President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon,
Life goes on, and aside from dealing with all sorts of emergencies, we need to continue our usual work too.
We agreed a while ago to hold a separate meeting on Daghestan. All of you here, representing Daghestan’s government and executive authorities, know that this is one of the most heavily subsidised regions in the country, and the main reason for this situation, unfortunately, is that living standards here are very low. Improving living standards depends directly on improving the region’s economy and social sector. Some efforts have been made of late, but I think this is still not enough, and this is why I have called this meeting.
We have several issues to discuss. First is the employment situation. The regional employment and labour market programme being carried out in the region has not succeeded in holding unemployment at the planned level. There are unemployment problems affecting our country in general, but Daghestan also has specific problems of its own. Unemployment is a lot higher here. There are a number of historic reasons for this situation, which did not arise just overnight, but whatever the case, we need to take action to address this problem.
Second is the question of education. We need to draft a comprehensive programme for developing education in the region, and this needs to be a programme that will see the region’s secondary and higher education establishments teach the skills and train the professionals that are really in demand. The region’s education system must not turn out people with much-touted and prestigious professions with which the market is already over-supplied, but needs to train people in the areas essential for Daghestan’s social and economic growth.
Among positive trends in the republic I note that all general secondary schools are now equipped with computers and the sector-based wage payment system is now in effect. But there are still big problems with kindergartens, problems with the physical state of buildings and facilities (practically all facilities in the mountain districts are in a dilapidated state, for example), with general educational facilities quite simply unfit for use, and also problems with the human resources balance.
Of course, we also need to look at content, at the way history is taught – this is something we have discussed on past occasions – the history of the Caucasus, and Russian history. We need to develop religious education. This is particularly important for the Caucasus and for Daghestan. We need to ensure that young Muslims are educated in the traditions of Russian Islam, in the traditions of peace and tolerance.
The third big issue is that of healthcare. In principle, the situation is not too bad. Last year, 95 percent of Daghestan’s healthcare institutions introduced new medical care standards, and more than 90 percent went over to the new result-based wage payment system, thus carrying out the reforms we have been undertaking throughout the whole country. But the republic still has clear problems in funding and equipping its medical facilities. Again, this is a problem of old hospitals and dilapidated medical and first aid centres. This is another issue we must discuss today.
Another area of vital importance for the republic’s development — and that has determined the list of this meeting’s participants – is investment. The situation is still not good here. Almost nothing has been accomplished of late. This is why I want to hear from all of you today, because without investment it will be impossible to keep developing the region’s economy. I hope that the new leadership in the republic will help to get this process moving.
We also need to address rural problems, and this is all the more important given that almost 60 percent of Daghestan’s population lives in rural areas.
There are some issues that come under the competence of the federal and the regional authorities. They include gas and water supply, electrification, construction and maintenance of treatment plants, especially on the Caspian Sea coast, and roads, including the M29 federal highway. These are all complex issues requiring substantial investment, and so we will need to discuss them.
I will not make separate mention of the chronic problem that affects our country in general and the Caucasus in particular – corruption. Everything has been said already. The time has come for action. Rather than doing deals over official posts, the authorities need to really start tackling corruption. If work continues as it is has been going so far no results will be in sight.
I want the republic’s leadership to understand that the federal authorities are willing to give Daghestan their all-round support, but we need to see efforts on your part too. This has to be a two-way street. And so the amount and nature of support the federal authorities provide will depend on the regional authorities’ performance.
Let’s begin work.