibility with their decisions that were commensurate with the level of risk. Today’s Executive Order reaffirms their authority. The regional heads will be making decisions on restrictive and preventive measures based on the analyses of their specific situation and the opinion of their respective chief sanitary doctors. They will be deciding in which order these restrictions may gradually be relaxed or extended and, if necessary, even expanded with more measures.
Now, I will specifically elaborate on the operation of various facilities.
Of course, like before, all government bodies and municipal authorities will continue working, as well as facilities with a continuous production cycle, medical institutions, pharmacies, financial bodies, grocery stores and stores selling essential products.
Additionally, starting May 12, wherever possible, it is necessary to create conditions for resuming the operations of backbone industries, which include construction, industrial production, agriculture, communications, energy production and extraction of mineral resources.
These industries involve a significant number of workers and working there means the income and wellbeing of their families. It is also important that these operations do not involve direct contact with consumers – so it is possible to resume operation with low risk. Naturally, all sanitary regulations must be complied with.
At the same time, the heads of the regions retain the right to restrict or even suspend business operations, taking into consideration the developments on the ground, the advice coming from chief sanitary doctors, and subject to approval by the Government, including in cases where ensuring compliance with sanitary security requirements is clearly impossible.
If decisions like this are taken, people employed by companies whose operations are suspended will not lose their salaries, just as before. This is a matter of principle. I am instructing the regional heads to keep this under control.
In this context, I would like to stress that the work restrictions that were enacted from March through May had a negative effect on many sectors of the economy. We drafted and constantly expand a list of the affected sectors and companies, we offer federal support, so that small and medium-sized companies, as well as backbone companies preserve jobs, keep their teams in place, and do not accumulate wage arrears.
We will definitely keep the support measures that have been adopted so far in place. However, as we move towards reviving business activity I have decided to introduce a new package of measures to support individuals and the economy, having thoroughly discussed this with the Government. I will set forth these measures today separately.
At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that should the heads of the regions decide to suspend business operations for companies that are not on the list of affected sectors, they will have to offer their own support mechanisms for these companies and for maintaining jobs. These initiatives will have to be coordinated with the federal Government as well.
Regions and government institutions at all levels now bear exceptional responsibility for literally every step they take. This applies to preventive measures, as well as having a clear and reasonable policy for lifting restrictions or determining how specific companies should operate.
Individuals, companies and all of us are interested in getting the economy back on track as soon as possible. The experience of many regions, including Moscow where construction and industrial companies will go back to work tomorrow, shows that they can operate steadily and at the same time safely even in this challenging epidemiological situation.
Let met reiterate, however, that the heads of the regions must carefully consider these decisions. Jumping ahead too soon would be reckless and dangerous. At the same time, sitting idly and evading responsibility is not an option. It is a question of choosing between Scylla and Charybdis.
I am asking my colleagues in the Government and the State Council working group to continue providing the necessary assistance to the regions, including in terms of expertise, as they gradually move toward lifting the restrictions.
We have a complicated and long journey ahead of us, with no room for mistakes. I expect you to give as much attention as possible to this matter and ensure maximum preparedness in order to be ready to promptly respond no matter how the events play out.
The epidemic and the restrictions it caused were a major blow to the economy and the social sector that have affected the well-being of millions of Russians. Many have seen their incomes decline, while unforeseen expenses and debt have been piling up. This has happened to people working in various sectors, as well as entrepreneurs with small businesses.
From the outset, we took a principled decision to focus on helping people, those of our citizens who need this support. Maintaining employment and salaries so that workers can earn their income has been a key criterion for supporting businesses and backbone enterprises.
At the same time, now that we are taking the first steps in lifting the restrictions, with people and businesses facing so many challenges, we need to do more, and offer people direct assistance.
I would now like to ask for the attention of those who are directly concerned by the proposed support measures. You must know your rights and the authorities must ensure them by all means.
So, first of all, families with children. They always have a lot of things to take care of, but now if a family loses its income it is very difficult. All the more so if one of the parents, or worse, both of them, have lost their jobs. Unfortunately, this is happening in some cases.
