Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov


During the meeting, the officials discussed the results of the joint work of the State Duma and the government in 2010 and discussed plans for the future. According to the prime minister, the performance of the country’s economy is proof that all in all their “joint work has been efficient.”

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Gryzlov, the year is coming to an end. We agreed that we would meet to draw some conclusions on the joint work of the government and the State Duma. I wouldn’t use words like ‘turnaround’ or ‘major victory’ but we did manage to overcome the negative trends this year. Today two of my deputies reported to the State Duma on the anti-crisis measures which we devised and were carrying out together.

I should say that I am convinced that – and the bare facts confirm it – all in all we have managed to efficiently use the funds that we set aside to counter the crisis. It was a significant amount – 295 billion roubles. This year the economy has begun growing rather than shrinking. We have seen a significant growth in industrial production. The number of Russians living below the poverty line has decreased. The people’s real incomes have risen, including wages and pensions. This was one of this year’s most important social decisions. And this all was accompanied by a reduction in unemployment: the number of unemployed dropped by 1 million people.

Speaking about the basic economic parameters that are used to assess an economy’s performance, including growth of the economy itself and changes in unemployment, our reserves have grown. The Central Bank released the following data today: our reserves are approaching 500 billion roubles, they are at about 480 billion roubles. All of this demonstrates – I would like to emphasise this – that all in all our joint work has been efficient. Naturally, many problems still remain and we need to keep up with the pace we have established and maintain our constructive cooperation. This cooperation has helped us respond promptly to various events and make decisions despite the fact that State Duma deputies and some government members differ in their approaches. I would like to thank you and all deputies for this.

Boris Gryzlov: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I would like to discuss our plans for work after the New Year. I know that you have a large portfolio of bills in front of you, including those submitted by the government and the president and those initiated by deputies themselves. I would like to speak about what is to be done in the near future rather than only of what has already been done.

Boris Gryzlov: Thank you, Mr Putin, above all for your evaluation of our work. Indeed, we have been working very hard. During the autumn session we adopted 203 bills – an absolute record for the autumn session of our Duma, I believe. Adopting a bill is not our ultimate goal – experience shows what needs to be corrected and what new regulations are needed. And we have been doing this. I would like to point out how constructive our cooperation with the government was in the zero reading of the budget. The federal budget is always the most important piece of legislation in the autumn session.

In particular, I would like to point out a very serious adjustment to expenses for the support of agriculture made as part of zero reading. The initially proposed figures made only 60% of the amount entered into the state programme on the support of agriculture, and they managed to find the resources to bring this figure into compliance with the state programme of agriculture support. I think that this year, when we had fires and drought, agriculture needs support as never before. And probably the GDP growth in 2010, which is currently estimated at about 4%, could have been greater, if not for the losses that we have suffered in agriculture.

Vladimir Putin: Exactly. It would have been larger.

Boris Gryzlov: Yes. In general, we understand that the turning point in the situation caused by the economic crisis has been reached: both the economy and industry are developing. We, the State Duma deputies, can see our role in it too, because we adopted necessary laws in support of the economy in timely manner.

Also important is that this year we have given all the parties an opportunity to speak from Duma rostrum. We have discussed a very important issue concerning labour relations and possible amendments to the Labour Code. In addition to our parliamentary groups there were three other registered parties, and we have received some material good enough for turning it into amendments to the Labour Code, just what we are working on now. These amendments will probably be discussed during our spring session.

We have also considered many issues related to children. This matter is of great importance and very many laws have been adopted. The point is that we have urged the federal budget to support kindergartens. Clearly, this issue mainly refers to the regional or even municipal level. Nevertheless, we have earmarked 500 million roubles in the federal budget for the purpose, and it will encourage regional authorities to contribute their funds and give this issue priority. Therefore, the children’s issue was important at the autumn session and will retain importance next spring.

In fact, we have to implement many issues bearing on the economy. It was decided this year to increase insurance fees. It is a necessary condition for the support of both the Pension Fund and, more importantly, the Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund. The target amount, of about 460 billion roubles for two years, which may be raised through an increase in insurance fees, will be applied to modernise healthcare. It was your idea voiced this past April in your governmental report for the preceding year to the State Duma. We have made the arrangements on this issue and it is to be implemented next year. In the context of that increase, just this week we have adopted a law providing certain privileges to small businesses engaged in production, i.e. operating in real sectors or rendering social services. We have eased their tax burden by reducing it from 34% to 26%. I believe that this is a substantial support for small businesses, which should within the next two years at least get used to the idea that such fees will be higher. It is a normal transition period. So, we understand that there are many tasks for the next year and we are ready to fulfil them.

Vladimir Putin: I am grateful to the State Duma deputies for their professional work on the budget, because there are very many dangers still. We are talking about certain signs of change for the better. However, there are still very many dangers existing both in the global and in our economy. I am grateful to the deputies because most of you understand today’s realities and are ready for a conservative forecast regarding our revenues, including those from fuels. However, I must say it bluntly that we see the percentages of our revenues as future reduction in oil and gas proceeds and increase in the income from other economic sectors. Actually, we are making small steps in that direction. We proceed from $75 for a barrel of oil while in our cost estimates we proceed from $70 per barrel. For this reason we had to recalculate many parameters and costs in some industries bearing in mind that social obligations, including indexing, must be met in full, so the relevant indexing, including for state-financed employees and students, have to be accounted for in the next year’s budget. Yes, I know that it was hard and painful to do. Members of the government do it almost with tears in their eyes. As for the deputies, they are so emotional….

Boris Gryzlov: Yes, it takes a lot of shouting in the Duma.

Vladimir Putin: And everything happens in a different format. Nevertheless, this most important document regulating a considerable part of the country’s economic activity was adopted in time. I hope very much that we will work further, after the New Year, as in an equally constructive manner.

Boris Gryzlov: Thank you.

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