President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today, we need to establish the key parameters of our national projects for 2011–2013. We already held a presidium and meetings on this topic; [Deputy Prime Minister] Alexander Zhukov will talk about it. And of course, the federal budget estimate for next year and the next three-year period that we have almost ready. So, we need to do everything we can so that this work is synchronised and so that we do not find ourselves in a situation where the national projects, which many of you here spent so much time and effort on, get whatever is left over. It is important that the budget process itself should not subjugate these projects. Instead, in spite of all these difficulties, it should follow the national projects; in other words, these projects should be one of our budget’s dominant parts.
I will once again say: time has proved the efficiency of this kind of work. I think everyone now understands and admits that in general, this turned out to be a smart instrument for resolving social and economic problems. In any case, in the last ten years, we have not come up with anything more effective for meeting these challenges. This isn’t a panacea, of course, since it has its own difficulties, probably, even failures. But overall, this is our most effective instrument.
In the last four years, we have achieved high-quality changes in education, healthcare, providing affordable housing to citizens, and developing the agro-industrial complex. We have not only decided to continue our work with national projects, but also to adapt these projects to the modernisation processes currently underway in our nation as much as possible. Thus, one of the key topics of today’s meeting involves integration of innovative technology and programmes for improving energy efficiency into national projects. But these must be absolutely practical discussions, rather than speculation on the issue. Thus, the projects related to the technological development of the economy and the national projects should not only complement each other; they must be substantially intertwined. And here, we are talking about pure practical work that must be regarded as such.
What does energy efficiency in schools mean? It’s not just ticking off a list of requirements. We must understand that, for example, reducing power consumption at a school by 30 percent means saving extra money that can be spent on meeting the school’s other needs, such as buying textbooks, workbooks, programmes, and equipment. This is the only way for school principals and teachers to get a clear understanding of energy efficiency concept; otherwise, it’s a pointless slew of words coming out of a television screen.
A word about problems related to implementing innovations and energy efficiency technology within the national projects’ framework. Naturally, it is very important to train specialists capable of generating new ideas, applying new technology in all five priority areas of technological development. People must be able to competently engage in this kind of management; they must understand what they should be doing, and they must receive the right kind of education.
Now, the challenge I spoke about before: implementing energy efficiency programmes at educational and healthcare institutions, as well as all public sector organisations. As you know, the corresponding law has gone into effect and it can be applied to development projects, but I want to reiterate that it must be a new kind of behaviour; it should be entirely clear to all education and healthcare workers; it should not be an abstract issue.
I remind you that the law requires public sector institutions to undertake to reduce energy consumption by 3 percent every year, but we need to highlight key points here. We need every public sector institution to understand why it should do this, why it needs to work in this area and purchase the relevant energy-saving equipment. Thus, the law on energy efficiency must be an item of interest not only for energy sector workers but also, ironic as it may sound at first, for workers in the social sector, as well as the education and healthcare sectors. Everyone must learn to save money.
Another matter is innovative developments in healthcare. These developments fall under the auspices of the Modernisation Commission; these are projects related to new medicines, the diagnosis of tuberculosis, preventive vaccination, and nuclear medicine. We plan to increase the level of high-tech medical assistance availability up to 76 percent next year; to 80 percent in 2012; and to 86 percent in 2013. Clearly, this should be organised throughout our nation, throughout our entire territory.
I just visited a centre that deals with perinatal diagnostics and everything that similar obstetrics and gynaecology centres should be able to do. The visit left a very good impression of how these programmes are implemented in the Moscow Region. I hope that the governors present here today will pay attention to this, because these are the kind of expenses where you cannot pinch pennies, including expenditures for in vitro fertilisation performed at the centre. I would like to point this out to the Government and everyone in charge of financing.
