Working Day

5 february, 2010 19:13

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with United Russia party leadership

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with United Russia party leadership
“As you know, the economy showed clear signs of improvement during the second half of last year. GDP and industrial production began growing again, and there have been some signs of recovery in investment. Importantly, despite economic hardships we managed to sustain positive trends in key social indicators.”
Vladimir Putin
At the meeting with United Russia party leadership

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

Mr Gryzlov and I have already started discussing the issues we wanted to examine with you today. We have developed a certain habit of consulting on key issues regarding public life, the economy, the performance of United Russia MPs and the party's representatives in parliament.

As you know, the economy showed clear signs of improvement during the second half of last year. GDP and industrial production began growing again, and there have been some signs of recovery in investment.

Importantly, despite economic hardships we managed to sustain positive trends in key social indicators. Birth rates increased by almost 3%. And as for net incomes, you might remember that in October and November we predicted very modest numbers, but according to the final analysis of last year's results, they rose by 1.9%.

The government will certainly continue the necessary anti-recessionary measures, primarily to increase domestic demand and support employment. We will focus on the construction and automotive industries, which were affected the most last year when the crisis was in full swing.

The federal government alone will allocate 30 billion roubles from its budget for purchasing vehicles. Last year we allocated 35 billion roubles, and this year 30 billion roubles. If necessary we will increase funding, depending on the situation.

Another 11 billion roubles have been budgeted for buying up old cars for a recycling programme. This is a new programme, and as you are aware, entails certain challenges. Unlike other countries, Russia has never done anything like this before, and consequently the necessary infrastructure is lacking. There are not enough scrap companies in the regions, and unfortunately so far no logistics system has been developed for transporting these vehicles to the disposal sites.

But work is under way. I hope that we'll be able to begin this programme in March as planned.

We will also allocate an additional 250 billion roubles to encourage mortgage lending and stimulate demand in the housing market. We discussed this issue at the United Russia congress, and we have committed ourselves to it.

I am convinced that now that we are coming out of the downturn, we must primarily concentrate on the long-term, strategic projects that have been outlined in the government's and United Russia's official strategies.

I am referring to continuing, proactive policies for improving social services, modernising the economy and increasing the effectiveness of public administration.

This approach determines the priorities for legislators.

In this regard, I would like to thank United Russia MPs for their proactive work last year. A total of 394 laws were passed and put into effect. This required significant work on the part of experts and politicians, both in the regions and in parliament. Of the 394 laws, State Duma MPs and the government introduced 135 and 138, respectively.

I would like to give just a few examples to show the effects of our recent efforts. The amendments to the law on veterans provided all needy veterans with the right to housing. Nevertheless, we will have to look more closely at the actual developments to understand how to follow through on our commitments.

First, I would like to underscore that we will provide housing to all veterans, no matter if they registered before or after March 1, 2005. We will undoubtedly keep this promise.

But the problem boils down to this: a total of 34,000 people registered for housing before March 1, 2005, and after we made the decision to provide housing to all veterans regardless of registration time, the number of such people grew by over 37,000.

So it comes down to the capabilities of the construction industry. The necessary number of flats must be built within a year. Come Hell or high water, we must accomplish this. This is my first point.

Second. We will need to consult with regional governments. We must work closely with them. We can consider providing compensation only if it is reasonable to do so and people want it. I repeat, whatever happens we will have to make necessary changes, including by adjusting the budget if the funding appropriated for these purposes is not sufficient.

Next, the alterations to the Tax Code expanded the scope of the so-called simplified taxation regulations for helping small and medium-sized businesses. And the law on energy conservation will become a powerful tool for increasing economic efficiency and the efficiency of the budget.

Now a few words about our short-term legislative objectives. I would like to specifically mention the law on pharmaceuticals circulation, which sets new requirements for the safety and quality of pharmaceuticals and, most importantly, introduces a mechanism for government control of pharmaceutical prices, which will allow us to curb abuses and defend people's rights and interests.

