18 may, 2009 16:00  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a meeting of the Government Presidium


“The main task for the next four years is to make the space industry useful to the Russian consumers, and speed up the buildup of a national group of satellites to enhance the reliability and technical level of communications, radio and television broadcasting, monitoring of the Earth’s surface, and weather forecasting.”

Vladimir Putin Meeting of the Government Presidium

Transcript of the start of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

Let's start by exchanging information on the latest developments. I have signed a number of government resolutions. I would like the colleagues involved to comment on what we are going to achieve by implementing them.

The first resolution is on the allocation of funds to promote the adoption of a healthy lifestyle in Russia in 2009. Ms Golikova, could you please take the floor.

Tatyana Golikova: Thank you, Mr Putin. We have been waiting for this resolution for a long time. This is a new direction in the Healthcare National Project, starting this year. It was launched because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has established that in Russia the leading causes of death are high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, smoking and drinking. Today, the contribution of smoking to the death rate is 17.1%, unbalanced diet 12.9%, overweight 12.5%, and alcohol 11.9%. These are quite alarming figures.

We started combating such causes of death and disease as high blood pressure by launching a cardiovascular project. For two years, we have been setting up regional and municipal cardiovascular centres. Starting this year, we have been focussing on improving the population's health by promoting a healthy lifestyle.

A total of 830 million roubles have been allocated for this project this year. This sum is divided into two parts. The first part is designed to establish preventing disease prevention centres on the basis of the existing healthcare institutions. We are planning to set up 502 health centres this year. Each one will accommodate 200,000 urban residents. In addition, we are going to carry out together with public organisations an extensive campaign promoting a healthy lifestyle, focussing on each factor that poses a health risk. This is an important undertaking, and we hope that it will produce results.

I would like to add that in accordance with the directive you issued at the meeting of the Presidium on National Projects, we have drafted, together with the Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy, and the Ministry of Education and Science, a detailed comprehensive plan to promote a healthy way of life. This plan stipulates measures prepared by my ministry, as well as of the other two ministries to incorporate different measures aimed at developing a network of sports facilities, promoting a healthy diet in schools, and implementing a number of other tasks, which our colleagues fulfil as part of their duties.

Vladimir Putin: Is it only 830 million?

Tatyana Golikova: 830 millions have been earmarked for my ministry alone. The Ministry of Sports and Tourism has its own budget - about 100 million roubles for the campaign promoting a healthy way of life and sports events. In addition, its sports programme is designed to support a healthy lifestyle. The Ministry of Education and Science has federal targeted programmes which also envisage measures to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Here is the second issue. We have discussed more than once the problem of the cost of capital construction projects financed from the federal and regional budgets. We said that it was not clear how that cost was calculated, meaning that each of its segments costs less than in neighbouring countries, including Europe, but the final cost is higher.

This is not a positive factor. We are investing huge funds in a number of large projects, such as the construction of Olympic facilities, preparations for the APEC summit in Vladivostok, and other projects in several sectors. We have signed a resolution on the procedure for inspecting the reliability of proposed data. Mr Kozak, will you comment on the issue?

Dmitry Kozak: This is a very important draft resolution, and we have been waiting for a long time. The Government currently lacks legislation on regulating pricing in construction.

The old procedure for planning construction expenses and calculating costs was based on a multitude of obsolete rules and recommendations. This is why it was decided in the early 1990 to disregard them as obsolete.

This prevented us from comparing the cost of same-type construction projects in different regions. The efforts of the Ministry of Regional Development to analyse the cost of budget-financed projects under construction in different regions have shown that spending on the construction of same-type projects in neighbouring regions with the same seismic and geological conditions and labour costs in construction differed several-fold.

For example, the cost of hospital projects was 500,000 roubles per bed in the Voronezh and Orel regions and 300,000 roubles in the neighbouring Vladimir, Ivanovo and Moscow regions.

This means that there was no system in calculating these costs, and no possibility to plan the volume of investment in terms of indicative value of construction in the absence of draft documents.

