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Meeting of the Presidential Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Achievement Indicators in Russia

May 7, 2014, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a meeting of the Presidential Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Achievement Indicators in Russia.

The meeting participants discussed implementation of the May 2012 Executive Orders, which were signed exactly two years ago. Senior Government officials and relevant ministers reported in particular on progress in a number of key national development areas.

The meeting also examined the government-approved state programmes as one of the main components of work to implement the May 2012 Executive Orders.

* * *

Speech at the meeting of the Presidential Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Achievement Indicators in Russia

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

As agreed earlier, today we will talk about implementing the May 2012 Executive Orders, which were issued nearly two years ago, and hear from our colleagues who are organising and conducting this large-scale work.

As you know, these executive orders concern our citizens’ most significant and sensitive problems; resolving them successfully and effectively will determine the life prospects for millions of Russians.

This involves increasing salaries for public sector workers and simultaneously boosting the quality of healthcare, educational and social services.

It includes improving living conditions, particularly for families with many children and those who are living in dilapidated housing.

It means improving the work of government agencies and organisations that provide municipal and state services.

And it includes labour productivity growth as a key factor in the continued development of the economy. Recently, our economic growth rates have slowed, but, of course, this is not a reason to change our priorities. On the contrary, we must look at them even more carefully and determine our objectives more clearly.

The Government’s main instruments for implementing the May Executive Orders are the state programmes; they were all approved a few days ago. Today, I would like to hear a report on how they reflect and take into account objectives outlined in the executive orders, how well they are funded, and whether the necessary regulatory framework has been created.

I will note that we also have clear positive results and some forward movement – first and foremost, demographically, and we have already spoken about this more than once.

For the first time in the last 20 years, we are experiencing natural population growth. It is not enormous, but nevertheless, it is an obvious natural population increase. And for the first time, the average life expectancy in Russia is at nearly 71 years (70.8).

We now have the lowest level of maternal and infant mortality in the history of our state. Maternal mortality is at about 11 out of 100,000 women giving live births.

Naturally, we know that this indicator is lower among our neighbours, who have rates of 5 to 7 deaths out of 100,000, so we still have work to do. But let’s not forget that even during the best years of Soviet healthcare, this indicator was four times higher in Russia, at 44.8 out of 100,000. Compared to 2012, we have reduced infant mortality by nearly 5%, and this is taking into account that we have begun to register children with an extremely low birth weight in accordance with European standards.

These results have been achieved thanks to the impact of maternity certificates, the creation of a perinatal centre network and all other measures, a whole system of measures to improve the situation for mothers and children, as well as in healthcare generally.

We have another significant figure: we have reduced mortality from cardiovascular diseases, which kill the highest percentage of our citizens, by 4.5%. This decrease directly results from modernising our healthcare. Every region now has specialised centres where people are saved from heart attacks and strokes in the first hours of illness.

Moreover, every year, our citizens undergohundreds of thousands of high-tech heart and artery operations. Of course, we realise that even this number is insufficient; we need to move forward. But we have made progress, including the creation of high-tech medical centres – a network that was created in part for cardiovascular surgery.

I will also note that in 2013, nearly 35 million people underwent medical check-ups, including 14 million children. They resulted in the early detection of illnesses inone out of five patients (21%). Naturally, this is another area where we have more work to do. In addition to identifying illnesses, we need to identify how the patients will receive treatment.

Recently, I spoke with the Healthcare Minister and the supervising deputy prime minister about the fact that here, too, we probably need to modify certain things and, by investing money into preventive check-ups, gain an understanding of where we have risk groups and perhaps concentrate resources there. Maybe we can discuss this again today.

Nevertheless, as I already said, we have many problems in healthcare. One of those problems is the acute shortage of skilled personnel, particularly mid-level and junior-level medical staff. We are seeing certain shifts in this area – I must admit, they are positive.

In 2013, for the first time in several years, the number of mid-level medical professionals in the regions increased by 11,000. However, we still have a shortage of these professionals, particularly paramedics and midwives in rural areas. Of course, I look forward to hearing Healthcare Minister Ms Skvortsova talk about this issue today.

We all understand that the quality of social services depends largely on the people working in the fields of healthcare, education and science, so we have planned to increase salaries for these professions. In 2013, we got closer to the established indicators.

Thus, while the average national income is 29,900 rubles, doctors have begun to receive 42,000 rubles, educators at universities now receive over 40,000, scientists receive over 41,000, and teachers receive 29,000. Of course, I am fully aware that these are the average indicators, and they vary from region to region. Moreover, as far as medicine is concerned, for example, there are people telling us that they receive that income, but they receive it from working 1.5 times or even twice the normal working hours.

All this is true, and we need to discuss it as well; we should talk about these standards, we must agree with the trade unions on what we think of the workloads at different jobs and so on. But the fact that people have the chance to receive such money, overall, this is already good. Although, I will say again, we have more work to do.

In the next few years, the salaries for mid-level medical staff and cultural workers will get closer to that level. At the same time, I will stress again that our ultimate goal is to increase the quality of and access to social services, and it is impossible to reach those results without optimising the budget.

