Meeting of Council for Strategic Development and National Projects 2020-07-13 11:00:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, held via videoconference. Reports at the meeting were presented by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov and deputy prime ministers Tatyana Golikova, Marat Khusnullin and Dmitry Chernyshenko. The Council for Strategic Development and National Projects is a presidential consultative body established to ensure cooperation between the federal government bodies, the government bodies of constituent entities, local government bodies, public associations, research and other organisations with respect to issues related to the strategic development of the Russian Federation and the implementation of national projects and programmes in the major spheres of the country’s strategic development. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Let us get down to work. The agenda of today’s meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects includes many important matters of principle. We will discuss the key fields of development for our country, our further steps with our colleagues from the Government, parliament members, heads of regions, business and public associations. The primary common goal of these steps is to improve the quality of our citizens’ life. I would like to stress once again that the people should be in the focus of all our decisions, plans and programmes. We have already spoken about this many times. The interests and security of Russian families must be our top priority. It was this logic that we followed during the coronavirus, when our main priority was to save each and every life, protect people’s health as well as their confidence in the future. It was there that we concentrated the efforts of both federal and regional authorities, our medical and scientific centres, the business community and non-profit and volunteer organisations. That truly nationwide unity has allowed us to adequately respond to the challenge – not without some problems, of course, not without a few failures, but on the whole, we can say it was a proper response to the epidemic. More than 300,000 Russians are being tested for coronavirus daily. As of July 11, more than 170,377 dedicated hospital beds have been deployed around the country. And only 66 percent of those are being used for their intended purpose right now. As a result, we have been able to begin a gradual transitioning of medical facilities back to how they usually work, and this is also being done quite quickly. I should note that the mortality situation, which I believe is one of the main indicators of our effectiveness, looks quite good. The COVID-19 mortality rate per 100,000 is lower in Russia, by far lower than in many other countries, including European countries with developed healthcare systems. The daily percentage of cases detected in our country remains stable. And the number of those who have recovered is growing. In this regard, the overwhelming majority of Russian regions have begun to ease the self-isolation regulations and other epidemic-related restrictions. We do know that the fight against this threat is still ongoing. But most importantly, we can see a positive trend. And now it is important – acting carefully, of course, and with consideration of the current situation – to continue our efforts to overcome the damage caused to the economy and the social sphere. During these difficult weeks and months we gained vital experience when it came to taking targeted, calibrated and, I believe, timely decisions promptly; we were able to work out and launch new support mechanisms for citizens and businesses that were necessary to get through these hard times, first of all, for Russian families, employees of enterprises and organisations. We managed to prevent, unlike some other countries, an explosive growth of unemployment. This all means that we have a large potential to act even more efficiently and in a more coordinated fashion. Sometimes, I have to admit, we lacked this coordination during the first stages of combatting the pandemic. But these were the high standards for the entire system of state management our citizens required when voting for the amendments to the Constitution. And this public interest should act as a guideline for all the ministries, agencies, regional management teams and our colleagues from the municipalities, and must also be reflected in all our strategic plans and initiatives. Today I suggest we consider in detail the main mechanism of reaching the system-wide development tasks, namely the national projects. I suggest we discuss their updating based on the people’s choice, with regard to the accumulated experience and the lessons of the past months. We should also adjust our work in accordance with the real situation. I would like to say right away that despite the current objective difficulties, our long-term goals remain the same. Yes, we definitely need to consider new facts and circumstances, especially those related to the pandemic and the following economic realities, the economic crisis, the current trends in the global economy and in our country. I reiterate, we need to consider these factors and limitations. But how? We need to distribute our capacities and manoeuvre our means more efficiently. In this regard, I consider it necessary to look beyond the current planning horizon of national goals and projects, that is, beyond 2024, and already now outline the nationwide objectives for the upcoming decade. I will outline several major blocks that complement each other and shape the modern environment for Russian families and for personal development. Here are the points I would like to cover. The first one is maintaining people’s health and wellbeing. The past few months have brought a particularly strong realisation of their importance. We need to reach a steady population growth, achieve higher life expectancy and, of course, consistently