I would also like to let you know that I have signed a law, which will improve drug supply in rural areas. In particular, medical facilities will be authorised to sell medicines in areas that have no pharmacies. This is an important legislative decision. Although, to be frank, it took a long time to get it pass through parliament, through the Cabinet, to a great extent, — for I remember that I was working on these national projects in the Cabinet and visited paramedic centres and rural medical assistance facilities when this issue came up. It’s good that we have done this, but it’s bad that it took us so long.
The next challenge is to build energy-efficient housing, a topic we discussed a year ago at a Council meeting. Instructions have been given, and we can discuss them today as well. Clearly, we are working on this not only at the National Projects Council meetings, this should be linked with the Council’s work because it’s the housing sector where we can achieve the maximum reduction in energy consumption, as we all know. This sector is the second major energy consumer after manufacturing industry.
But there is one figure that characterises us in a harsh way: our nation is an outsider as regards the international rating of thermally efficient building. Clearly, this is a problem that has been accumulating over time. It involves dilapidated buildings and technologies that were used 30, 40, or 50 years ago. But we need to overcome this underdevelopment and improve thermal efficiency of our buildings. Thus, we have enormous untapped reserves in energy-efficient building construction and maintenance. And investments in this sector can save us as much as almost 70 million tonnes of oil equivalent a year.
I want to specifically emphasise that I am talking about this in the framework of implementing our national projects, because the money that circulates in the Russian economy is all the money we have; it can’t be divided. We can classify it from the point of view of accounting, but we understand that this will not give us more than we have. Thus, if we work on this topic within the Modernisation Commission, we also need to work on it in implementing the national project.
I would like to hear about the measures being taken to encourage investors and increase construction companies’ interest in using energy-efficient technology. Setting legal requirements is an effective measure, but it is not enough. Incidentally, this same problem exists in the public utility sector.
I understand that during the height of the crisis, the government bought a significant portion of unfinished housing from real estate developers, thus providing housing to our veterans and military servicemen. On the one hand, this was an economic necessity, but on the other hand, this is a perfectly honourable task the government has been dealing with for some time now. We also supported mortgage lending. Following my instructions, the Cabinet developed a mortgage lending development strategy, which has been approved just recently, in July of this year.
Also in the context of housing construction, I would like to say that I signed a law which sets the procedure for making a lump-sum payment out of the maternity capital funds. Corresponding decisions were first discussed at the executive level, then at the Federal Assembly. Now, these funds can be used to construct or reconstruct one’s own single-family home without engaging a contractor. Many of our families asked for this, and now, this money can also be used for one’s own construction efforts (not just for construction conducted by third party companies or building contractors), and also to cover construction costs, if the right of ownership for the house was acquired after January 1, 2007.
And finally, a few words about the agro-industrial complex and the corresponding project. Here, I would like to say again that it is probably one of the most successful of the national projects; what’s more, agriculture is gradually turning into a high-tech sector of our economy. Major contribution to the development of this project was made by institutions that extend loans to agricultural producers, supporting their infrastructure and facilities; these institutions have been created specifically to support the sector. But we cannot stop, despite the fact that there are after-effects of the financial crisis and other problems. We cannot forget about what has already been achieved, however, in the last two years, the rate of agricultural equipment upgrade has decreased. Naturally, there are both objective and subjective reasons for this, so we need to think about having leasing companies look into the possibility of restructuring leasing agreements, including through use of payment-by-instalments schemes. Banks could also engage in similar work. But naturally, these decisions should not be senseless or unreasoned; they must be made on a sound commercial basis.
Particular attention to energy efficiency issues must be given by domestic agricultural equipment producers, which will inevitably need to be competitive in terms of these important requirements; for the moment, they are not entirely withstanding this competition. And naturally, we must not use money – state money and commercial bank’s money, too – to support outdated equipment manufacturing.
Colleagues, today we can discuss all the issues I have outlined, and naturally, speak about the most important issues as regards the progress of the national projects. However, I want to emphasise that we are talking about national projects and not everything that is happening in our nation.
Let’s begin our work.