The draft law was passed after its first reading on January 29, 2010. I ask you not to slow down the work on this draft law. We know very well how problematic the situation is in this area. It is one of our most acute social problems, and people rightfully reproach us for failure to set things right in this area.

I know that this issue has prompted fierce debates, including in the government. However, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development has taken a definite stand, supported by the government. No deviation will be tolerated; those who override these regulations will risk their careers. I would like you to keep it in mind when drafting the pertinent legislation. Naturally, we must carry out the necessary analysis, discuss the issue with businesses and the public, but we must also finalise this issue as soon as possible.

Next, in the near future the government plans to introduce a package of alterations to the Tax Code and the law on education, which are intended to create additional incentives for small, innovative businesses, which we decided to set up at universities. These companies will be granted a five-year exemption to ensure a smooth transition to the insurance premium system.

In addition, we are drafting amendments to introduce unified regulations for licensing start-ups.

United Russia local branches can and should oversee the programmes to improve the investment climate. At our congress last November, I stressed the necessity of overhauling the Russian bureaucratic system, revamping our oversight policies and improving the quality of government services. We have already begun to address these issues, and we are now working, as is apparent, in various industries.

It is evident that this requires us to amend federal and regional legislation meticulously. This task cannot be accomplished without United Russia's support, including at the regional level, where the party has a developed network.

We must accelerate the adoption of the federal law on the general principles for providing federal government and municipal services. I ask that you consider the government draft law on the legal status of federal government and municipal establishments within February. Alterations must make public spending more effective, improving the quality of the services provided to people.

Next, United Russia has always prioritised working directly with people. These efforts must be increased. We must develop and take advantage of the opportunities offered by public reception offices and the application procedures used by the party.

I would like to touch on another critical issue today. Many regions will hold regional and municipal elections in a month. United Russia has 400 party-ticket candidates on the ballots, nominating over 100 more candidates in constituencies.

United Russia has certainly been doing much at the federal, regional and municipal levels. Naturally, people are critical of some of our work. We must promptly respond to these criticisms from citizens and take them into account in our further work. We can expect positive effects only if we meet this condition. At the same time, we must take advantage of the election campaign to show the depth and complexity of the problems we face and the efforts United Russia has undertaken to deal with them.

A government that functions properly is capable of solving any kind of problem. Likewise, anarchy and a lack of authority, however good it looks on the outside, only aggravates and multiplies problems.

I repeat, working personally with people is absolutely necessary. Any political initiative will fail without this. I ask you to focus on this.

Let's move on to the discussion.

If you please, Mr Gryzlov.

Boris Gryzlov: Thank you. Mr Putin, indeed, working directly with people is one of our party's top priorities. We regularly work through the party chairman's public reception office. And here's another significant statistic - almost 300,000 requests were sent to the party chairman's public reception office.

It's important to hear people our, make some recommendations and, even more importantly, act on these requests. These requests are reviewed at the highest level. We have even ended up amending laws - federal and local laws - because of requests from the public. We made decisions that eliminated violations bureaucrats were gladly committing when the public turned to them. Our efforts were very results-orientated and certainly had an impact.

March 14 is general election day, as you have mentioned. I want to say that elections are taking place not only for the legislative bodies of the constituent entities of the Federation, where there are 400 candidates as well as 100 candidates from our party, but also for municipal government bodies. Seventy-six constituent entities are holding elections, which means there are a total of 6,000 elections, with 40,000 seats to be taken by people the voters support.

We set a goal for the party of winning no fewer than 90% of the constituency positions. We are approaching this number. And we already have nominees for 84% of the seats for heads of municipal agencies and 88% of the seats for deputy positions. Taking into account that we still have several days, we hope to reach the planned figure of 90%.

At this point I would like to draw your attention to the fact that other parties that are represented in the State Duma and are struggling to make it into the next Duma are in fact ensuring their own defeat, because they are nominating no more than 10% of their candidates for existing open seats. In other words, even if their candidates win, their representation can be no higher than 10% of municipal government bodies.