Right now, the government is developing uniform standards for social sector institutions. We need them to be implemented more actively, taking into account regional factors. We agreed to complete an agreement by June 1, 2014 between ministries and regions which should transform the attainment of these standards into regional requirements. And I would like to ask Labour and Social Protection Minister Mr Topilin to brief us on the course of this work, especially since it is to be completed in less than a month.

Furthermore, in order to strengthen the positive demographic trends and resolve a critical social problem, we have planned to eliminate waiting lists for preschools; in two years, we have created 670,000 additional spots for children aged three to seven.

I must say that overall, this demonstrates positive, clear forward movement. The Government is allocating 50 billion rubles [more than $1.4 billion] toward these goals from the federal budget this year, and over 100 billion rubles in the next two years. The programme should be completed in one year, and I ask Education and Science Minister Mr Livanov to report on whether this funding is sufficient, and give his overall assessment of how the work is progressing.

Another important area identified in the executive orders is improving the housing situation. We have initiated work to resettle individuals living in dilapidated housing. This year, we will be eliminating about 2.8 million square metres of such dilapidated housing, and a total of over 11 million square metres by 2017, including more than 10 million with the support of the Housing and Utilities Fund.

Many governors have said that a flexible housing fund must be created to accelerate this process. To do this, we can use housing provided through non-profit rentals. Instructions on creating affordable rental housing and developing a non-profit housing fund were given back in 2012. At the same time, colleagues, I would like to point out that the law regulating this field still hasn’t been adopted.

We have addressed the issue of improving housing conditions for families with three or more children many times. Naturally, this is a very complicated, unwieldy topic. Nevertheless, we need to not just think about it, but do something in this area. I am asking Construction, Housing and Utilities Minister Mr Men to report on the measures being taken in these areas.

Colleagues, the creation of a system allowing people to evaluate the quality of municipal and government services, including those provided through the one-window principle at multifunctional centres, is an exceedingly important objective.

I know that we have achieved some positive results in creating multifunctional centres. In 2012, 12% of Russians had access to these services, but by 2013, 20% were able to use them, and this year, that number will grow to 40%. This ultimately represents a shift in the right direction. However, let me remind you that next year, no fewer than 90% of our nation’s citizens should have the option to use multifunctional centres.

However, the work in many regions is advancing slowly: the centres’ services are available to only 31% of the population in Ryazan Region, 21% in Leningrad Region, only 12% in Pskov Region and just 1.5% in Kaliningrad Region. There are many questions about the quality of the multifunctional centres’ work. Currently, they should provide no fewer than 15 federal services, including processing the rights to real estate and related transactions, exchanging and issuing passports, registering legal entities and individual entrepreneurs, and receiving and using maternal capital.

Yet, on average, such centres around the country are only providing half of the services on this list, providing one third or less of the services in 19 regions, and not a single of these services in four regions. What kinds of centres are these, if they do not provide the necessary services and people are still forced to spend hours waiting in lines? Why are we engaging in this sham, then? The Economic Development Ministry should work more actively in this area with federal and regional authorities.

As for consumer evaluations of the provided service quality, this system is not running smoothly yet. We had agreed that the main criterion for the evaluation would be feedback from the people using these services themselves. What happens in practice? For example, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives recently conducted a so-called test purchase of these services: it requested public services from 10 regions. But not one of them provided the option to evaluate the quality of those services through the ‘Your Control’ portal or an SMS survey. When people do leave feedback in the portal, they almost never hear back.

Let me stress that the authorities must listen to the people and take their views into account when making decisions, including staffing decisions; I am asking you to give very careful attention to this. There is even an entire Open Ministry operating within the Government. This, too, is probably one of your challenges, and I imagine that you will need different departments to work together on this.

Colleagues, the key condition for implementing our plans is to increase labour productivity, especially now, when growth rates in our economy have slowed. But we know the forecasts for the main sectors of the global economy: they are also predicting slowdowns.

During the last meeting, I instructed the Commission to finalise an action plan by mid-April and adopt it by June 1 of this year. I would like to hear from Economic Development Minister Mr Ulyukayev about what has been done and how we are moving in this direction.

Finally, the development of the Far East is another pressing matter. You know, we have all said this is a priority focus in our work, but frankly speaking, things are moving very slowly in this domain. Granted, a new state programme for 2014–2025 has been adopted, and special tax incentives have been created to attract investors to the Far East and individual regions in Siberia.

However, we still do not have a list of priority investment projects to develop territories in the Far East and Trans-Baikal region. We have not even confirmed the criteria for selecting such projects. The new state programme fails to reflect a whole range of infrastructure elements, including road construction, and favourable mortgage lending terms have not been developed for residents of the Far East.

As we all know, throughout all this, we see a continuing outflow of people from that region. The target programme for socioeconomic development in the Kuril Islands for 2016–2025 is not ready. I ask Far East Development Minister Mr Galushka to report on how this work is progressing, including the decisions that have already been made.

In conclusion, colleagues, as I said one year ago and wish to repeat now, because this has become even more relevant: as soon as we begin to think about an issue and put certain decisions on paper, we must also begin implementing all of our plans very actively.

May 7, 2014, The Kremlin, Moscow