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Meeting with Government members

March 4, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Government members at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence in Moscow Region.

The meeting largely focused on implementing the comprehensive plan for the modernisation and expansion of the transport infrastructure. Transport Minister Yevgeny Ditrikh presented a report on the matter.

Other issues discussed include the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), preliminary results of the fall and winter heating season, and developing individual development programmes for several Russian regions.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

Before we get going on discussing the main issue, the development of the transport infrastructure, for which we have gathered here today, I would like to ask Ms Golikova to say a few words about the current situation in the world and around us, here in our country – everything that has to do with the coronavirus. There are now 93,000 sick people all around the world, mainly in China, but also a lot of people in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Earlier, we agreed to establish a competent commission that would be responsible for overseeing this problem, in the format of a crisis centre. How is the organisation of this work proceeding and what is the situation in Russia as of today? You have the floor.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Good afternoon, Mr President, colleagues.

As you have already noted, more than 93,000 cases of COVID-19 have been registered around the world as of this morning, of which more than 83,000 are in China. Over 3,000 people have died, while more than 48,000 have recovered. The new coronavirus is registered in 80 countries, but unfortunately, the situation is changing for the worse by the hour.

I have to say that since Russia launched efforts to prevent the entry of the new coronavirus on December 31, 2019, three cases have been recorded in Russia – two of them at the very beginning in Trans-Baikal Territory and Tyumen Region, they were Chinese citizens who went on to recover. One case involved a Russian citizen who had recently returned from Italy.

We evacuated three more patients from Japan, where they were recorded as contracting the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. These patients are now being treated in Kazan; their condition is satisfactory, and their disease is benign.

I must also point out the recent fake news on social media of a fairly large number of cases in the Russian Federation and of the official authorities’ policy of hiding this information. I would like to once again report to you that this is simply not true. The crisis centre and the Government of the Russian Federation, other bodies authorised to deal with this situation in different regions of Russia are working hard to prevent the new coronavirus’s penetration into the Russian Federation, and the data that I have just cited is true, for which we are officially responsible.

As I have already mentioned, the Government is taking all the necessary measures. According to the national plan, all the restrictive measures earlier enforced with regard to China have been extended until April 1, 2020. Moreover, considering the worsening situation in South Korea and Iran, the Government is taking additional measures similar to the decisions concerning China. Due to the adverse situation in Italy, starting on March 4, 2020, and until further notice, the passenger train service between Moscow and Nice has been suspended because the train stops in the Italian cities that are largely affected by the epidemic.

As directed by the Crisis Centre, the Foreign Ministry posted recommendations for Russian nationals advising them to refrain from trips to Iran, South Korea and Italy. Similar recommendations have been published by Rospotrebnadzor [Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare] and Rosturism [Federal Agency for Tourism]. The Foreign Ministry has informed the federal government bodies, the regional government bodies and major Russian organisations that it may be unreasonable for Russian delegations to participate in international events, including sports events hosted by the countries currently hit by the epidemic – mainly, Iran, South Korea and Italy.

The Border Police of the Federal Security Service and Rospotrebnadzor staff are taking control measures at all border check points to prevent the disease from spreading and to identify persons showing signs of the new coronavirus infection.

The regions have developed their own regional prevention plans. Regional emergency centres organised by regional authorities are taking all the necessary steps, as scheduled and in close cooperation with the Crisis Centre and the Government.

Currently, the Vector Federal State Research Centre in Novosibirsk Region is working on a vaccine for the new coronavirus infection. There are five directions of this research, with 13 options available. We have our schedule for developing this kind of preparations and this type of vaccine. We will try to expedite the process as much as possible.

Besides, on your instruction, the Government is also doing its best to make sure that there are no shortages of medical face masks and that the price of them stays low. The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service is implementing the relevant oversight measures and has noted substantial price reductions for face masks in 18 Russian regions over the past week. We are posting preliminary price reductions or stabilised prices in 47 regions. Now that we have exposed elements of unfair competition, the Prime Minister resolved on March 2 to limit the exports of personal protection means outside the Russian Federation, except humanitarian relief missions. In these cases, our goods can be exported under your decision and that of the Government of the Russian Federation.

We are continuing our work, and we are also cooperating with members of parliament. Today, State Duma deputies, members of the United Russia party, have submitted proposals on amending two current laws, On the Circulation of Medication and On Protecting the Health of Citizens that allow the Government of the Russian Federation to limit for a period of 90 days the prices of medicines and medical goods not covered by price regulation procedures. If necessary, it would become possible to effectively fix the prices and prevent price hikes during the epidemic.