As you know additional benefits are being specified for families entitled to maternity capital in the amount of 5,000 rubles a month per child under 3. The family will be getting this monthly amount for three months from April through June.
In addition, families with parents who lost their jobs are entitled to 3,000 rubles a month for each underage child. These benefits will also be paid for three months.
Next. We have made a decision that families with an income per person below the subsistence minimum can apply for benefits for children aged 3 to 7, inclusive, starting June 1 rather than July 1 as originally specified.
I draw you attention to the fact that these benefits are calculated, as I said in the Address, from the beginning of the year. Thus, a family who applies in June will get all the benefit it is entitled to in the first half of the year. On average (let me stress – on average) this can add up to 33,000 rubles per child, and a family like this will be getting regular benefit payments every month. The national average is 5,500 rubles per child per month.
However, I believe that this not really enough these days. Many more families with children need direct support from the state. The favourable macroeconomic conditions we have created in recent years for the progress of the economy, the rehabilitation of the banking and financial system in the country and the reserves we have accumulated allow us to take more decisions on supporting people.
In this connection I suggest, first of all, that the minimum child allowance be increased from 3,375 rubles to 6,751 rubles. This benefit is to be paid to non-working citizens, including students. As a rule, these are young parents and young mothers. It is important that we support them.
Second, I mentioned additional payments for children under 3 years old in the families that are eligible for maternity capital. But many families are not eligible because their children were born before January 1, 2020 when the new parameters for receiving maternity capital, including for the first child, were approved.
In light of this, I suggest that 5,000-ruble monthly payments be approved for such families. Moreover, they should receive this amount not only in May and June, but also for April, that is, retroactively. In this way, all families in Russia with children under 3 years old will receive 5,000 rubles a month.
And last, one more child support measure: from June 1, families will receive a one-off payment of 10,000 rubles per child aged between 3 and 16 years.
I would like to point out that this is not the time for people to waste a lot of personal time collecting all kinds of certificates and statements. Therefore, we have taken the only fair decision, as I see it, that no formal criteria are adopted for this one-off payment. The only condition is that assistance must be provided to everyone who needs it.
As I said, every family in Russia with children between 3 and 15 years inclusively will be able to submit a request for this one-off assistance starting tomorrow, online via the Gosuslgi [Public Services] Portal or through the Pension Fund, and receive 10,000 rubles per child starting June 1.
Overall, in accordance with the decisions we took today and our previous decisions, assistance will be provided to 27 million Russian children, from babies to schoolchildren. I believe that this is what state priorities should be like, especially now that we must above all take care of our elderly people and support families with children.
As you know, we hold meetings with the participation of the business community on supporting and developing key economic sectors almost every week. Moving forward, we will definitely keep this process in place for devising targeted solutions and fine-tuning earlier decisions. We will discuss developments in agriculture, textiles, communications and the IT sector.
However today I wanted to draw your attention to one urgent and system-wide problem. According to the latest official figures, the number of unemployed people in Russia has reached 1.4 million, having doubled compared to early April.
This is quite a challenging situation that requires comprehensive efforts to stabilise employment and support those who have lost their jobs. I ask the Government to draft resolutions to this effect. We will discuss them at a separate meeting that will take place before the end of May.
Let me tell you outright that our main goal is to reduce the risk of any further increases in the unemployment rate as much as possible, so we need to be proactive in this area as well. After all, a qualified workforce is a major development driver for the country, just like the creative entrepreneurial spirit is for the business community. We need to safeguard these assets.
Consequently, there is no question that measures to support the economy, and primarily those designed to keep companies on a sustainable footing, will have to be carried out. We need to maintain jobs, professional teams, business infrastructure and capacities so as to avoid any further sharp fall in employment, while enabling business owners to restore their teams, expand operations and get the economy back on track.
Let me remind you that we have offered direct government subsidies to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as socially-oriented NGOs in the affected sectors, so that they can pay their employees salaries for April and May. The key requirement for receiving this support is to keep at least 90 percent of their employees on the payroll compared to April 1. This measure could potentially cover 4 million workers.
