Showing posts with label Social services. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social services. Show all posts

Vladimir Putin met with Kursk Region Governor Alexander Mikhailov

Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Kursk Region Governor Alexander Mikhailov to discuss the regional socioeconomic situation.

The discussion between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Mikhailov concerned the industrial and agro-industrial sectors, as well as in healthcare and education. Special consideration was given to efforts to reduce the regional budget’s numerous debts.

Vladimir Putin with Kursk Region Governor Alexander Mikhailov.
Vladimir Putin with Kursk Region Governor Alexander Mikhailov.
Alexander Mikhailov told Vladimir Putin that the gross regional product has soared 2.2-fold since 2001–2002, with fixed-capital investment volumes increasing 3.5-fold since the early 2000s. The industry has been posting a 3–5 percent annual growth over the last 12 years. The region implements innovation and import substitution projects. In all, 41 industrial innovation projects are currently being implemented. The region is building the Kursk-2 reserve nuclear power station.


The agro-industrial sector grew by 12.1 percent last year on 2015 and has posted a 6.5 percent growth between January and August of 2017 on the same period of 2016. The region ranks among the six best Russian regions in terms of volumes of grain production and is the second-largest meat producer nationwide. This year, the region will harvest over five million tons of beets and between 500,000 and 520,000 tons of sugar beet. The region is ready to export agricultural produce including the plant-growing sector.

Alexander Mikhailov Kursk Region Governor Russia
Alexander Mikhailov - Kursk Region Governor.
Regarding the social sector, the region implemented a program for the sustained development of rural areas accounting for 35 percent of its population. The number of villages with 1,000 residents and more has increased. This means that such villages now have schools, good roads, power stations, plus cultural and healthcare facilities. The region has a proactive farming sector, with 1,340 farms posting an impressive and sustained performance.

Alexander Mixailov at the meeting with President of Russia
Alexander Mixailov at the meeting with President of Russia.
Speaking on the subject of the social sector, the Governor underscored that the region would achieve parameters stipulated by the President’s May 2012 Executive Orders before the year is out.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin during meeting with Kursk Region Governor
Vladimir Putin during meeting with Kursk Region Governor.
They also discussed in great detail the consequences for Kursk Region of a proposed program to support regional finances, linked with the need to reduce the massive debts of regional budgets. Mr. Mikhailov noted cooperation with the Ministry of Finance on this issue and the efforts to replace commercial loans with budget loans that carry lower interest rates.


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Vladimir Putin held a meeting with members of the Security Council

President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with permanent members of the Security Council in the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin with permanent members of the Security Council
Vladimir Putin held a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
The issues on the agenda included domestic matters related to socioeconomic development.

The meeting participants had an in-depth discussion of the Syrian conflict, particularly the state of affairs around Deir ez-Zor, Russian-Turkish talks during the President’s Putin recent visit to Ankara.

The issue of the continuing, and at times, increasing pressure on the Russian media in certain countries was also touched upon. The participants noted that such activity is unacceptable.

The meeting was attended by:
  • Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko
  • State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin
  • Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino
  • Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev
  • Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev
  • Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov
  • Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
  • Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin.

PHOTO:

Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov
Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council
Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.

Putin met with Russian Government members

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Russian Government members.

Vladimir Putin discussed current economic situation in the country, prospects for banking sector development, ways to increase the minimum wage, and other pressing issues. Particular attention was paid to improving the quality and transparency of housing and utility services rendered to citizens.
Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Russian Government members.
Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Russian Government members.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues,

Today we have several issues on our agenda, including the current economic situation and forecasts to 2020.

Let us begin by listening to the Economic Development Minister. Go ahead, please.


Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Actually, we had several not very good years economically, which explains a somewhat pessimistic view of our economy. At the beginning of the year, experts did not expect GDP to grow by more than 1 percent. We can say with confidence now that these pessimistic forecasts have not materialized. We believed early this year that the economy would grow by over 2 percent and that inflation would fall below the 4 percent target. The current dynamics show that our assessments were a bit pessimistic as well.

Vladimir Putin with Russian Government Members.
Vladimir Putin with Russian Government Members.
Economic growth accelerated in the second quarter to 2.5 percent, while inflation was 3.2 percent at the beginning of last week.

Investment activity was even higher than we expected: according to available data, it reached 6.3 percent at the end of the second quarter. It is very positive news, because investment projects that are implemented today will boost economic growth tomorrow.

Following a minor technical slowdown in July, we expect a new wave of positive news and accelerated economic growth in the next few months.

What is the reason for this? First and foremost, we are entering a long cycle of lending activity in the banking sector. Inflation has stabilized at a low level, and the debt burden on people and companies has decreased over the past few years. Taken together, this created the grounds for a lending cycle that will last many years. When the inflation rate went down to 3.2 percent, it was a signal for the Bank of Russia to reduce interest rates. The goal is, as you know, to maintain inflation at around 4 percent. The Bank of Russia has announced its plans to reduce the interest rate at its meeting on Friday.

If we look at what happened within the banking system over a period of the past month, we will see that our largest banks dramatically reduced mortgage rates. They have cut the basic rate to less than 10 percent, which has increased housing affordability in Russian cities to the highest level so far. In this situation, we expect a record high volume of mortgage contracts this autumn and winter. This will bolster the construction industry and the production of construction materials in the sectors that have idling capacities.

Retail lending is gathering momentum. The important feature that distinguishes the current cycle from the previous one is that our banks are focusing on low-risk lending products, for example, those that are connected to payroll programs. Therefore, we can expect sustainable dynamics here too.
And lastly, corporate lending. Dynamics in this sector have reached positive figures as well, which is propping up the investment activity.

Secondly, we expect the consumer demand to resurge. In addition to the reviving lending activity, which I have mentioned, salaries have started growing as well. This year alone, real wages can grow by over 3 percent, and next year we expect them to grow by some 4 percent, including due to rising wages in the public sector.

Of course, we will need several years to make up for people’s losses in 2014 and 2015, but the crucial thing is that this nascent income growth is not based on oil prices but on the active growth of labor efficiency. We expect it to grow 2 percent; last year we only reported a symbolic growth of 0.1 percent.

