Dhaka July 18 2022 :
Vladimir Putin will make a working visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran on July 19 to attend a trilateral meeting between the leaders of the guarantor states of the Astana process to facilitate settlement in Syria.
In particular, the discussion will focus on a set of measures aimed at finally eliminating the hotbed of international terrorism, advancing the intra-Syrian peace process and addressing humanitarian issues, including post-conflict reconstruction.
Vladimir Putin is also expected to hold separate bilateral meetings with the leaders of Iran and Turkiye.
Dhaka July 18 2022 :
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
Today, we are holding a regular meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects. I would like to recall that, every six months, we evaluate our progress in achieving national development goals, and we dwell on all key issues in great detail.
One of our key national goals, which we discuss all the time, concerns efforts to improve the material situation of Russian citizens and to raise their incomes, especially for those who lead a modest life, to put it mildly. In other words, our main goal is poverty alleviation.
In 2017, people facing this situation accounted for 12.9 percent of Russian citizens. In late 2021, their share decreased to 11 percent. Of course, we have made some headway here. However, its pace and speed are obviously not enough. Even during this year’s high inflation, which, thank God, is gradually subsiding, I set the task of reducing the level of poverty and inequality, a no less important matter.
For this purpose, we are implementing an entire package of measures. From June 1, 2022, we have indexed pensions and subsistence-minimum wage levels by an additional ten percent. They now exceed 2021 levels by 19.5 percent. Our system for supporting families with children now covers much more people than before. From now on, needy families can request monthly payments, that is, after mothers become pregnant and until their children reach 17.
Of course, social contracts play a major role in reducing the level of poverty and inequality, and we have been addressing this matter for a long time. Last year, these programmes involved almost one million people. It is important that social contracts should provide people with real employment opportunities in the future, and that they help them launch their own businesses, no matter how small and modest. The regions should work in this direction. I am asking our colleagues from the Accounts Chamber and the Russian Popular Front to analyse the efficiency of this tool and to submit proposals on developing it even further.
We have done a lot to build and equip kindergartens and nurseries. We have now virtually accomplished this task. These institutions cater for over 99 percent of children; however, some regions are still facing a shortage of accommodation, especially in new housing developments where the necessary infrastructure was not put in place on time. Of course, it is necessary to continue building, we have discussed this issue many times, but these construction projects should proceed in such a way as to create comfortable living conditions. In some cases, though, parents have to take their children to different city districts.
I ask regional leaders to pay special attention to this, because many young families, families with children, live in new neighbourhoods and their plans to have children often depend largely on the infrastructure in their neighbourhood.
A great deal of attention is going towards school repairs and the construction of new schools. Out of the planned 1,300 schools, 674 have been completed. Next year 3,000 school buildings will undergo major repairs. Sixty-four percent of them are located in rural areas and small towns. As a matter of fact, we agreed that work in rural areas should be a priority in this project. Over the past three years, by the way, 2,967 teachers have come to work in rural schools under the County Teacher programme.
At the St Petersburg Forum, we announced the expansion of programmes to overhaul rural libraries and cultural centres – people are always asking about that – as well as regional theatres and museums, which is also very important. All of this is very much in demand among our citizens. I repeat, these issues are constantly raised at different levels.
Today, every fourth young person aged from 14 to 22 visits cultural institutions using the Pushkin Card – this is also good progress. Culture has also become more accessible in digital format, in the digital space: virtual museums and concert halls, and a national electronic library are available.
I would like to mention once again the high professionalism and dedication of our medical staff in the fight against a major pandemic. We see the fruits of their work, which is very important – I would also like to say this now. In the second quarter of this year, mortality in Russia, thank God, fell to the level of 2019, the year before the pandemic, and life expectancy, according to preliminary estimates, exceeded 73 years in that same quarter.
In general, this is a good result, but it is important to move steadily towards the goal of increasing life expectancy in Russia to 78 years by 2030. This indicator is largely integral to all our efforts to create comfortable living conditions for our citizens and improve their health.
In that regard, I once again draw my colleagues’ attention to speeding up the adoption and implementation of programmes to combat diabetes and hepatitis C. As you know, the Government has been instructed to do so, but – and I would like to emphasise this to my colleagues – such programmes have not been launched yet.
Last year was the most successful in another area: housing construction, with 92.6 million sq m commissioned, which is 18.7 percent more than planned. Mortgage lending has reached a record level: almost two million loans have been approved, including under government mortgage lending programmes.
The number of completed projects to create a comfortable urban environment is increasing. Overall, more than 17,000 public spaces have been improved over the past four years. Such projects are very important for small and historical towns. I announced the expansion of this programme recently at the St Petersburg Forum. We will, of course, speed up such work, because it is also very popular with our people.
A lot has also been done in the sphere of ecology. Unauthorised landfills are being reclaimed in Tatarstan, Chuvashia, the Stavropol Territory, Omsk, Ryazan, Tula and other regions. This year, 17 more such landfills will be cleared, and by the end of 2023, at least 111 landfills will have been removed. You know how it all began during a Direct Line: people brought this landfill issue into sharp relief. It would be desirable, of course, to do this even faster, but still work is underway.