At the same time businesses need to understand their prospects; they need to see the horizon of the unfolding situation so they can make decisions, as I said, with a planning horizon rather than just for the next month or two.
So, we have a number of other measures.
First. I suggest that a special employment support loan programme be launched effective June 1. All businesses in the affected industries as well as socially-oriented NGOs should be eligible for it. This measure could potentially sustain 7 million jobs.
Loan volumes will be calculated based on a formula of one minimum wage per employee per month for a period of six months. The loan maturity date will be April 1, 2021.
It is crucial that these loans are accessible to businesses while banks should be interested in working with this programme. The final interest rate for the borrower will be a preferential 2 percent rate. Everything above this will be subsidised by the state. The interest will not need to be paid monthly, it will be compounded. In addition, 85 percent of the loan will be guaranteed by the state.
And the key is that if the company keeps 90 or more percent of its current jobs, after the loan matures, it will be completely written off as will the interest on it. These costs will be covered by the state.
If the number of jobs is kept to least at 80 percent, half of the loan and compounded interest will be written off.
Such loan could be used with some flexibly for paying wages and, for example, to refinance earlier no-interest, so-called “wage loan.” As you know, we are already using this employment support tool.
However, even with all the freedom to manoeuvre for businesses and other organisations, I must instruct the Government to ensure control over the basic premise: businesses must spend the funds primarily to pay wages. Any schemes like “paper jobs” or jobs with wages below minimum wage are to be excluded, totally excluded. I ask you to strictly monitor this.
And of course, along with the loan, businesses will have to co-finance wages with their own funds.
What I want to stress here is that we have supported and will continue to support businesses, but those who care about their employees are the priority. Once again, the point of providing government support is to motivate businesses to retain jobs and maintain wages.
Second, affected industries have already been granted tax and social insurance contribution deferrals for six months and will be able to pay it back in instalments over the course of a year – as business representatives asked me to do at one of the meetings. However, to simply postpone tax payments is apparently not enough right now.
Therefore, I propose cancelling these payments for the second quarter of this year, except for VAT. This measure will apply to private entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses in the listed industries and socially-oriented NGOs.
Once again, to be clear, in this case, taxes and social contributions for the second quarter will not just be deferred, they will be cancelled – for April, May and June, the months that businesses find themselves in a difficult situation and are still experiencing hardships. More than 1.5 million companies will be able to benefit from this measure.
Third, last year, in four regions – Moscow, Tatarstan, the Moscow Region and the Kaluga Region – self-employed citizens, including those providing transport services, rental property owners, tutors, babysitters, etc., got an opportunity to do their businesses officially, rather than in a so-called grey area and pay income tax at a reduced rate of 4 or 6 percent. Some 340,000 people used this opportunity last year.
These people trusted the government and believed the guarantees for secure and civilised work. So, I think this aspiration should be supported and even encouraged. I propose tax rebates for taxes paid by the self-employed for the 2019 fiscal year in full.
The fourth proposal is related. Currently, people can register as self-employed in 23 regions. The number of officially registered self-employed workers is now over 650,000. I propose providing all self-employed citizens with a tax credit in the amount of one minimum wage they could use to pay taxes this year, thus retaining their own income.
Fifth, we also need to lower the fiscal burden on the self-employed in the most heavily affected sectors. I suggest that this year they be given a tax deduction in the amount of one minimum wage from their insurance payments, which will come as additional support to them at this difficult time.
And finally, the sixth measure. Government agencies providing microfinancing support for the self-employed, family enterprises and small businesses have been established and are working efficiently in all Russian regions.
I suggest that additional capitalisation be provided to small but efficient regional development institutions without delay and that 12 billion rubles be allocated for this purpose. These funds have been earmarked for the national project on small and medium-sized businesses for the next few years. I believe that this financial resource must be used now, in 2020.
It is obvious that we will have to revitalise normal business life gradually, step by step. At the same time, we will need to tackle strategic tasks and respond to the challenges of the new reality that is now taking shape in the world, as global markets and global trade are experiencing a shock and as the technology race accelerates.