Considering the record low unemployment level, which we expect to drop to 4.7 percent in three years, as well as the unfavorable demography, the growth of labor efficiency will be our key to maintaining economic growth and individual incomes.

The third target is the further growth of investment activity. In this context, we must continue working to make conditions for Russian business more predictable. We are moving towards this goal thanks to changes in the macroeconomic policy, which we introduced in the past few years. These include inflation targeting by the Bank of Russia, which has helped us reduce inflation to a record low, a responsible budget policy and the introduction of a new mechanism for moderating the influence of oil prices on the national economy.

It is important that predictability is also growing at the micro level. We have launched a reform of the regulatory system, which is becoming more predictable and, most importantly, is focused on prevention rather than penalty.

Mr. Putin, the decisions you made public at a recent meeting at the Nizhne-Bureiskaya HPP are a major element for reducing administrative pressure.

Another major component of predictability is tariff regulation. This year we continued our indexation policy that includes adjusting prices to inflation targeting. We will soon prepare proposals for transitioning to long-term price formation, so that infrastructure companies and business in general will know that prices will not change for a maximally long period of time. This issue was also discussed at a meeting in Vladivostok.

An important task in the context of the economic policy is active support of tools for investment financing. We have support programs that are actively developing, primarily investment lending programs. The program Six and a Half is in effect for small and medium-sized businesses. Work is underway to launch the “factory of project financing,” which will support projects worth three billion rubles and up.

I would like to particularly thank the Bank of Russia, which has actively supported this program’s development. Lower reserve and capital requirements will be applied to banks for the loans issued under this program. The first loans are expected to be granted in the first quarter of 2018.
It is very important that we have organized the work under both programs in such a way that allows for adopting a decision on granting a loan without any officials involved.

Of course, an important element for the growth of investment activity is a program for infrastructure mortgages. I will brief you on its preparation soon. As a result of these programs and their outcome, we expect active investment growth at 5–6 percent per year during the forecasted period.

It is clear that economic growth largely depends on the Government’s priority projects. As regards the maximum effect on GDP growth, I would like to note a project for creating conditions for active growth of non-resource exports, as well as a recently approved project for increasing labor efficiency. Under the latter, we aim for active cooperation with our Japanese partners, with a corresponding agreement signed at the Eastern Economic Forum.

Due to the 2.1 percent GDP increase this year, in the next three years we expect sustainable growth of the national economy of at least two percent, a stable inflation rate at four percent, and household income recovery. During this three-year period, real wages should increase by about 10 percent.

An increase in wages is extremely important because it allows us to attract and retain the best talent in the country. In today’s global economy, victory in competition goes to those who can, on the one hand, help their people fulfil their potential, and on the other hand, be the most attractive place to live and work to attract the best talent.

There is still a difference between the basic and the desired scenario. The basic forecast gives us 2.3-percent economic growth while the desired growth is 3.1 percent. Therefore, the Government continues to develop and gradually implement more changes to promote economic growth at a rate higher than the global average. First, in addition to the programs mentioned here today, I am talking about the digital economy program, increasing the competitiveness of Russian cities and a number of other projects. I also want to note that the basic scenario so far includes the conservative effect of the measures that were implemented only recently.

This concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Oreshkin, everything you said clearly indicates that the Russian economy has overcome the crisis and is gathering momentum. Under these conditions, we must do our best to maintain this dynamic. We have discussed this recently at international forums, including the BRICS summit. This is a dynamic that brings results gradually. Both participants in economic activity and the public will gradually feel the positive effects of the changes in the economy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
You talked about the public’s restored income. We are aware of the need for increasing wages. At the same time, experts claim that in general, the actual earnings of the public are still being restored rather slowly. This is the first thing.

Second, you mentioned restored consumer demand. But lately, retail trade has experienced growth of only 0.7 percent; you must be aware of this.

Third, considering the exchange rate difference, imports are growing as well. Russian producers are already feeling the effect of this. You can see this from what is on the shelves and how retailers are behaving.

I would like you to comment on all this. What do you think would be a reasonable way to proceed? Or do you think all the necessary measures have been taken? What would you recommend to the Russian Government and the entire economic sector as the leading economic agency? Please.

Maxim Oreshkin:

You are correct that income growth has barely resumed and is so far limited in scale, including this year, when we reported an increase in labor efficiency, which provides the basis for the accelerated growth of real wages. Therefore, the measures the Russian Government is taking, the effect of which we will only see in a year or two, are designed to support investment activity for reviving production. The project aimed at promoting the growth of labor efficiency includes the use of modern management technologies at companies, which will help them increase output and revenue per employee.

Taken together, this will create a situation in which we will be able to increase wages and other individual incomes. Importantly, the growth of labor efficiency must go together with an increase in salaries, and this growth must be balanced and sustainable so that we do not roll back after a while.
As for the exchange rate, the situation is indeed ambiguous. The ruble has strengthened compared to the dollar but the ruble/euro rate has weakened compared to last year. The reason for this is that the dollar has weakened greatly relative to all global currencies this year. The euro/dollar rate has grown from EUR 1.05 early this year to over EUR 1.20.

But it is true that the volume of imports has grown. This is evidence of resurging consumer demand. We see that car sales have increased 16 percent compared to last year. A large share of car parts is imported, which is increasing imports.

Our task is to maintain the competitiveness of Russian companies. However, I believe that we should do this not by reducing individual’s real incomes, but primarily by investing in new equipment, by introducing new technologies, including management technologies, and by digitalizing production. The measures I have mentioned are aimed at this, including such vital elements as reduced administrative pressure and enhanced tariff predictability.

Vladimir Putin:

I see what you mean. Thank you.

Today I would also like to talk about the minimum wage. Mr. Medvedev and I touched on this subject when we talked about the ongoing budget discussions in the Government. I would like to hear what Maxim Topilin has to say on this issue and also on the balance between the minimum wage and the subsistence wage. Mr. Topilin, we discussed this subject behind closed doors a week ago, and I asked you to think about it some more and to formulate your proposals. Go ahead, please.

