Excerpts from the Transcript of the State Council Session “On Immediate Measures for the Implementation of Priority National Projects” (speech by First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev) 2005-12-27 22:10:00 The Kremlin, Moscow Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! Dear members of the State Council! Today's State Council session definitively opens a whole new stage in the realization of national priorities – a new and long-term stage. The Russian regions are settling down to practical work in the next few years. And now a great deal will depend on the efficiency of local authorities and the coordination of the work of our federal and regional agencies. I would like to note at once that now that projects are in specific locations, what lies ahead of us is solving together our strategic problems. First: we must redesign in both administrative and psychological terms the ineffective forms and methods of work that everyone is used to. This money allocated for projects — please excuse the comparison — is sacred. It must get to every worthy recipient. People should see the competent, timely work of the state machinery, where the authorities are obliged to provide a level of work that strengthens trust in the state. This, I repeat, is an extremely crucial and very sensitive test of the working capacity of the authorities on location. The second and no less important task is simultaneously to implement project measures for modernizing the industries. Otherwise we shall inevitably be stuck in the mechanisms of departmental inertia. Now a brief word about our preparedness for a new, regional stage of work. As you know, our Council [for the Implementation of Priority National Projects] has already held its first session. Furthermore, its presidium has begun working at full capacity. Also, deputies of the State Duma have actively joined in the work on national projects. Their active participation has increased the volume of financing for all four projects. I want to emphasize that in practice the President has given the basic responsibility for implementing these projects to the federal Government. And the Government has already involved itself in the daily monitoring of work in progress. Personal assignments have already been given to practically all federal ministers participating in the process. Right away I should say that of course work in the regions is not starting from zero. The groundwork for the financial, legal, and administrative aspects of this work has been laid, but a great deal more lies ahead, and a huge commitment is required from the regions. It is there where ordinary people live and work, where local authorities interact most closely with them, and it is necessary to maximize the benefits of what has been planned for the people. At the same time I wish to say frankly that at this point even in the centre all is not yet going smoothly. At the last session of the presidium we discussed the situation that has developed concerning the preparation of normative and legal documents to be passed on a whole range of issues in the field of public health services, education and housing. What are we to make of the fact that a number of the laws devoted to housing matters were accepted more than a year ago, but the relevant bylaws still do not exist? And turning to federal departments, I would like to remind you that already by the end of this year it is necessary to eliminate legal lacunae and keep the tempo of project activities according to the earlier set schedule. Actually, in this dense compressed schedule, we must achieve that high efficiency of authority which was discussed by the President in his addresses of recent years and towards which we have been moving consistently and in various ways, including updating the legislation on local self-government, on regional reform, and on strengthening the political powers of local authorities. Dear members of the State Council! To achieve maximum productivity in the regions it is necessary to discuss and accept a number of basic decisions. A month ago at a session of the Council [for the Implementation of Priority National Projects] we set ourselves the task of generating a transparent system for managing national projects. And for this purpose it is necessary to define the precise parameters of the projects' requirements, to allocate personal responsibility to both regional and local authorities, and thus to establish exact time periods and amounts for financing specific measures. And, as has already been said, it is extremely important finally to create a normative basis for beginning work. As a result the subjects of the Federation must accept their network schedules and target parameters, as well as the management schemes introduced by projects similar to those already imposed at the level of the central departments. We need more than simply concerted actions; we need synchronized ones by each of the participants in the process. Only by unifying the organization of work will we be able to achieve the planned result. In addition to this, it is important to define another issue, that is financing project measures. It is erroneous to believe that identical levels of construction and governmental purchases will begin at once and everywhere in the same way. There should be no egalitarianism in work on the projects. First and foremost additional means will be allocated where social establishments have created the necessary conditions, where preparatory work has been undertaken, where innovations are proceeding in a creative way and efforts to modernize the branches of industry are being supported. Thus, through mortgage credits and construction in rural areas, projects have been thought through so that both the centre and regions will be able to increase the amount of housing they can offer the population. And without this not one federal grant will be received. In addition to this regional authorities should radically liberalize access to construction sites. This is what the President spoke about during the Council on National Projects. It is necessary to interest business in lowering housing prices and this should take place along with developing local construction industries and improving the production of building materials. This is just one example concerning a separate project but it clearly shows that in practice we are talking about creating a full-value and almost new housing market in which housing is available and as economical as possible. I think that by doing so we will accomplish one of the main tasks that have been incorporated into the idea of national projects since the beginning, that is the problem of changing the situation in the housing market and construction sector. Actually, regional aspects are incorporated into each national priority including the sensitive issues of monthly payments to local doctors, general practitioners, nurses that work with them, and teachers. The centre will unconditionally perform its share of the work. No one should have any doubts in this regard. However, recipients will actually receive federal financial resources at the local level. As governors you well know what is going on in each city and each population centre and can take under your personal control the extent and timeliness with which financial means are distributed. As the projects are launched, it is necessary that they receive daily monitoring both in the regions and in the centre. The President of Russia has already drawn attention to this in his speech. As a result it is necessary to create a full-value and complex monitoring system to implement priority tasks. I shall add that at the regional and local level working groups led by state federal inspectors will coordinate monitoring activities, and led the presidential plenipotentiary envoys’ coordination councils will do this within the federal districts. Both the law enforcement agencies and the Office of General Prosecutor will accomplish their tasks at the regional level. Here each power body and agency will have autonomity, the responsibility and the necessary resources to work with. Public control should also be involved in this, and the President just spoke of this. This is especially important since publicity and openness are two of the major principles for the realization of the projects. We are starting to be fully engaged in forming uniform methods of monitoring so that already from the first steps we can monitor in a rational and effective way. Otherwise, there will be more controllers than other participants in the projects. I understand that resolving these issues is very much connected with performance discipline as a whole. And more than 100 billion roubles will be allocated towards state purchases under the auspices of the projects in 2006–2007. We are simply obliged to see that each rouble spent is commercially effective. We can achieve this level of efficiency, if we make efforts to organize work from the beginning. And this means that the purchasing activities beginning in January must fully correspond to the norms of updated federal legislation on governmental purchases and orders. It is already the regional authorities' business to provide transparent tenders and competitive procedures as well as access to available information. As a whole, from the beginning our work should start from the general and, as a matter of fact, united financial, administrative and legal principles and approaches. This exactly constitutes a consolidation of our efforts. Thank you for your attention.