Therefore, I have instructed the Government to start formulating a national recovery plan for employment and for individual incomes, as well as for long-term economic development.
I would like to note that this plan should aim not only at restoring the pace of our business activity but also at moving forward apace towards the achievement of our national development goals, at ensuring economic revival and a new quality in the economy through radical improvement of the business environment and conditions for doing business, deep structural changes, the creation of efficient high-tech jobs in all sectors, the launch of large-scale investment projects, as well as infrastructure and spatial development projects.
Of course, such plans call for huge financial resources and for increasing the availability of loans in the real economy. The Bank of Russia has already lowered the key interest rate and has said that they are prepared to take more steps in this direction. I hope that these decisions will support demand in the national economy in the second half of the year and will provide additional resources to our companies, which will ultimately accelerate the re-employment.
I want to emphasise the fact that we are taking complex decisions in challenging times. Of course, they need to be prepared in a timely and professional manner. Even more importantly, they need to be fully implemented, in order to ensure that the substantial funds allocated by the government find their way to specific families, people and companies.
Here is my message to all our colleagues: friends, you will be personally responsible for these efforts. Let me reiterate that these instructions will be deemed fulfilled only when every person entitled to government assistance gets it.
In this connection, I would like to remind you that back on April 8, which means more than a month ago, I proposed making a special federal payment to doctors, paramedics and nurses, and to ambulance drivers who were dealing with coronavirus patients.
However, I was informed that as of May 9, only 56 regions had made these payments, and that 56,000 people had actually received it, which is less than half of all healthcare workers entitled to these payments.
The regions already received the funds for making these April payments. I am instructing the heads of the regions to have these April payments made to healthcare workers by May 15, and we are at May 11 today, and so I am instructing the Government and the Healthcare Ministry to coordinate and continuously monitor these efforts.
Friends, please be aware that I will personally review the progress on this matter in every Russian region.
There is one more question I will keep a close eye on. On May 6, I signed an Executive Order offering additional insurance guarantees to healthcare workers, similar to those granted to Armed Forces personnel. This insurance coverage applies to everyone who has contributed to fighting the epidemic from the outset. This is a matter of principle.
Overall, I am asking the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects working group, together with the Russian Popular Front, to review the progress on this and other key instructions on supporting people and the economy, and to submit a detailed report to this effect. These controls will be carried out regularly moving forward.
And now I would like to address all Russian citizens.
We are beginning to gradually, very carefully and cautiously, relax the restrictions. The period of non-working days that was declared across the country is coming to an end.
Yes, restrictions are still in place for some territories and some businesses. I am sure that you are aware of the situation in your region and will understand the decisions.
Meanwhile, I ask the heads of the regions, provided all health safety requirements are observed, to let people, wherever possible, leave their homes, walk with children, train alone, and do it in such a way as to minimise the threat of spreading the virus.
Friends, please use extreme caution. Please maintain and even step up your personal efforts to prevent catching the virus.
I understand and I mentioned earlier that it is next to impossible to endure all these restrictions. But it would be much worse to catch the virus, to get sick and become temporarily disabled.
We have chosen a path designed to preserve people’s lives and health, and we have achieved a lot, we have done a lot and have overcome much. And increasing the number of regions that can return to normal depends on every one of us.
And now I, along with my colleagues from the regions and the Government, will move to the meeting itself.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to say the following in conclusion.
First, I would like to address the Cabinet and the regions as well, because the State Council working group has also worked with the Government. The proposed measures to support our citizens, the social sector in general, support the economy are absolutely unprecedented and large-scale. I believe that never before in our modern history has the state allocated such resources to support our people and certain sectors of the economy. I do not recall anything like this, even in the hard times of 2008–2009, during the world financial and economic crises.
These measures were prepared by all of us here. We believe they are not only expedient and feasible, but also implementable. This means they should be implemented. We must take all of this seriously. As I said in my opening remarks, this is the only way we will be able to say that we are achieving our goals and will strive to create the conditions that will be a springboard for us to restore not only our normal economic and social life but also to create conditions for the long-term development of the country, the economy in general and for the support of our people.
I ask you to take this as seriously as possible.