Minister of Labor and Social Protection Maxim Topilin:

Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister,

In accordance with the Labor Code, a requirement is envisaged for the future of the minimum wage to be no less than the subsistence level of the working-age population. We have been moving with our social partners (it is a permanent topic for a dialogue between the Russian Government, employers and trade unions) towards solving this matter. You remember that back in 2015 the minimum wage was barely above 50 percent of the subsistence level. In the past two years, 2016 and 2017, the minimum wage was increased three times, and this rise amounted to 31 percent over a period of the past two years.

The largest increase was in July this year when we raised the minimum wage by 21 percent in one go. Thanks to these systemic solutions, the minimum wage as of July is 7,800 rubles, and we have reached its ratio with the subsistence level of over 70 percent, 71 percent to be more precise. We keep an ongoing dialogue on solving this matter with our social partners.

These actions have reduced the number of people earning below the subsistence level from 5.5 million in 2015 to 4 million. The changes here are quite substantial, yet we realize that this is inadmissible in the future, everyone should earn no less than the subsistence level.

Mr. President, we keep working with our social partners, with the State Duma. This year, a working group was set up by the State Duma headed by First Deputy Speaker Alexander Zhukov, negotiations were ongoing, different options were being considered, as were different models in terms of deadlines and schedules.

This subject is becoming crucial since we have reached the stage where we have entered into negotiations with employers as well as trade unions. The General Agreement [between the national trade unions, national employer association and the Government] expires this year, and we have to agree on a new General Agreement and approve all the parameters, including, apparently, the parameters and schedule for increasing the minimum wage and bringing it up to the subsistence level. Taking into account that the federal budget is being prepared at the moment, this topic could be finally settled within the current budget cycle.

Vladimir Putin:

Look, the minimum wage was increased twice in 2016, on January 1 and on July 1. This year, it was increased by 4 percent to 7,800 rubles on July 1.

Maxim Topilin:

7,800 rubles is only 71 percent of the subsistence wage.

Vladimir Putin:

Almost 72 percent.

You were correct when you said that our goal is, fundamentally, to increase the minimum wage to the subsistence level at the least. We must balance the minimum wage and the subsistence level and overcome the situation where one’s wage is not enough to cover the basic necessities.

I am aware of the discussion that is going on in the Government, and I understand my colleagues who are protecting their different views, because the measures we are considering will result in additional spending by the government and also by businesses. However, I believe that it is very important to do this, and that we must do this as soon as possible but in keeping with our budget’s parameters.
I suggest that the minimum wage be increased from the current 71–72 percent to at least 85 percent of the subsistence level on January 1, 2018. Furthermore, the minimum wage must be made equal to the subsistence level by January 1, 2019, or even sooner if the Government decides that we can do it. I ask the Government to submit proposals to this effect to the State Duma together with the draft federal budget for the next three years.

There is one more issue on our agenda. I want to ask the deputy prime minister in charge of social issues about this year’s enrolment at universities and at secondary vocational schools, and also about the beginning of the new academic year.

Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets:

Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister,

This academic year has started for 30.4 million children.

A total of 7.3 million kids started preschools, which is 188,000 more than last year. We implemented the program for providing additional places in preschools just in time. Let me remind you that in the past three years, an additional 1.34 million places were created in kindergartens, which today allows kids aged from three to seven to receive education on a good accessibility basis, with no queues to kindergarten for this age group in most regions of Russia. Such queues remain only in five regions where this program is still underway – Northern Ossetia, Dagestan, Tyva, Crimea, and Ingushetia.

As regards school education, 1.8 million children started school this year, or 100,000 more than in 2016. The total number of pupils is 15.5 million.

A program for creating school infrastructure is being implemented ahead of schedule, and there have been some breakthroughs in quality. We have modern standardized schools that allow for expanding the school education network and creating modern conditions for pupils.

By the start of this academic year, 76 new schools had been opened, and another 94 will be ready by the end of the year.

Educational activities have been expanded through very significant programs for the continued professional education for teachers and for developing new federal state educational standards, and this has steadily produced good results in teaching. Our pupils traditionally have excellent results in such assessment programs as TIMSS, PISA and PIRLS, and show good results on the national final school exam.

This year, we have observed significant qualitative changes, primarily in such subjects as physics and computer science. This has been proved by the entrance exams to higher education institutions.

This year, the highest pass score was for Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics [ITMO University]. Applicants had to pass the threshold of 99.7 (out of 100). The same major at the Higher School of Economics also required a very high score of 99.3. The most difficult entrance examinations were at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology with an average pass score of 85.3.

Generally, the pass score is higher this year, which indicates a higher admissions quality. The composition of students is significantly different and closely tied to the demands of the current economy. The planned enrolment for such programs as IT, aviation, rocket and space technology has been increased by 5.3 percent; for nuclear energy by 5.5 percent, for shipbuilding by 2.5 percent. The share of places in medical programs is growing. The enrolment in education programs is traditionally high. We can see that the competition in teaching majors remains quite high, around 2.5 applicants per place.

There are some qualitative changes in college admissions as well.

Some 2.8 million people were enrolled in colleges and we can see a higher competition in several programs. For example, there were up to nine applicants per place for chef programs in some colleges. Employers are asking for the targeted enrolment scheme to be extended from universities to vocational schools. We are working on these opportunities.

That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin:

So, there is a growing interest in skilled jobs.

Olga Golodets:

Yes.

Vladimir Putin:

As far as I know, the number of vocational students is 50,000 higher than last year.

Olga Golodets:

Right.

Vladimir Putin:

The statistics you just cited sound odd then: two and a half applicants per place. You should have said “this number of applicants rounded to this.” But “two and a half people” sounds odd.

Alright. Let us proceed to the main issue.

<…>

Representatives of charitable organizations, volunteer movements.

Vladimir Putin met with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Before the meeting, the President visited the Petrozavodsk State University IT park, where he was taken around a display area with projects that are being implemented with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues, friends, good afternoon.