All our measures are subjected to strict control, and we report on them to the Prime Minister on a daily basis. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: During what humanitarian missions can we deliver these face masks abroad?

Tatiana Golikova: This implies humanitarian projects, like when we supplied them to China, for example.

Vladimir Putin: I see, but we do not have enough of them.

Tatiana Golikova: We are only doing this by a decision of the country’s top political leaders.

Vladimir Putin: Very well, good.

Regarding the provocative ‘fake news’ stories, the Federal Security Service reports that they were organised from abroad. Unfortunately, we always face this situation. Understandably, these leaks aim to sow panic among the population. We can only counter them by providing timely, comprehensive and authentic information to the country’s citizens. Thank goodness, we are not facing any critical developments for the time being, but people should be aware of what is really happening. I would like to ask you to launch this information work. Thank you.

(Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Vladimir Yakushev reported on the progress of the heating season and on preparations for next autumn and winter.)

Vladimir Putin: The Government has decided to develop individual development programmes for some of the regions. Mr Reshetnikov, can you please say a few words about this.

Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov: Mr, President, colleagues,

Indeed, the Government continues to pay close attention to regional development. A lot is being done under the National Projects, which include the most critical matters – the construction of hospitals, schools and roads, repairing dilapidated housing, and so on. At the same time, the regional systems of inter-budgetary relations are being improved to ensure that public services are provided equally in all regions of the country.

Still, these measures are not enough. We have regions that, due to objective circumstances, do not have a developed industry or sufficient economic potential. Hence, the decision taken for ten of these regions is to create individual development programmes in addition to all the other measures to support regional development that apply to them. We relied on four indicators – people’s incomes, levels of investment, unemployment and poverty. Among such regions are the republics of Altai, Karelia, Tyva, Chuvashia, Mari El and Kalmykia, Adygeya, Pskov Region and Kurgan Region, and Altai Territory.

Individual programmes have been developed for those regions to promote the independent development of the regional economies and the building up of their economic potential. Accordingly, the main performance targets are new jobs, greater investment and the resulting development of local tax sources. The total funding for these programmes from the federal budget will amount to 50 billion rubles until 2024, that is, an additional 1 billion per region per year. Co-financing from regional budgets will be 1 percent, that is, these programmes will be almost entirely financed by the federal budget.

We agreed with the governors to channel most of the funds into support for small and medium-sized businesses, building production facilities, special economic zones, technology parks, the development of tourism, as well as the development of necessary infrastructure.

Measures related to social infrastructure are also included, but we agreed not to replace the existing programmes and rather concentrate on economic issues.

And we separately agreed that, on the instructions of Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, 10 percent of the funds should be spent on infrastructure for integrated residential development, to address housing issues in these regions. At this stage, we have developed draft programmes; it is expected that they will increase investment in these regions by almost 20,000 rubles per capita. This means plus 60 percent to what they have now, that is more than 1.5 times. Over five years, the local residents’ incomes should grow by 6,500 rubles on average, or by about 30 percent. All this is to be achieved by creating about 70,000 new jobs in those regions. This is our main goal.

To ensure the quick and effective implementation of these programmes, there is a proposal to try out a different spending management system there. The idea is, instead of deviding the funding between several ministries, projects, events, and so on, to concentrate it all within the framework of one ministry acting as the head manager for these federal funds and making sure that the money actually reaches the regions, where the governors will redistribute the funds across their projects. Often, when money is initially distributed by directives, transferring amounts from one project to another can take months, and the construction season or the right conditions can be missed. This is why we propose a more flexible system.

As of today, the draft programmes have been reviewed at the level of approach and content, and coordinated with the head of the Government Commission for Regional Development, Marat Khusnullin.

Later on, after Mr Mishustin personally visits a region and looks at the state of affairs, and after discussing the final version of the programmes on site, these programmes are to be signed and launched. The Kurgan programme has already been approved and launched, while other programmes are pending approval. We will complete this work in March so as not to miss the construction season and to begin all this work as quickly as possible.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: How do you expect to assess the quality of use of additional resources, as well as the work of the regional teams?

Maxim Reshetnikov: First of all, Mr President, we have a system for evaluating the performance of governors, and the indicators that we identified as programme targets are in full accordance with this system – people’s income in the first place, investment, and poverty reduction. We will evaluate these indicators two to three years from now, and after one year, we will look at what has been done specifically. Because the first year is the period for testing all these projects, preparing and launching them.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you very much.


March 4, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region