Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on providing better social services for certain groups of population
23 july 2008
Mr Putin's opening remarks:
Today we are going to consider social support for war and combat veterans, Leningrad siege survivors, Chernobyl victims, and disabled persons.
We are to decide what we shall do in this key sphere in 2009 and how we will continue the job in 2010 and further on.
Mind you: these problems concern 17 million of our people, yes, 17 million.
And we must not only map our road ahead, but also send clear signals to the regions, because regarding drug purchases we should start right now. Before the end of the year, all regional authorities must hold tenders to avoid the kind of mishaps we had early this year.
Under Russian law, these 17 million people are entitled to a monthly cash grant or a package of social services, including provision of drugs, treatment at and travel to health resorts, and commuter services.
We believe such social support must be targeted and effective, increase their incomes and improve their quality of life.
Therefore we should take a closer look at what we must do to make our future efforts more effective - in 2010 and beyond.
For this purpose, to solve these problems, we have decided to give our people freedom to choose. So that they themselves opt either for extra money, or a set of social services, depending on their life experience.
We know that even the allocated federal resources, massive as they are, cannot plug all gaps and stop all holes. This is what we must also consider and discuss today.
A point to remember: all social services are indexed every year.
Another point is that despite the pains we take we still have some unresolved financial problems with agencies providing the services, including free travel. Problems also plague us on drugs - demand for them is still not fully met.
I repeat we must look for new and more effective ways of providing social services for our citizens. The most important thing is not to cut the existing level of social support.
Our meeting today will be concerned exclusively with nuts and bolts issues, but I hope that the fundamental issues we have gathered to address will ultimately be solved. I repeat once more, we must ourselves in this Government decide what's what and send appropriate signals to the regions.