I have always liked meeting with people who spend years doing what you are doing, that is, helping people, in particular, people who need assistance more than others. I am referring to senior citizens, people with disabilities and children.

I will not give a long and boring speech. We can start our discussion right now. It will be a free and open discussion without any restraints. Let us proceed.

Vladimir Putin at a meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
This meeting is being attended by my colleagues from the Government and the Executive Office, and the acting governor. We are at your service. Let us talk about matters of importance and concern to you, about what is being done and what else all of us can do to work even more efficiently in this area of vital importance for us and for all Russian citizens.

Who would like to start? Go ahead.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

Mr. President, colleagues,

My name is Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova and I represent non-commercial organization Agency for Social Information and am a member of the Russian Federation's Civic Chamber. I want to outline a few issues of concern to many non-commercial organizations and volunteer associations. Our citizens have become more active of late and we see vivid examples of people taking part in the work of organizations, public groups and initiatives, working to develop the places where they live and taking part in all kinds of public activity to improve people’s quality of life.

Of course, there is an interesting new area too – non-commercial organizations' involvement in providing social services. There is some good practice and interesting examples in this area. I recently attended the Community forum in the Ural district, in Tyumen, where people from Tyumen Region and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area spoke about their excellent experience and about how they get non-commercial organizations involved in social service provision.

But I think it would be very important to establish a competency center that would collect best practice and spread it to other regions and other areas, because this is something we still have problems with at present. In other words, things are active and going well in some areas, but there are problems in other ones. If it would be possible to support this center's establishment, I think this would benefit everyone.

Vladimir Putin:

I think we already have such competency centers in 18 regions, and of course, we will develop this network further. The aim is to make these centers hubs for information, and identification and exchange of best practice. They already operate in 18 regions and I think, incidentally, that this is one of Agency for Strategic Initiatives' projects too.

Meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
Meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
Are you involved in this project?

General Director of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Svetlana Chupsheva:

Of course, we have now carried out initial monitoring over the course of the year. Seventy regions are involved in this work. We can already see that this is a good initiative, but there are some difficulties and problems.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, but these centers in the 18 regions, I do not remember which ones exactly…

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

Social sector innovation centers, probably? This is what we have been talking about.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, innovation centers. They are already up and working. We will develop this work further.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

I think it would be great if they open in other regions as well.

I also wanted to note that we often need greater interaction with government authorities. Take, for example, the volunteer movement. More people want to come and work as volunteers at various institutions, such as hospitals and children's homes, to name a few. However, the rules of interaction with the authorities, that is, who to contact and where, are not always clear. This tends to turn away people who could otherwise be of help.

Vladimir Putin:

I think we need to find, at the federal level, people directly responsible for this aspect of ​​work. However, equally important, and perhaps even more important, is the regional component, since a large number of competencies and responsibilities lie with the regional and municipal authorities. So, in each region, there must be a person responsible for such activities with these organizations.

We will certainly promote this work in our interaction with the governors. I am confident that we will make it happen. At the federal level, we have Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, who is in charge of social issues, and if we take this to the level of deputy prime minister, she is a natural choice for this aspect of work. In fact, this is how things are. Her responsibilities in this regard should be simply specified. Let us do so.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

I think it would be the right thing to do. There are many members of the Board of Trustees for the Social Sphere among our participants, and this board is led by Ms. Golodets. By the way, it is an effective public body, which achieves a lot through joint efforts, so, probably, it would be logical to do so.

Vladimir Putin:

Agreed. We will do so. We will keep tabs on it and see it to completion.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

Thank you.

There is another issue, which I would also like to raise. Not so long ago, we have …

Vladimir Putin:

Is it only you and I who will talk here today? (Laughter.) I do not mind, though.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

As my colleagues will say. I will be very brief.

There is a new status for NGOs now – providers of socially useful services. By the way, on July 12, all authorized representatives were to report to you on how the acquisition of this status is proceeding. So far we have 15 such organizations in the country because there are serious difficulties regarding the status acquisition procedure, in particular the proof that the services provided meet the required quality standards. The Civic Chamber has developed recommendations about how all of this could be simplified, because at present the procedure is overly formalized. However, everybody seems to ignore our recommendations.

Vladimir Putin:

The Russian Government has already drafted two bills. The first should define the concept of social entrepreneurship as such. After all, this concept has not yet been codified in law. This is the main problem.

The second bill addresses implementation mechanisms. When it comes into effect – and I hope that it will be finalized and adopted by the Federal Assembly, that is, the Duma and the Federation Council, during the autumn session – it will be easier. Why? Because then the regions will also have certain guidelines.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

Yes, yes, with regard to the quality of services, authority should probably be transferred to the regional level.

Vladimir Putin:

As a matter of fact, it is already at the regional level but they need well-defined guidelines, standards and so on. Then I hope the situation will improve. Why do I hope so? I believe this is how is should be, this is what the laws are for.

Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova:

Thank you.

Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin (left) and Aide to the President Andrei Belousov at a meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin (left) and Aide to the President Andrei Belousov at a meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
Artyom Metelev:

Good afternoon, Mr. President.

My name is Artyom Metelev and I represent the Association of Volunteer Centers and, just like Ms. Topoleva-Soldunova, I am a member of the Civic Chamber. Our organization was established in 2014 following your meeting with Olympic Games volunteers, when you endorsed the idea of preserving the legacy of the Sochi volunteer program. Now we bring together 125 regional organizations. Darya Makovetskaya is from Karelia, and the Karelian Centre is a member of our association. We also engage in volunteer activity with children, the Russian Movement of School Students, also university students and senior citizens.

We have a dream: We would like to make the volunteer movement a part of every Russian’s life so that it is a natural norm and habit for a person to help and participate in developing the area where he or she lives. I would like to share with you our innovative project, which could help bring us closer to seeing our dream come true.

Vladimir Putin:

Do you want to make every citizen a volunteer, regardless of age and health?

Artyom Metelev:

Yes, so that every citizen has experience. We have examples.