The above resolution, which is aimed at streamlining financial planning and establishing common rules for drafting project cost documents, also includes the definition of the rules of price calculation in construction, defines the subject of inspecting the estimated cost of projects and the procedure for such inspections by the state examination agency, and includes a list of documents on the rules of price calculation that should be drafted as a priority.

It is planned that under this resolution the Ministry of Regional Development is to draft by January 1, 2010 the rules of price calculation for all types of construction projects, which would be used to take decisions on the implementation of investment projects.

In addition, we should also coordinate our position with the Ministry of Economic Development. An amendment has been made to Resolution No 590 regarding the assessment of the cost of construction projects.

The implementation of this resolution will allow us to specify the definition of project documents and financial requirements for capital construction projects. An additional procedure has been introduced to stipulate that project documents exceeding the cost limits calculated in accordance with the new pricing rules shall not be accepted for consideration. The customer will have to appeal to the Government or other state agencies concerned to prove why the cost of this particular project is higher than the average.

I see this as a way of combating corruption, because this provision will allow us to prevent violations in construction projects financed from the federal budget.

Vladimir Putin: The most important thing is that the resolution is clearly aimed at fighting corruption. We must do everything possible to ensure that its application helps to lower federal spending on capital construction projects and to rule out economic factors that facilitate corruption. I hope that we attain this goal. At the least, something in this sphere will change for the better.

A resolution on individual questions regarding guardianship and custody of minors has also been signed. This resolution aims to increase the number of families that take children on these conditions, as well as foster families. One of the aims is to prevent cruelty towards children. Mr Zhukov, could you tell us the details, please.

Alexander Zhukov: Yes, Mr Putin, colleagues, this resolution is above all designed to improve the family conditions of children who are orphans or left without parental care. And of course, its aim is also to protect the rights of those children who are handed over to the care of guardians, or taken into foster homes.

This resolution stipulates the selection, verification and preparation process for citizens who have expressed an interest in becoming guardians or care-givers. And the duty, and it is already a duty, of preparing these citizens for the experience of taking one of these children into their family, falls primarily on the agencies in the child protection system. That is because we have on several occasions encountered incidents of children being taken into a family where the parents are absolutely unprepared and later returned the child to the institution where they took him from.

It also sets out the process of becoming a foster family, and for monitoring the quality of life and care for the children in the foster home. These rules stipulate that when children are handed over to be cared for by a foster family, the child protection authorities must be lead initially by the child's best interests, and in their selection of foster families must pay attention to the personality and health of the child, as well as the potential parents' ability to fulfil their duty of care to the child. The child protection authorities are also responsible for monitoring the child's quality of life in the foster family, ensuring the parents abide by the law, the legal interests of the child, and for ensuring the security of the child's possessions.

The process according to which spot-checks on the living standards of children who have been handed over to families, and many other aspects of regulating the whole guardianship and care process, are also laid out.

Vladimir Putin: The decision was taken to offer grants to twelve higher educational establishments that work in culture and the arts. Could you tell us more, Mr Zhukov?

Alexander Zhukov: Yes, Mr Putin, we envisage offering state aid of something in the order of 595.3 million roubles to higher and secondary educational establishments for music, fine art, literature and cinematography, for the period 2009-2011.

This applies to twelve federal state educational establishments. We have now sanctioned the amounts of money that will be given to the institutions, for example: the Surikov Moscow State Art Institute will receive in excess of 30 million roubles, the Moscow Architecture Institute will receive 74 million roubles, the Gorky Institute of Literature, VGIK (the National Institute of Cinematography) will receive 67 million roubles, and the Russian Academy of Music will receive 138 million roubles, and so on. So, all the main higher educational establishments involved in this kind of education will receive significant state help.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Zhukov, one final question about your area: Could you tell us about the situation on the labour market, please?

Alexander Zhukov: Mr Putin, over the last six months we have received positive information regarding the labour market. Starting in October we saw a continued increase in the number or registered unemployed in the country. We have data for the period from April 23 to May13, and in those three weeks we noted a downward trend in the number of people who had registered with the job centre - by 30,000. So far, of course, this is not a large drop, it is approximately between 0.2 and 0.3% of the total weekly figure. Nonetheless, it is a notable tendency. In addition, last week, from May 7 to May 13, the number of registered unemployed across 59 constituent entities of the Russian Federation significantly decreased.

