Meeting of Council for Strategic Development and National Projects

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

President of Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. I am glad to welcome everybody. Let us begin.
In May 2018, we outlined the key areas of our work until the middle of this decade, and last year, in July 2020, we extended our planning horizon to 2030. The decision was made considering the speed and scale of social, economic and technological transformation happening in Russia and the world in general.
Our country must not only respond to these challenges but be the leader of global changes. We have everything to become one. We need to set and solve everyday tasks, which build up, and remember systemwide tasks as well, as they both create the canvas of long-term development.
Certainly, the aftermath and challenges of the pandemic require certain adjustments to certain plans, but again, this does not mean that we are changing our strategy. On the contrary, the responsibility of authorities at all levels is to speed up the pace of work and stay committed to our priorities while making tangible changes happen.
I would like everybody to note that the programme we are implementing received public support during the 2018 presidential election. Therefore, it must be finished, no question about it. Our citizens’ expectations are justified.
In this context, I propose that today, we give an objective appraisal to the results achieved and see what has been done and where we need additional resources and decisions. I also suggest that we thoroughly discuss our plans and practical steps for the period until 2024.
I would like to note that, despite all the challenges, despite having to mobilise our resources to counter COVID-19, we have consistently moved forward – because our common national goals, which are close and relatable to every Russian citizen, have stayed in our sight, even in the most difficult time. These goals include developing our regions, cities and rural areas, creating new jobs, and ensuring the wellbeing and decent income of Russian families, so that more children are born and have equal opportunities for education and development.
Over the past several years, we have been creating an integrated system of support for families with children and taking the necessary decisions step by step. We already provide benefits to the parents of children aged seven and younger. You also know that starting July 1, monthly benefits will become available to pregnant women in need and single parents with children aged 16 years and below.
Free hot meals are available for over 7 million schoolchildren, which is virtually every primary school student. There are still issues to address, but overall, the system is working. In August, families will also receive a one-time payment of 10,000 rubles per child aged 6 to 17.
Last year, more than 3.5 million Russian families improved their living conditions mainly thanks to reduced mortgage interest rates, including for families with two or more children. Starting this year, mortgage concessions are available to parents having their first child.
The housing construction industry is operating ahead of schedule. By the end of this year, more than 85 million square metres of housing will be finished and commissioned. Essentially, we are about to achieve the best performance rate in modern Russian history in terms of housing. I would like to ask the Government to consistently expedite this programme as reserves are not exhausted. I would like to see the same strong positive dynamic across all areas which are significant for the public.
For example, there has been serious progress in education. I am talking about creating new places in schools and developing study programmes that focus on natural sciences and technology. As we specifically agreed during the recent congress of the United Russia party, in the next five years, schools will undergo major renovations, especially schools in small towns and rural areas. These projects will also expand to bigger local infrastructure for modern life, including cultural centres and others.
With regard to vocational training, over 1,500 colleges and technical schools have been equipped according to international standards. There are increasingly more higher learning institutions in our regions where the quality of training and research activities is recognised internationally.
Training highly skilled personnel, just like accelerated scientific and technical development, has become a critical item on the national agenda with many government services now available in electronic form, which is as simple and convenient as it gets.
Advanced solutions, including artificial intelligence and big data analysis, are increasingly used in everyday life, the financial sector, healthcare, and almost every sector of our economy. It is imperative to provide additional support to this confident progress in innovations, including through providing incentives and fine-tuning the regulatory system.
There is one more important aspect to it. Thanks to responsible and flexible macroeconomic policy, as well as measures to support entrepreneurship and high-tech industries, we were able to provide quick relief to the aftermath of the crisis.
For example, economic growth will amount to about 4 percent by the end of the year, I hope that it will be close to that figure. It is necessary to use these positive developments to improve living standards, because this is the ultimate purpose of economic growth and its key result. One must always see a specific individual and their problems behind macroeconomic indicators.
So, now the unemployment rate is already practically back to what it was in 2019. Back then, we had it at 4.7 [percent], now it is already at 4.9, but this is an average number, statistics, and we know that many people are still struggling to find a job or are employed only part-time. We will cover unemployment among young people in depth. These issues need to be consistently addressed.
We are well aware of the fact that major achievements go hand-in-hand with a significant number of matters that remain unresolved and which people find sensitive. These are, primarily, poverty, low income levels in many families, substandard primary care, and the deterioration of school buildings. As you are aware, people mentioned these and other sensitive issues during the Direct Line programme.
To reiterate, we need to step up the pace of change in the economy and the social sphere, as well as the development of our regions and infrastructure, in addressing environmental problems and achieving the goals of the country’s digital transformation. Whenever possible, we should be setting our sights higher, striving to achieve more ambitious goals, and we should not look for excuses to delay the fulfilment of our promises to the people “until later,” or “at some point.”
Thus, we agreed to launch construction with the use of infrastructure loans as pilot projects in the Russian regions already this summer. However, to my knowledge, these projects have not yet been approved. We will discuss this now, and maybe something has been done very recently in this respect, although by the end of 2023, the amount of work on these projects is supposed to exceed half a trillion rubles. This is how it looks in figures.
For people this means the construction of roads, communal and other vital infrastructure facilities in their regions in the next two years. Importantly, some facilities must be put into operation or be near completion. I would like to ask regional governors to pay continuous attention to this issue and to work closer with the Government in this regard.
People are waiting for accelerated, dynamic development of the areas where they live. I would like to say right away that we are not going to reschedule the implementation of the tasks that have been set.
Before we start discussing the agenda, I would like to draw your attention to the following issues and hear what you think about them.
First, I suggest you look at what you have done on each national goal, note the existing problems and set very practical tasks that you will carry out by 2024. I would like to hear detailed reports about this.
Second, I know that the Government has prepared new initiatives. I have talked with Mr Mishustin about them today. Let me say right away that they should not override but supplement the earlier decisions and ensure the unconditional implementation of the national goals. Let us discuss your proposals in this vein.
I would also like to mention that when the Government was formed, I proceeded from the premise that it would consist of the people who drafted these goals and are well versed in this subject, as well as newcomers with a fresh look on these materials. They will make up a team that will lead us to common success.
I would like to stress once again that one thing should not replace the other, but it is clear that life goes on and makes its own adjustments, and our plans and ways of achieving our goals must reflect them. But we know what goals we have. We have set them, and we must reach them.
Let us start working. We agreed that Mr Mishustin will say a few words in the beginning, and then the colleagues will expand on what the Prime Minister has to say. We will talk in more detail about all the issues we agreed to discuss today.
Mr Mishustin, go ahead please.
To be continued.