Vladimir Putin:

This is an ambitious goal but go ahead. I am sorry for interrupting you but let us look at your project.

Artyom Metelev:

During the Russian Popular Front forum in April you supported the idea of creating a single federal online resource for covering the activities of volunteers, and issued corresponding instructions. We feel responsible for this, because the Government suggested using our platform. I wanted to show you the Volunteers of Russia platform as such a resource. Its functions and main purpose are to consolidate the volunteer movement in our country. It connects organizations that need volunteers and people who want to help.

For example, if we look at volunteers in the Republic of Karelia, where we are now, we will see a variety of volunteers registered here. For example, this girl works at the center for orphans. Accordingly, the system invites her to participate in the rehabilitation program for teenagers. In other words, the system identifies her as someone who is interested in working with children and lives in the Republic of Karelia, the city of Petrozavodsk, and suggests activities that this particular person might be interested in.

Vladimir Putin:

Where do you get the openings from?

Artyom Metelev:

We suggest that various organizations, nonprofit organizations, including the funds present here, such as "Starost v Radost", "Lisa Alert", "Soyedineniye", and many other registered organizations, currently 647 of them, form an application and start looking for nonprofit partners as volunteers. We also discussed with the Ministry of Healthcare, the Ministry of Labor and all relevant departments the issue of whether budget-funded institutions could do this as well.

Russian President at a meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
Russian President at a meeting with representatives of socially oriented non-profit organizations, charity foundations, volunteer movements and social entrepreneurs.
This is an intelligent system, which makes it possible to watch and process large amounts of data, analyze them, and issue corresponding advice. For example, the average portrait of a volunteer is a 23-year-old girl interested in social volunteering. In fact, more girls than boys do the volunteer work in Russia. Perhaps, this is a good thing, because women tend to be more compassionate than men. That is, if we see that here in Karelia volunteers are interested in culture and tourism, this is a clear signal to cultural institutions and authorities to create proper conditions for people.

Vladimir Putin:

Who has created this program?


Artyom Metelev:

Our organization, the Association of Volunteer Centers, together with the Russian Center for Civil and Patriotic Education of Children and Youth ("RosPatriottCentr"). The Agency for Strategic Initiatives is its partner.

Vladimir Putin:

Did the ASI provide the funding?

Artyom Metelev:

You did, Mr. President. (Laughter.) It was created with a presidential grant, which we obtained. Many thanks to you and all your colleagues who appreciated our work.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you for reminding me about this.

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Putin visited an exhibition of the Strategic Initiatives projects

Vladimir Putin began his working trip to Karelia with a visit to the IT Park at Petrozavodsk State University, where he viewed an exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).

Vladimir Putin with ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva.
Vladimir Putin with ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva.
In particular, Russian President attended a presentation of the space Boiling Point – Petrozavodsk, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives’ infrastructure project and platform for new ideas and projects, presentations and exchange of best practice within ASI. ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva showed the President around. Similar Boiling Points projects are already operating in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ivanovo, and there are plans to open more in Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Yakutsk, Ulyanovsk, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Tula, Novokuznetsk, and Novosibirsk.

Mr. Putin also looked over the information stands of the projects Leaders’ Club, Digital Region, and Cyber Russia.

Vladimir Putin toured the exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).
Vladimir Putin toured the exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).
Among the research and development results presented to the President were a blood test system for early heart attack diagnosis and a device that compensates for lack of sunlight, which takes the form of a wrist watch and makes it possible to get enough vitamin D when sunlight is in short supply.

Acting Head of the Republic of Karelia Artur Parfenchikov presented the region’s development strategy to the Russian President during the visit to the exhibition.


PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin toured the exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI). With ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva.
Vladimir Putin toured the exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI). With ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva.
Vladimir Putin at the exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).
Vladimir Putin at the exhibition of projects carried out with support from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).

Putin's meeting with Government members.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members to discuss Russia’s socioeconomic priorities for 2017.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues,

Congratulations on the start of the new working year

I propose we begin this meeting by discussing several issues, in particular our performance during the period of extremely cold weather

Let us start with Mr. Puchkov, and after that I would like to ask Mr Men to report on the operation of the housing and utilities system. Also, I would like the Energy Minister to speak about the performance of Russia’s energy system

Let us start working. Mr. Puchkov, go ahead, please.

Minister of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Vladimir Puchkov

Mr. President, colleagues,

Overall, the technology-related, natural and fire safety situation has been stable. On the other hand, a gas explosion and fire were reported at 10:55 am today at 11 Moskovskoye Shosse in Saratov. The fire and rescue teams arrived at the site within eight minutes, put out the fire on 250 square meters and saved 11 people, including two children.

Unfortunately, 10 people have been injured in the explosion. Immediate medical assistance has been provided to three of them, and the other seven have been taken to a hospital. One of them is in a serious condition. Healthcare Ministry teams are providing targeted medical assistance to all those who require it. An emergencies commission is working at the site and practical assistance has been organized for those who were taken to hospital and for the victims’ families. Temporary accommodation facilities have been set out, and the Struna specialized laboratory of the Emergencies Ministry will be dispatched there to issue recommendations already today on whether people should be resettled from the other two sections of the building, which were not damaged in the fire. The National Crisis Management Center is monitoring the situation

As for the winter holidays as a whole, the personnel of the Unified State System for Emergency Prevention and Relief have taken proper measures at over 43,000 facilities in all cities and towns. This has helped us ensure public safety at over 20,000 New Year parties, children’s matinees and other events held between December 25 and January 10. There have been no problems or losses. Proper protection and safety measures were taken at over 7,000 facilities on January 7. Thanks to this, people celebrated Christmas without any major problems. Also, other prevention measures have been taken

Overall, we have put out 3,600 fires during the New Year holidays. The response teams of the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Healthcare Ministry provided relief during over 2,000 serious road traffic accidents. In general for the past 10 years, the situation during this New Year’s season has been rather stable. The number of technology-related fires and the number of those injured in them was smaller. We have reduced losses from natural disasters and industrial accidents, and took measures to protect public safety on the water.