And in addition, the number of employees who are forced to work part time has also declined. Virtually every week we can observe a sharp increase in the number of people who work part time.

This positive, although so far not dramatic expression of the tendency in regional job markets is likely to be linked in part to seasonal factors, since at the moment the Spring-Summer field work creates additional jobs, as does the implementation of regional employment programmes, which involve additional measures to create jobs.

Today these programmes are being implemented in 70 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, and they are being financed in part from the federal budget. Next week, May 25, we will hold a nationwide teleconference on this issue. The following day the Committee for Increasing Sustainable Growth in the Russian Economy will consider the state of play, and then will report back on how to further develop this tendency.

Vladimir Putin: This is the first positive trend in the labour market. The number of people registered as unemployed is falling. We hope that is due to our work, at least partly. At the same time, the situation is still difficult. So it's too early rest on our laurels. Any measures we are planning in this area need to be analysed in every aspect, down to the smallest detail, and implemented persistently.

Now let us turn to our agenda.

I would like to remind you that at our previous meeting we started to examine projects in the Guidelines of Government Work up to 2012. We discussed pension system modernisation then.

Let us see now what is to be done to promote small and medium business, and discuss space exploration priorities.

We will start with the latter. I want to stress in this connection that Russia controls 40% of the global launching market, and is a key partner of the International Space Station and a number of other ambitious projects.

Again, this is no reason to rest on our laurels. It is very dangerous to cherish the illusion of our sizeable space heritage, which guarantees our presence among the leaders without any effort on our part.

The leading countries are making good progress. They invest generously in new programmes and high technologies, and make ambitious plans to enhance their presence in the near space. So we should not merely preserve our competitive edge in the space effort but enhance it greatly-in particular, by developing the Plesetsk and Vostochny space centres, and designing future-oriented spaceships and a new generation manned spaceship.

These programmes will allow us to offer affordable and reliable orbiting services at before.

I believe that Russia is capable of increasing its share of the world launches by another 8-10% in the near future.

That is not enough, however. Russia should not be content with the role of an international space taxi driver, and it will not stay in that role, though that is also an ambitious job. However, we want to do more than carry other countries' cargos-mostly high-tech. Russia has a much greater potential. The main task for the next four years is to make the space industry useful to the Russian consumers, and speed up the build-up of a national group of satellites to enhance the reliability and technical level of communications, radio and television broadcasting, monitoring of the Earth's surface, and weather forecasting. It demands new-generation vehicles, with more extensive functions and longer service life.

Of no smaller importance is the establishment of an Earth-based infrastructure for practical application of space achievements. It will be impossible unless we thoroughly modernise the space industry, and invest generously in research and development. I rely on the Federal Space Agency to pay due attention to that task. We have been allocating substantial funding for these tasks and are entitles to demand that our money is spent as efficiently as possible and that it brings about tangible results.

Now, let us talk about the promotion of small and medium business. We have greatly enhanced and sped up our work in this field. The Government is implementing many key points of the enterprise promotion project within the anti-crisis package. I don't think I need to enumerate them once again-you all know them well enough.

The year's total federal allocations to promote business along many channels approach 80 billion roubles, including 15 billion roubles for the plough-back of regional guarantee funds to enhance the crediting of small and medium-size companies.

We aim not merely to increase the quantitative indices of business development but to achieve a qualitative improvement, to help small and medium-size companies to extend the geography of their presence, and acquire a firm footing in such spheres as housing, utilities and municipal services, science, innovation, information technologies and other knowledge-based services.

We should realise that the development of small and medium enterprise has both economic and social effects. We should implement all available plans in permanent dialogue with the business community, and with regional and local administrations.

We are going to discuss many other issues, too-in particular, the simplification of visa procedures with Croatia and South Korea. Let us get down to business.