Of course, the landfill in Chelyabinsk, which was the largest city landfill, is the most colourful example. Since reclamation, it has become an urban space, where sports events were held in September 2021, which is very good. Let me repeat that there is still a lot to be done.
As you know, it is not just that restrictions are being deliberately and specifically used against Russia today, but the near total closure of access to foreign high-tech products, something that has already acquired a global character, forming the basis of the progressive development of any state in the modern world. This is exactly where they are trying to put up obstacles for us in order to restrain the development of Russia. It is clear that this is a big challenge for our country.
However, we are not going to give up, feel at a loss or, as some of our well-wishers predict, fall back decades. Of course not. On the contrary, realising the enormous pile of difficulties we are facing, we will intensively and competently look for new solutions, effectively use the existing sovereign technological reserves, and develop domestic innovative companies.
I understand that this is a difficult task; we can all see this. It is clear that we cannot develop while being cut from the entire world, but this won’t happen either: it is impossible to draw a circle and put up a huge fence like this in today’s world; this is simply impossible. Nevertheless, I will outline tasks on which we must now focus most, to which we must pay special attention.
One of the main goals is to further develop end-to-end technologies and we will speak about this today. As they say in such cases, it is, of course, difficult to overrate its influence on structural economic changes, the creation of new production lines and businesses, and the manufacture of breakthrough products and services.
As you know, large domestic corporations have become key participants in such projects. The Government and companies started actively working in this regard in 2020. Of course, there are positive results. I would like to specifically mention the progress achieved by Sberbank in artificial intelligence, the achievements of Russian Railways in quantum communications, and the successes of Rosatom in composite materials.
However, overall, it would be a mistake to declare this work as particularly successful either – nothing has been done in five out of 13 areas; at least 20 percent of targeted indicators have not been achieved, and there is no way these indicators will be achieved in 2022, either.
Rostec has shown modest results in its areas of responsibility. I know, my colleagues will start talking about lack of funds or something but I am simply stating the facts about what is happening today with the projects on creating the fifth generation networks and the development of equipment for large-scale implementation of the Internet of Things. As for the project on developing microelectronics, it had to be completely reloaded last year.
I consider it sensible to make a deputy prime minister responsible for every area. Mr Belousov is responsible for everything here, in all areas, but it seems to me that it would be wise if every Deputy Prime Minister was put in charge of a particular area under his supervision, and I would like to ask Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to follow up on what is happening there later on.
Considering the current requirements of our economy, we must set forth more ambitious targets. As I have already said, I would like to ask the Prime Minister to take special responsibility for the implementation of high-tech areas – as has already happened in the case of microelectronics. The first steps have been made and I hope the work will soon become more intensive.
An exclusive reliance on public companies does not always produce the desired effect, as always happens, of course, in a market economy. I consider it important to involve private businesses in the projects on developing end-to-end technology.
The second direction is large-scale digital transformation. It must permeate every industry, company, the social sphere and the system of government and municipal administration. It must become part of life of every person and every family.
Last year, the Government adopted 11 strategies for digital transformation. It is important to orient all of them to specific results stemming from the broad introduction of digital technology. Every industry is simply obliged to reach them in the near future and beyond – until 2030. I would like to emphasise that now their implementation must be accompanied by the development of domestic technology and software.
Third, many rapidly growing Russian technology companies, like Ozon or Yandex, for example, funded their development by attracting resources from Western financial markets. Let’s put it straight – the Russian financial system was not ready to provide resources to companies without assets or big profits even when they had good prospects for development. Thus, according to available information, Ozon has sustained losses for almost 20 years, but during the past year its sales have approached half a trillion rubles and are bound to exceed one trillion next year.
As I said, these domestic companies actively used Western financial institutions with which there are well-known difficulties now – we no longer have access to them.
We need to quickly create mechanisms in the Russian financial system that can allow rapidly growing Russian companies to attract domestic capital for development. I am hoping to hear substantive proposals from the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Russia that oversee financial market operations.
The fourth area is to improve the quality of education for engineers and IT specialists. A new level of quality in training personnel is a priority; we will have no technological future without resolving this.
It is necessary to do this at schools. At any rate, it should start at schools. Incidentally, international academic competitions have just ended and our students, as you probably know, saw impressive success there. They won all five medals in physics and three gold and three silver medals in maths. My heartfelt congratulations to the winners. Well done!
According to the Ministry of Digital Development, by 2024 the IT area could be short of one million people. The demand for modern, highly qualified engineers is also growing. I have to say that we are badly short of them too. Thankfully – I believe the Minister [of Science and Higher Education] will take the floor now – the number of students choosing engineering professions is still rising and it is rising substantially.
Obviously, it is necessary to increase substantially the budget funding for educating such specialists. True, we are already doing this, but judging by the forecasts, we must continue building up these efforts and expanding the programmes for updating academic and laboratory equipment, developing university campuses and repairing dormitories.
Naturally, I would like to hear today detailed messages and reports on each of the above areas. But, please, do not talk about anything that has only been done on paper. You know that strengthening the regulatory framework, laws, other regulations, resolutions and procedures for coordinating various documents are all very interesting issues but only for us. We need clear, specific, explicit solutions that can be translated into reality quickly.
Let’s be guided by this approach in our current work.
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