Considering the severe cold weather, we deployed 140 warming centers that also offered food, where over 50,000 people received assistance thanks to the cooperation of the Emergencies Ministry, public organizations and volunteers.

There were 24 serious housing and utilities accidents that called for additional efforts from the fire, public order and healthcare teams, which helped reduce the losses and restore all vital service systems without delay.

Particular attention was paid to promptly responding to citizens’ complaints. All traditional winter holiday and domestic tourism spots have been covered. Over 1,400 ice fishing spots have been covered by professional teams. Ice crossings and winter roads were open to traffic under special monitoring. In general, the governing bodies and forces of the Unified State System for Emergency Prevention and Relief have done a fairly good job, which allowed us to improve the indicators of our professional activity. However, based on weather forecasts, we are now regrouping our forces and revising our priorities in the regions where we expect a sharp drop in temperature or unfavorable weather changes. We are stepping up the operations of all Roshydromet departments. The crisis management systems are in place, and we are providing direct assistance and support to local governments.

We are ready for Old New Year celebrations (to be held during the night of January 13–14), and have an additional division of rescuers and divers ready for January 19, the Epiphany. The governing bodies and forces of the unified system continue to perform their tasks.

That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin:

Good

Report to me later with an update on the gas explosion.

Vladimir Puchkov:

Will do, Comrade President.

Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Medvedev, please have a word with the governor. Help them if they need help.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev:

Yes, of course.

Vladimir Putin:

Cases of malfunctioning utilities are down 17 percent compared to the same period last year. However, there were quite a few violations.

Please go ahead.

Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Prior to the New Year holiday, all Russian regions were instructed to monitor the emergency services’ operations and check the procedure for emergency responses. Lists with the names of the officials responsible for the proper functioning of equipment were drawn up for each day of the holidays in all Russian regions and all municipalities. Telephone hot lines for heat supply issues were open in all regions. We inspected the work of some of them and didn’t find any major issues.

Indicatively, accident rate is going down faster in those regions of the Russian Federation that practice public-private partnership rather than at state and municipal unitary enterprises. Here are some telling figures: in regions with public-private partnerships (35 in the Russian Federation), the accident rate for heat supplies went down by 47 percent on average, and by 21 percent for water supplies. There are good examples in the Tambov Region, the Pskov Region, and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, to name a few.

The well-coordinated work of the regional authorities in this season should be noted. For example, a drop in temperature to ?32 C in the Orenburg Region disrupted its heat supply network and the boiler’s operation. Emergency services coped with this accident in a matter of hours. They launched a stand-by heat supply system and completely resolved other problems by the end of the day.

During the New Year holiday utility services effectively responded to several accidents that occurred for different reasons in the Moscow Region. There were no emergencies despite extremely low temperatures.

However, some regions were not up to the mark. In the Irkutsk Region we were informed at teleconferences and in written reports that all municipal units were fully ready for the heating season. However, an on-the-spot check in the city of Vikhorevka pointed to certain problems and eventually its boiler came to a stop despite all the reports on its normal operation. As a result, the governor fired the minister in charge.

However, on the whole there is a drop in the accident rate. Among other things we plan to continue developing public-private partnership agreements. In the housing and utilities sector we have 663 municipal and state unitary enterprises. In line with your instructions, the switch to public-private partnership is being made here.

People first turn to the managing company. This is the closest organization to contact. Accidents often happen not only in the grid but also in residential buildings. Therefore, we will continue improving legislation on licensing managing companies. Today we are actively working in this field. Our next goal is to introduce a unified standard for managing residential buildings. It will take into account checks of utility equipment and, most important, response time following complaints. That concludes of my report.

Vladimir Putin:

When do you plan to introduce this standard?

Mikhail Men:

By the end of the year, as a priority project.

Vladimir Putin:

Why so slowly? What stages do you have to go through?

Mikhail Men:

The law needs to be amended. We will try to do this in six months.

Vladimir Putin:

Of course. We must have this standard at least for next winter.

Mikhail Men:

Will do.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.

Mr. Novak, tell us about the energy sector please.

Minister of Energy Alexander Novak:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Despite bad weather and abnormally low temperatures in some regions, Russia’s energy system coped with the situation fairly well without any system failures, as scheduled. The necessary amounts of fuel reserves, and even more, were provided for power generation stations; a power reserve of about 17,000 MW was made; the grid companies worked reliably.

In general, electricity consumption went up by 3.8 to 5 percent in the regions with low temperatures. The load on power plants during this period was up 10 percent to 143,970 MW. We had about 14 non-system accidents in the generating complex, which were immediately compensated for by reserves. They didn’t affect consumer supplies. The response to these accidents took place as part of routine operations, as in previous periods. Compared to the same period last year, which was warmer, the number of accidents in the generating complex has remained at the previous year’s level.
As for the grid complex, it also performed reliably. This period was unusual, because the temperatures went from positive to strongly negative readings leading to icing of wires and cables, which increased our wire de-icing operations six-fold.

We had 20 percent more emergency teams on duty than usual during the New Year holiday season – 9,554. Over 23,000 pieces of equipment were in operation (on an as-needed basis) and about 4,500 reserve energy sources, which were also used on an as-needed basis.

We didn’t have any system emergencies in our power engineering complex, and the New Year holidays were uneventful in that sense.

With regard to gas supplies, we covered the consumer demand in full. There were two emergency situations in Daghestan and the Krasnodar Territory resulting from traffic accidents, not the gas transportation system. The gas transportation system performed reliably.

In late 2016, you launched the operation of the gas transportation system for Crimea. On December 30, we began supplying gas via the Russian gas transportation system to cover peak demand. So far, we have supplied over 20 million cubic meters of gas to Crimea. In general, the situation is normal. We continue to work. The season is not over yet, and lying ahead is a lot of work pertaining to the autumn-winter period.

Vladimir Putin:

There were technological mishaps in the Moscow Region, the Orenburg Region and Sakha (Yakutia). Has everything been fixed there?