take measures to fight poverty, which is really not a very pleasant word. The solution here is obvious: we need new jobs and favourable conditions for people to do business. We are also to fulfill the measures already planned to develop and strengthen the healthcare system and deploy additional resources. We must make the entire healthcare system, including primary care, more stable, flexible and capable of efficiently responding to any challenges. We have already spoken about this a lot and there is a plan for achieving this. I should add that this concerns the country’s overall readiness to mobilise its resources quickly. This means that even in the case of emergency situations related to possible global epidemics, elective care in Russia must be provided as scheduled (if new challenges occur we must respond to them promptly) and, of course, it should generally comply with the modern standards of quality and accessibility. The second major block of issues concerns creating opportunities for people’s self-fulfillment, developing the talents of children, young people and youth in general. During the epidemic, the Russian education system at all levels (I consider this a very positive factor) demonstrated its ability to adapt quickly while remaining stable, an ability to offer new forms and formats. This workforce, technological and organisational potential of the education system and, of course, science is, without a doubt, our strong competitive advantage. I am quite certain that, relying on this potential, we can set the next goal as well and that is to make sure that Russia is among the world leaders when it comes to the quality of general education, scientific research and development. The key condition for achieving these goals is to do everything to make sure that every young person, regardless of his or her place of birth or family income, could get quality education, uncap their gifts and natural talents. The third block of our tasks relates to a comfortable and safe living environment. There is a whole range of important issues here, including, first of all, nature conservation and reduction of the negative impact of economic activity on the environment. We have work to do here, we have spoken about this and about the plans we have made. More than that, we have undertaken certain international obligations. I have said repeatedly that problems in this field have been accumulating for many, many years, and we have begun to tackle them. At the same time, it is important not only to eliminate the already accumulated damage to the environment, but also to look ahead and also consider, among other things, the climate change challenges we are facing. We are witnessing this with our very own eyes. Of course, improving working conditions in cities and towns, and in rural areas of our country, warrants special attention, especially from our colleagues in the regions. Addressing people’s housing problems is an extremely important issue, as well as strengthening the supporting infrastructure, including the road network. Allow me to remind you that by 2018, we had achieved a good pace when it came to the construction and repair of federal roads. Over the past two years, our efforts have been focused on improving regional roads. Obviously, this work should be continued. At the same time, I would like to emphasise that these projects are not only funded with government infrastructure investments. It is important to attract new sources of financing, use the experience of our leading companies. I have already cited the example of Russian Railways – our colleagues there got things going quickly and effectively. They issued bonds to back their investment programme. The project is going well. I would also mention the Dom.RF Corporation, which also issued securities to raise funds for the development of mortgage lending. The expansion of infrastructure, the strengthening of ties between the regions and territories of the country will remove many barriers to businesses and entrepreneurial initiative. However, it is important to remove not only infrastructural, but also administrative and bureaucratic barriers. We have been talking about this for many years now, including in the construction industry. We need to act more energetically and decisively, but, of course, not in a way that would affect the quality and safety of buildings, new sites or structures. By the way, the building of new medical centres in a matter of weeks during the epidemic – both the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Emergencies worked on this – proved that these results can be achieved. Notably, the Government – yes, I am aware of this, I had it reported to me – has already reclassified about a third of existing construction standards and rules as recommendations. I support this move, and I want to say that this “clearing” effort must be continued in all areas of economic life. It is not just about the construction industry. This is the most outstanding case in point, but we have enough problems of this kind in other industries as well. Overall, we must continue to improve the business climate in order to encourage the emergence of new investment projects, primarily, in the area of import substitution. To reiterate, import substitution is not a cure-all. We are not trying to substitute all imports. I will not go into the details now. Our colleagues are aware of what I am talking about. The experience of recent months, when international trade has stalled due to border closures, has shown, however, that this goal remains important, perhaps, even more important. We need to create our own production competencies, to develop promising market niches, including the microelectronic industry and other critical industries, and to provide ourselves with seeds and pedigree material in agriculture. Large reserves for a quality growth: we also have them for domestic tourism, which is now an especially important and sensitive issue for