Of course, we are now paying particular attention to the elections for legislative bodies in eight constituent entities. But we still have heads of administrative centres in five regions, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Omsk, Rostov-on-Don and Ulyanovsk.

In particular, we're focusing on the elections in Oryol - the mayoral elections there take place on February 14, earlier than the general elections. We are also paying particular attention to elections for representative bodies in administrative centres of constituent entities of the Federation. These are in Astrakhan, Ivanovo, Lipetsk, Novosibirsk, Smolensk, Tula, Ulyanovsk and Voronezh.

Based on the work we're doing, we have been able to draw the conclusion that we will win most of the seats at all levels of the March 14 elections.

Certainly, our most important job in 2009 was to carry out the anti-crisis programme. You spoke in the State Duma on April 6 last year.

In our capacity as deputies, we made additional proposals for the anti-crisis programme. This document is the result of the cooperation between executive and legislative authorities.

But United Russia was the only party that voted for this programme. And in the course of implementing this programme, we adopted a number of very important laws that certainly helped both implement the programme itself and give us a sufficiently strong economy today.

The Strategy 2010 forum is now in progress. Representatives from various NGOs, including foreign ones, are evaluating the situation in Russia, and they're optimistic.

We understand perfectly well that 2010 will not be an easy year either, because we still have a budget deficit that is being offset by funds from the National Welfare Fund. But we feel that we have already seen positive change. This applies to both the demographic situation and the situation concerning economic growth.

We understand that this year gross national product will grow slowly, but grow all the same. Our regional organisations are working hard to monitor the administrations of their respective constituent entities, specifically with regard to modernising the economy and introducing innovative principles.

We are paying particular attention to single-industry towns. There are more than 300 of them. And now there is a proposal to adopt a new party project to support single-industry towns so that there are no failures in 2010. I think that this initiative is extremely important for the party right now.

As for the law on pharmaceuticals, which you brought up: this law already has caused quite a stir among the public, leading to calls for considerable changes to the draft law. We understand that we must withstand all of these attacks and provide the votes that United Russia needs in order to enact this law.

I wanted to talk about one amendment regarding pharmaceutical security. We need to provide for a serious degree of protection for pharmaceuticals. Specifically, we must use technology to allow every consumer verify that a drug conforms to the requirements set by the manufacturer. We have this technology.

I think that on a legislative level, we could write into the law that the manufacturer is obligated to provide protection for pharmaceuticals that the consumer can verify.

I think that fighting bureaucracy is also very important for the party. I would like to bring up one specific example. Supervisory agencies that conduct unannounced inspections on small and medium-sized businesses have petitioned the prosecutor's office requesting permission to carry out these inspections. In 2009, the prosecutor's office denied about half of these requests. So if these supervisory agencies had the staff and the time to inspect these organisations, but these inspections were denied, then they probably have a lot of free time.

I think that the best option is to downsize these agencies considerably, since they have enough spare time to question the framework of the law we enacted. The law allows for a small or medium-sized business to be inspected no more than once every three years.

As for the series of party projects, I would like you to hear out Andrei Vorobyov and Vyacheslav Volodin, because we have proposals for specific party projects that we could start in 2010.

I would like to bring up another issue - holding interregional conferences with you in attendance. We think that we could visit the constituent entities of the Federation that are centres of federal districts on a quarterly basis and hold such conferences, where we would discuss the strategic development issues of the district in question. That's all I have. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know, before we listen to our colleague, I would like to say something regarding the upcoming elections, both to everyone here and to all our colleagues in the regions and municipalities.

You cannot promise everything to everyone at once. You cannot promise the sky just to confuse people and gain power, and then use this power to solve your own problems, neglecting your promises. We must do just the opposite. We have to learn to competently and clearly explain the issues at both the regional and municipal levels, and prove to people that we can offer effective solutions.

Finally, you must have the courage to admit your mistakes so that you can analyse and correct them. As I mentioned, this requires feedback and contact with people. If the party manages to adjust its course of action in this way, then voters will respond positively. This is what I urge you to do.