Alexander Novak:

Yes, Mr President, power transmission lines went out of order in these regions. There were fixed locally in the routine manner. I would like to note that electricity supplies to consumers were restored twice as fast as last year – in an hour and a half. This is half the annual average. We are improving this indicator with every year. Considering the heightened attention to the problem during the New Year holidays, the recovery was twice as fast.

Vladimir Putin:
 
Okay.

Colleagues have already mentioned domestic tourism. It is growing with each passing year. It grew by 18 percent in 2015 and 15 percent in 2016. What is happening now, during the New Year holidays? This is also the time when people go to winter resorts. The number of people doing winter sports, including alpine skiing, is also on the rise.

Mr. Safonov, go ahead please.

Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Indeed, there is a marked trend towards growing tourist flows in our country in the past 2.5 years. In the past, consumers chose travel in this country mostly for economic reasons, whereas now fans of different types of tourism are offered the broadest choice of tourist products, and most important, they enjoy absolute security of travel in Russia. As a result, domestic tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the Russian economy. As you said, the growth rates were 18 percent in 2015 and 15 percent in 2016. The tentative results of the high tourist season (it is fairly long here and is not yet over) show that the tourist flow increased by nine percent on average throughout the country. It is very important for us that the occupancy of the regional tourist infrastructure is fairly high –80–100 percent in some regions.

I can cite resorts of Sochi, Moscow and its suburbs by way of example. Moscow and its suburbs were the most popular this winter with 2.5 million visitors, which is a five percent increase.
About 500,000 people went to the Krasnodar Territory – an increase of over eight percent. More than 390,000 visited St Petersburg, which is a very good trend – an increase of over 30 percent. Twice as many tourists came to Crimea although it is still a summer destination. Nonetheless, this is also a very important positive trend.

Cultural and educational tourism in Russia is popular with Russian and foreign tourists, and, of course, ski holidays are vastly popular as well. Importantly, our country has a major competitive advantage in this area, as we have long winters. The high tourist season lasts five to six months. As a rule, the snow cover is good and stable, which our competitors do not have. The infrastructure is well developed, and there is a large number of various exciting resorts in different Russian regions.
Over 4.5 million holidaymakers went to ski resorts during the 2014–2015 winter season, and 5 million in 2016. This year, we expect about 6 million people, that is, the growth rate is quite strong. The ski resorts of Sochi, the North Caucasus and Siberia are the most popular. There is a number of interesting ski resorts in the Altai Territory, the Kemerovo Region, the Urals and the Russian Far East. This is an important positive trend, because Russia is a northern country, and promoting winter sports is important in more than one way.

I would like to say that the regions have held a wide range of events, such as the Journey to Christmas Festival (Moscow), Tambov – the New Year Capital of Russia, tours to Veliky Ustyug, which is home to Father Frost, and so on. The events were held in different regions of our country, and enjoyed great popularity, which made our citizens’ and our foreign guests’ New Year holiday season fun and comfortable. Social media covered these events extensively with numerous postings and photographs.

I would like to say that an increase in inbound tourism to Russia has a great synergistic effect by promoting 53 sectors of our economy, creating new jobs, expanding small and medium-sized businesses, and increasing budget revenue of all levels. As an example, over the past few years, the Krasnodar Territory revenue generated only by the resort town of Sochi increased by 3.5 times. The development of tourism has a major synergistic effect on our economy.

Thank you. That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin:

This confirms that our efforts to develop Sochi as a year-round resort were not in vain, and we managed to accomplish a few good things. Anyway, the good result is obvious in Sochi.
How are things going in the North Caucasus, Mr. Kuznetsov?


Minister for North Caucasus Affairs Lev Kuznetsov:

Mr. President, developing the tourism industry is one of the priorities of the socioeconomic policy implemented in the North Caucasus, and in this regard developing the tourism cluster is a key project. Of course, the statistics on tourists are probably the most important indicator of the correctness and efficiency of state investments and the priorities chosen.

I am glad to say that for a few years, our resorts have shown positive dynamics. Now two resorts are working: Elbrus, first opened in the Soviet era, and Arkhyz, which is a newly developing resort; and we plan to put into operation the third resort, Veduchi, in Chechnya. These positive dynamics are measured not in single-digit percent changes, but double-digit.

In the first eight months of this year, there was a 46 percent increase at Arkhyz and about a 40 percent increase at Elbrus, compared to the same period last year. What is extremely important, in our estimation, given the fact that we have a strong rival, Sochi, is that we really have an international resort. As Mr. Safonov said, in previous years, economic factors influenced tourists, whereas now their choice depends on a resort’s quality. According to our statistics, our ski resorts in the North Caucasus are becoming competitive in terms of quality and carving out their niche.

For example, last year, we put into operation the unique cable lift at Elbrus, the highest in Europe, which is 3,847 meters long. Arkhyz, as a young resort, also attracts tourists. It is very important that the number of people who ski is growing. We do not drain tourists from other resorts but strengthen skiing. According to this year’s statistics, over 50 percent of tourists were skiing for the first time.
We also implement social programs, including free lessons for schoolchildren and free ski passes. Every year, we choose an age category – this year it’s those born in 2006 – and provide them with free ski passes, thus creating new skills, culture and traditions.

It is crucial that despite the inflation processes, we have kept our resorts affordable. We have not raised the ski pass price compared to last year; moreover, we have improved the program. We have a unique product – a seasonal ski pass that costs 15,000 rubles. As of now, we have more day-trippers, as we do not have ample accommodation even though there are many applications from the project residents. But this makes it possible for tourists to get a day ski pass for 500 rubles, which has no precedent even in similar Russian or international facilities. However, this does not damage the resort’s economy, as the turnover is improving thanks to the growing tourism. The project is proving to be effective. In our state-funded program, we are planning further investments both for increasing the number of resorts and for creating opportunities for Russian tourists.

