11 february 2011

Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Minister of Healthcare and Social Development Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Nadezhda Gerasimova, Chairperson of the State Duma Committee on Healthcare Olga Borzova, and Deputy Chairperson of the State Duma Committee on Labour and Social Policy Farida Gainullina

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. You know how much attention we have been paying to demography, motherhood, and child-rearing in recent years. These issues also featured prominently in last year’s presidential address. One of the bills initiated by our members of parliament is intended to solve precisely these issues. This bill has a very long title, and, in essence, it concerns the payment of temporary benefits associated with maternity. This bill was discussed by the State Duma, the public, and the expert community for a long time. It was finally adopted today. First, I would like to thank you, and, second, I want to hear its final version. The reason is that in the course of discussion, any bill receives a great number of proposals and comments from members of parliament and is often subject to modification.

You know that we had lengthy discussions in the government regarding this issue. There were different versions and proposals. I want to repeat: the bill has been passed, and that is the first thing, but the second thing is that I want you to tell me how the work progressed and what its results were.

Nadezhda Gerasimova: Mr Prime Minister, following up on your directive, MPs from United Russia developed amendments to this bill in cooperation with the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development and public organisations. This work went on for quite some time. Today the State Duma passed the third and final draft of this legislation. As a result, women who are going on maternity leave and improving the demographic situation in our country – as you know, the population grew by 1.6% last year – will now be able to rest easy. That’s because there is now a two year period during which a woman has the right to choose how to calculate her pregnancy, maternity and childcare benefits. It can be based either on an average monthly wage for one year…

Vladimir Putin: The last year before she goes on maternity leave…

Nadezhda Gerasimova: Yes, or the last two years – whichever the woman chooses. This procedure is set forth under the current regulations, which expire on December 31, 2012. The new ones take effect on January 1, 2013. According to them, the value of the benefits is based on the woman’s average monthly wage during her time of employment. The new procedure does not take into account the length of the maternity leave period. The two-year cut-off is still factored in, but if it falls on the period during which the woman was on maternity leave, it is deducted…

Remark: Was on sick leave…

Nadezhda Gerasimova: Was on sick leave taking care of her child… Received additional benefits taking care of a child with a disability… Or if, for example, the company where she worked suspended operations or operations were restricted… the period when she did not work is eliminated. It will be calculated…

Vladimir Putin: Everything that could reduce the value of maternity and child care allowances is calculated based on an average wage?

Nadezhda Gerasimova: Yes, and it is eliminated. So we believe that all the issues have been resolved. We discussed this problem and made a decision to monitor the situation over the next two years and propose amendments if necessary. But we think that everything will be alright.

Tatyana Golikova: I’d like to add that we calculated the amount required for these purposes. The expenses of the Social Insurance Fund are expected to total as much as 16.1 billion roubles in 2011 and 26 billion roubles in 2012. The difference between these two values, 10 billion roubles, seems high prima facie, but it is an objective necessity. This is because the budget will have to bear an extra burden after the first year…

We raised this issue with the Ministry of Finance when the legislation was being discussed in the State Duma and when we prepared an expert evaluation of this legislation. The Ministry agreed to reimburse the Social Insurance Fund for the expenses on payments, allotting the necessary sum from the federal budget. There will be no interruptions or delays in the payments of childbirth allowances and allowances on child care for the first 18 months. We will report back on the performance of these initiatives to you.

Vladimir Putin: I have one more question. You and I agreed that we would backdate the introduction of this procedure to January 1, 2011.

Remark: And we did.

Remark: This is why, Mr Prime Minister, Russian women can now give birth to more children than last year.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent.

Remark: The decisions made for the interim period have taken effect already and are applicable to all legal relationships effective since January 1.

Vladimir Putin: Everyone who was underpaid…

Tatyana Golikova: Even if some didn’t receive the full amount in January, it has been recalculated already… All the directives have been issued.

Vladimir Putin: So it will be recalculated and all the additional payments will be made?

Nadezhda Gerasimova: Absolutely. Women will be offered the choice between two schemes for calculating their allowances so that they understand which is better for them.

Olga Borzova: This legislation is of great social significance. It is yet another step forward in the care of pregnant women and women with small children. I’d like to emphasise that the government, in particular the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development, has contributed a great deal to the construction of prenatal centres. We have recently toured these centres in Kirov and Tver. These are not just excellent facilities – their staff is taking advantage of the latest technology. This helps a woman adapt easily to new conditions. These centres offer quality and affordable medical care, which is so important today. Moreover, we have a birth certificate programme underway… Overall, this legislation largely defuses social tensions.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank God. There is, however, one problem that I asked United Russia members in the Duma to address. I am referring to the bill on the delineation of responsibilities for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle between federal and regional governments. The bill was passed at its the second reading.

Tatyana Golikova: We continue to delineate the responsibilities…

Farida Gainullina: This bill was passed in the second reading today, Mr Prime Minister. It was supported by our party in the Duma, despite the attempts of our opponents to raise objections and doubts, which were unjustified, in my opinion. I think it’s because the elections are nearing. In any case, at its second reading, this bill…

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we’ll need to… I’ll raise the issue with Boris Gryzlov and our other colleagues in order to see how to build relations with the regions on the issue. It is important to delineate these responsibilities not only on paper. We should work together on these issues so that everyone performs his or her function effectively.

Tatyana Golikova: It is extremely important, Mr Prime Minister. We all understand that it is our sacred duty to perform these responsibilities for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. However, when we embarked on this programme through the priority national project two years ago and provided subsidies to regions for this purpose, technically, we did not have this responsibility. We just did what we should have done. Currently, regions are paying greater attention to disease prevention through health centres for children and adults and through healthcare modernisation programmes that will be launched soon. Strange as it may seem, we have to admit that even in those regions that have prevention centres for alcohol and drug addiction and suicides, related death rates remain quite high. We must pay specific attention to these problems and do everything in our power to resolve them, as we are doing now.

Nadezhda Gerasimova: Mr Prime Minister, on March 2 we will hold the roundtable “Healthy Cities, Districts, and Villages” to discuss the construction of fitness and recreational complexes, three programmes for healthcare, roads, amenities and the environment… In addition to these issues, we will focus on childhood problems and security. These issues do overlap with health. We will discuss them in every detail. I will personally moderate one such roundtable.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent. I fully expect our legislators and representatives in the regions to pay all possible attention to the problems of mothers and their children, demographic issues, health, physical fitness, and sports. These are our fundamental priorities.