19 october 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov discussed the budget for 2011 and subsequent years. Having mentioned the main parameters of this document, Mr Putin said, “We would really like to stay within these parameters and avoid increasing the budget deficit.” And in connection with this, he expressed his wish that the Communist Party in the State Duma work on the draft budget seriously, as always.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Zyuganov, I've already discussed the draft budget that is currently being reviewed in the State Duma with United Russia and now I'd like to talk about it with you. I'd like your party in the State Duma to study this document carefully, which is the most important economic law for next year and for 2012-2013. I'd like to discuss with you in more detail all of the draft budget's major parameters and parts, primarily concerning the social issues - healthcare, education, the adjustment of incomes for inflation in different fields, and defence.

As you know, the GDP will be 50.4 trillion roubles and the level of inflation is expected to be 6.5%. We think the budget deficit will be about 3.6% next year. Budget revenues will amount to 8.8 trillion roubles and expenses to 10.7 trillion roubles. We would really like to stay within these parameters and avoid increasing the budget deficit. It is a very important indicator that points to the stability of our economy. In this respect, we stand out from many of the so-called developed market economies of the world. There is no doubt that this is a self-made competitive advantage for us.

I hope that your party in the State Duma takes this seriously, as always. This attitude may be critical but...

Gennady Zyuganov: I like how you said "as always."

Vladimir Putin:
Yes, this is true.

Gennady Zyuganov: We've always been very serious about the budget.

Vladimir Putin: This is true but you act like the character in the famous animated cartoon "Baba Yaga is Against." You are against everything.

Gennady Zyuganov: To the contrary, we suggested our own version of the draft budget. Yesterday we saw Mr. Kudrin with his team. He came for the first time and brought with him practically every ministry and department head. For two hours we discussed in detail all 14 sections of the draft budget and our party and our deputies took it very seriously. We had analyzed each part of the draft in advance, consulted major experts and invited some of our best former ministers, specialists, industrialists and entrepreneurs. We expressed our opinion about each part of the draft.

Participants in yesterday's meeting raised very professional questions and primarily insisted on more effective modernization. This is a great idea and it requires reliable funding. Everything related to the real economy received our vigorous support. Serious comments were made about areas agriculture and forestry because it is clear that the budget still has a hole in it and lacks the proper funds for this highly important industry. Yesterday we told him directly: "We import $35-40 billion worth of foodstuffs. We could support our producers, and we should support them."

We thoroughly reviewed all the problems involved with sophisticated equipment, the aviation industry, machine-tool building, mechanical engineering and the manufacture of agricultural machinery. We made our own proposals and suggested interesting solutions after visiting major plants and other enterprises. You've been to many of them yourself and have seen that many of them are in need of support.

We have considered every social issue, first of all, education. We believe that it is necessary to invest more and improve our involvement in this field and showed how this is done everywhere else.

Some time ago I went to the Shanghai exhibition together with Medvedev. It is a competition of the best technologies and brilliant achievements from all over the world. I noticed that practically every country allots enormous funding for modernization and education. Barack Obama, for one, has earmarked $400 billion for modernization and the European Union, $270 billion.

We reviewed a number of the draft's sections where investment could and should be made. We are very concerned that in the section on healthcare even sick leaves depend on the length of one's service. One has to work for 15 years to be fully compensated. And for a pregnant woman to receive compensation... This item must be corrected by all means, otherwise our population won't grow.

In general, we have discussed every detail. I must say there is a lot of work to do before the second reading, and it can be conducted well enough.

Vladimir Putin: Okay, let's talk about individual sections.