Vladimir Putin:

Both you and I know that to make the North Caucasus a winter holiday destination, the major issue and task is the need to develop infrastructure. I hope that by 2021, and the major projects are scheduled to be completed exactly by 2021, I hope that they will be implemented, and that our citizens will have more opportunities for holidays in Russia, in the North Caucasus.

Is Maxim Sokolov present? Mr. Sokolov, how did transport perform during the New Year holidays?

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov:

Mr. President, colleagues,

The Transport Ministry also noted the growth of air and rail travel during the holiday season, and we can confirm that it is domestic routes that are most popular.

Traditionally, air travel is the most popular, and this year Russia’s largest airports served 20 percent more passengers than before, about 4 million people during the holiday season. Moscow airports served just under 3 million, as compared to 2.5 million in the previous period. Sochi had a great gain of around 10 percent, but the absolute leader was Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, which during the New Year holidays saw an increase of 30 percent on last year. Overall, both Sochi and Simferopol this year have surpassed the 5.2 million passengers benchmark and have become the country’s largest airports following the Moscow airports and St. Petersburg.

Thanks to the increase in the domestic flow, which set a record at 55 million this year, which is a 6 percent increase, we can say that air traffic by Russian airlines has not dropped too much, even though the major international destinations such as Egypt and Turkey, charter flights and Ukraine were shut down, yet the results are within the corrected results of the previous year. Russian airline companies have served 88 million passengers, even slightly more than that. And the leaders are not only Sochi, which was mentioned here, but also other airports in the North Caucasus and the Black Sea coast. For example, Anapa saw an increase of 20 percent, Kazan saw an increase of 30 percent, the Kaliningrad Region – almost 20 percent more passengers and tourists flew to Kaliningrad which certainly makes us happy. Tourism is really growing across the whole country. This also applies, among other areas, to the Urals and Siberia.

Regarding railway transport, here we are also witnessing a little growth, within five percent, both during the holiday season and throughout the year, especially for long-distance trains. This means that we have managed to reverse the downward trend of the past several years.

As for passenger traffic, especially to the Crimean peninsula, the Kerch ferry line has to be mentioned. On the whole, it also showed gains of around 30 percent during the year, with over six million passengers.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.


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Putin.BLOG - PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin and Russian Government members at Kremlin.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Government members.
Vladimir Puchkov at the meeting with the President Vladimir Putin.
Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov.
Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men.
Minister of Construction and Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men.
Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov.
Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov.

Vladimir Putin. Meeting with Government members.

Vladimir Putin held his final regular meeting with Government members for 2016 and congratulated them on the upcoming New Year holiday.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues. 
Keeping with tradition, I want to congratulate you on the upcoming New Year holiday and say a few words about our work over this past year. 
I won’t be saying anything sensational if I say that despite the various difficulties, I think the Government has worked with maximum effect. 
Yes, we are still seeing a slowdown to some extent, but the situation is day and night compared to the drop in GDP we experienced last year. We have every reason to believe now that we can get back on a growth track. It’s important only to ensure that this growth is steady and increases from one year to the next. 
Some of our macroeconomic results already signal changes for the better. It looks very likely that our inflation rate will be at its lowest in the last 25 years. In 2011, inflation stood at 6.1 percent. This year, it will be less than 6 percent. We can say confidently that the figure will probably be 5.8 percent. 
There have been some positive developments in the real sector of the economy too, in sectors such as machine building and agriculture. This lays good foundations for resolving the tasks that we will have before us next year, in 2017. One of these tasks is most certainly to raise labour productivity, an essential basic condition for obtaining the GDP growth we need. We also need to continue structural transformation in the economy and make all possible efforts to implement the May 2012 executive orders, especially in the social sector. 
The Government’s most important achievement this year was to strike an optimum balance between addressing economic tasks and pursuing social development. This has not been easy, but overall, you have succeeded in finding this balance.
In 2017, we must continue implementing the executive orders, particularly those concerning wage rises for public sector employees. We must continue improving the business climate, and continue our efforts to reach our demographic and healthcare objectives. 
This, of course, will require effective cooperation with our colleagues in the regions, as well as ongoing dialogue with the State Duma and the Federation Council deputies so as to combine our efforts and ensure a common understanding of shared goals. I want you to focus on precisely this kind of work together. 
Let me conclude by giving you my best wishes for the upcoming New Year and thanking you for your work in 2017. 
Thank you.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev:

Mr. President, colleagues, first of all, I want to thank the President for his words just now and his review of the Government’s work over this last year. He gave an assessment of what we have accomplished and the tasks ahead, particularly over the upcoming period. 
Our priorities, as the President just said, remain unchanged. The President sets these priorities, in particular, in the Address to the Federal Assembly. They are based on the documents that form the foundations for our country’s development, including the presidential executive orders of May 7, 2012. 
These executive orders do indeed set a high yardstick for the state authorities’ responsibility in the social sector. Despite the difficulties our economy faces, we must do our best to ensure that Government meets all of its commitments and that these executive orders’ main goals are reached within the set timeframe. 
The President just reminded us of these main objectives. They concern the entire system of social relations, including wages and other social sector indicators in areas such as healthcare and education. In short, they cover all of the most basic and essential areas for everyone in the country and all of the executive authorities’ most important areas of work. 
This year was not the easiest, but nonetheless, we see that the economy has more or less recovered and we have every reason to expect growth next year. This will give us better conditions for meeting the social commitments the Government and the authorities in general have before the people. 
I support what the President said just now about the need for full-fledged dialogue with all political forces in the State Duma and the Federation Council, and for active cooperation with the regions, where the most important social tasks are being resolved.
The Government’s task is to ensure the necessary coordination of work with all regions, so that people throughout the entire country know that their problems are at the centre of the executive authorities’ attention. 
The New Year holidays are ahead, but the Government does not have holidays and we will all be working during the upcoming break. 
On behalf of the Government, I want to wish you success, Mr. President, all the very best, and, of course, good health in 2017. 
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Putin.BLOG – PHOTO:


Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.
Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.
Vladimir Putin meeting with Government.
Vladimir Putin meeting with Government.
Vladimir Putin. The President of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin. The President of the Russian Federation.