people. Given that many countries are still closed, we need to develop domestic tourism, this is obvious. But the infrastructure must be developed too; no domestic tourism is possible without it. It is not enough to create a good business climate. We need to provide concrete support to business initiatives, that is, to ‘grow’ new companies. I ask both the Government and the regions to focus their efforts on this. A strong, sustainable national economy is undoubtedly they key to reaching system-wide objectives. Now, against the backdrop of the current economic difficulties that appeared recently due to the pandemic, it is important to maintain the employment and incomes of our citizens. This spring, we adopted an unprecedented package of measures to support the Russian economy. These are vast resources for us. Maybe they do not seem that substantial when compared to those of other countries, but – and I want to emphasise this as good work by the Government – we managed to do this in a targeted manner. This also relates to self-employed people. We covered them all: from the self-employed to backbone enterprises and key industries, we did not miss anything. Maybe we need to add something more, I agree and we will touch upon that. But it was important to maintain the sustainable, rhythmic work of enterprises and businesses, to preserve jobs and the incomes of Russian families. I would like to emphasise that priority support was provided to those business people who work legally and observe all the requirements of tax and labour law and care about their personnel. This movement towards transparency and eliminating off-the-book wages in our economy must be continued, first of all in the interests of our citizens and businesses, so that they can work in a civilised manner and count on the support of the state. But to make them work like that we need to create the necessary conditions, taking into consideration all tax and non-tax burdens. I would note that during the pandemic we were able to introduce many support measures for businesses and people, quickly and in good time, using modern digital services in a convenient remote form. We should, of course, make more extensive use of the advantages of new technological solutions. We must become a world leader in this area too. The experience of recent months has shown that it is absolutely possible for us. We are generally ready for this. We just need to target this area of our activities and launch a powerful digital development in all spheres of life: in education, in obtaining medical assistance, government services, and what is especially important, in the housing and utility sector and municipal economy. And, of course, in promoting new business ideas for the development of our own businesses. Meanwhile, digital technologies are advancing so quickly that we need to set objectives in this area literally every year or maybe even more often. What is also important is that we have received an assignment from the Government to draft a National Action Plan for the restoration of business activity, a list of systemic decisions to overcome the effects of the economic recession and begin sustainable growth. Colleagues, I suggest merging and integrating this plan’s measures into the national projects and thinking over all meaningful organisational matters. We have many topics for discussion today; let us get down to business. <…> Vladimir Putin: There is something I would like to say in conclusion. First, I definitely would like to thank you all for your constructive work. The things we discussed today, without exaggeration, concern every citizen of our country. The decisions we must take, the topics we discussed today, all this sets the trends in all the key areas, and determines Russia’s development for years to come. I would like to emphasise once again – the underlying basis of these decisions is certainly the will of the citizens expressed in the recent vote on amending the Constitution, the people’s interest in improving their lives and the lives of their families. The Constitution is a fundamental, basic law. On the other hand, we must understand that on this basic foundation, we will now need to work on specific things, and we need to make the lives of our people better, more comfortable and convenient. Hence the rigorous requirements that each level of government and each authority is to meet (I just pointed this out in various areas of our work), and we certainly must meet these requirements, build strategic plans, work out programmes, and formulate budget priorities. Based on the results of the Constitutional vote as well as today's discussion, I would like to ask the Presidential Executive Office to team up with the relevant agencies, and with the Government, and to draft an Executive Order that will stipulate the national development goals for the period until 2030, as our colleagues proposed today. Based on the new Executive Order, I will then ask the Government, assisted by the State Council, to adjust the National Projects within three months. Today I saw that there are proposals for some adjustments. We need to derive from our realities, I agree with this. But the more specific the tasks that we will have to address and the goals that we will have to achieve, the better for us all, and for the results of our work, and ultimately for Russian citizens. I would like to ask the working groups at the State Council to draft proposals for adjusting the performance indicators of regional teams, regional authorities. And of course, it is extremely important to enhance constant feedback with the people, the citizens, and public control must be strengthened over the implementation of our National Projects. I really look forward to greater involvement of the Popular Front and the Civic Chamber. Colleagues, I would like to thank you all for the substantive discussion today, and I strongly hope that we will work hard to achieve our goals. Thank you very much.