Media Review

16 march, 2012 16:37

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: "The government gives the nation four days off"

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listened to reports on federal targeted programmes and then announced four days off.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listened to reports on federal targeted programmes and then announced four days off.

Putin began this Government Presidium meeting with calendar changes. Many people have expressed a desire to have more days off in early May, which they would like to spend in their vegetable gardens, Putin said. So this year the government decided to give the nation four days off – from May 6 to 9. Putin signed a resolution to that effect yesterday. "Considering that many people want to have more time at their dachas, we propose making Saturday, May 5, a workday instead of Monday, May 7, and Saturday, May 12, a workday instead of Tuesday, May 8," he said.

The prime minister called the next issue – the growing budget deficit -- purely technical. In the first two months the deficit is 245 billion roubles.

"Our ministries and departments have been using their budget allocations for this year more actively than before," Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said. He attributed this to a more streamlined cooperation process between budget-financed agencies and the accelerated conclusion of contracts by the Defence Ministry. "The budget deficit can be explained by a more even spending of allocations," Siluanov summed up.

He recalled a prior agreement to discuss the release of 200 billion roubles, which had not been transferred to the ministries and agencies due to the earlier macroeconomic deterioration. The minister suggested a meeting in early April to discuss this issue "if the current positive trend persists."

Siluanov reported that oil and gas revenues are growing for the most part. In the first two months the increase was more than 12%. Non-commodities revenues roughly corresponded to the target figure. However, this does not mean that we should use surplus revenue to cover our expenses, he added.

"Yes, this is what we decided," Putin agreed. He recalled that one of the government's priorities is to act in accordance with macroeconomic indicators, adding that it is possible to use these revenues to cover the current deficit.

Minister of Transport Igor Levitin spoke about the increasing air traffic – by 12.6% in 2011, and by 18% in January and February of this year. "The passenger turnover exceeded the Soviet figure for 1990," he said. Levitin noted that transit passengers will no longer have to submit their luggage for inspection within the Customs Union space, which should further increase passenger numbers.

Minister of Communications and Mass Media Igor Shchyogolev spoke about the flying start of the government online. "Russia has consistently been rated between 50th and 60th, but the experts say that Russia really took off this year. We moved up 32 positions, from 59th to 27th place, in a matter of two short years," he said.

"This is information for 2011, and we can expect to move up to the top 20 in the new rankings (to be compiled in two years), Shchyogolev said.

"Just make sure you don't lose momentum, and keep up the good work, Putin said.

The prime minister reminded his audience about the salaries of technical college employees. Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko said last year the authority over vocational and technical schools had been formally transferred to the regional balances, which led to negative consequences.

"We propose following the same path we did with school teachers," Fursenko said. To make the salaries of teachers and vocational instructors at technical colleges higher than the national average, the federal centre could help the regions by investing in the material and technical base of vocational schools, provided that the bulk of the financing comes from employers. In this scenario the regions could use the funds thus saved for pay raises.

His colleagues decided to take part in resolving this issue. Finally Siluanov proposed a meeting at the Government House next week to discuss teacher's salaries at technical colleges and kindergartens – Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov reminded the audience about the latter.

"Okay, will you be ready by Wednesday?" Putin asked. Siluanov promised to do his best.

Participants in the meeting also discussed the issue of defrauded equity investors. "Things are moving very slowly here," Putin said. Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin explained that they had compiled network schedules for each building. Last year about 17,000 equity investors received housing. More than 170 buildings have been commissioned.

Basargin thinks this issue can be resolved this year. Work is underway on the remaining 650 buildings for 62,000 people. This will cost from 90 to 120 billion roubles, he added. "The regional authorities should be most active in these efforts, Putin said.

"We'd like law-enforcement agencies also to be more active than they are now. The perpetrators of these schemes still go unpunished, with only seven criminal cases brought to a conclusion," Basargin said with generous indignation.

Putin looked towards the minister of the interior: "Mr Nurgaliyev?"

Rashid Nurgaliyev said: "I hear you, Mr Putin."

The prime minister asked Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov whether service personnel were not receiving the pay increase in some places.

"There are no reasons for concern. These are technical problems. Some service personnel make mistakes in their personal numbers or bank details, but there are only a few dozen cases like this – that's all.

Putin said: "Good, keep it in check so that it doesn't spread."

After this discussion the government leaders moved to the main issue – the implementation of federal targeted programmes and the Federal Targeted Investment Programme. In 2011 Russia carried out 54 targeted programmes; and the number of construction projects under the FTIP doubled.

"We made good progress here, but problems remain. Primarily, they have to do with financial discipline," Putin observed.

Deputy Minister of Economic Development Oleg Saveliyev told journalists that the results of the implementation of federal targeted programmes in 2011 were considered positive. "Despite delays and failures in some spheres, the general indicators are high," he said.

He called the failure to use the funds allocated for these programmes one of the shortcomings and praised the Ministry of Education and Science for spending the least on tenders.


This year the government will give the nation four days off – from May 6 to 9

Kira Latukhina