17 december 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin discusses social benefits, transportation and healthcare with Magadan Region residents

The meeting was held under the auspices of the United Russia party chairman’s public reception office.

Transcript of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Have a seat, please. The governor is here, too. You do not have any questions that you would rather ask in private, do you?

Raisa Veber (head of the Magadan Social and Education Centre): Of course, not.

Remark: Not really.

Vladimir Putin: Not really, meaning that there are in fact some secret questions? All right, you can whisper them in my ear later.

Raisa Veber: My name is Raisa Veber, I am the director of the Social and Education Centre.

Vladimir Putin: Are you of German descent?

Raisa Veber: No, I am Russian.

Vladimir Putin: Weber is a common last name in Germany.

Raisa Veber: Veber is my married name. As a pensioner and I am interested in the following issue. For two years now, pensioners over the age of 60 in our region have been able to take advantage of subsidised transportation tariffs on the routes from Magadan to Vladivistok, Moscow and St Petersburg. We would really appreciate if you considered the possibility of lowering the retirement age for the residents of the northern regions. That would help to raise the standard of living in the region further.

Vladimir Putin: In fact, we have just discussed this issue and decided to lower the retirement age for women to 55. We have also agreed to consider in the near future the possibility of lowering the retirement age further. But for now, we have decided that the retirement age for women will be lowered to 55. That's the first thing I wanted to tell you.

Second, we are planning to launch a new route. As the governor explained, it would be very convenient for the region's residents to get subsidised fares on trips to Khabarovsk since there are quite a few options for traveling from there to other regions in the country, using air, rail and even motor transport. Therefore, after consulting with Governor Nikolai Dudov, I have announced that we will be launching a subsidised route from Magadan to Khabarovsk.

Raisa Veber: Thank you. Of course, adding a new rout to Khabarovsk is very good, but it would also be very helpful if such routes could be opened to Novosibirsk and Krasnodar, since we have direct flights there.

Vladimir Putin: We'll think about that. But, as I said, today we have already decided to launch a route to Khaboravsk. We'll see what else we can do in the future.

Raisa Veber: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Go ahead, please.

Alexander Bessmolkin (pensioner, labour veteran): Good afternoon, Mr Putin. My name is Alexander Bessmolkin and I am a pensioner. I was born in the North and devoted my entire life to the North. Thanks to the measures taken by the government in recent years, we have been able to offset the cost of our holiday travels. Thank you very much for that. People are now able to afford holiday flights.

There are no questions regarding the reimbursement of the incurred expenses. People submit their tickets and get reimbursed. Since November, the procedure has been simplified even further as the requirement to present the documents confirming the residence in the region has been cancelled. That works well for those who can afford to buy the tickets at their own expense.

However, to receive an advance compensation coupon at the Pension Fund, a pensioner needs to present either a tourist voucher or a certified invitation from an individual residing in the region of the intended travel. Buying a tourist voucher is very difficult for a pensioner.

Vladimir Putin: What's that for? I did not even know that for a discount ticket you either need a tourist voucher or ...

Alexander Bessmolkin: You need it to get a coupon for purchasing a discount ticket. Otherwise, you need an invitation. It's difficult to buy a coupon because they are quite expensive. Obtaining an invitation is also complicated, as not everyone has relatives in the country's central regions.

Vladimir Putin: You need it in order to take advantage of the promotional period?

Remark: In order to buy a ticket through the Pension Fund, they ask that you present a document confirming that the person is traveling to the central regions...

Alexander Bessmolkin: you need to provide an advance confirmation of your trip.

Remark: It's overly bureaucratic.

Vladimir Putin: It certainly is.

Alexander Bessmolkin: I would like to request that Law 176 is amended to simplify the procedure for obtaining coupons.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Bessmolkin, I can't say right now how we will do it, but we will definitely do it.

Alexander Bessmolkin: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Clearly, the procedure is excessively bureaucratic. Besides, why do you need to present any documents confirming that you have been invited by someone or that you have a tourist voucher? When I proposed this programme several years ago, the idea was that people should be able to travel anywhere they want. This is clearly an excessive requirement. We will remedy it. Please.

Oleg Proshkin (head of the Freedom of Choice public organisation of motorists): Mr Putin, my name is Oleg Proshkin, I am the head of the Magadan branch of the Freedom of Choice motorists' organization, representing the majority of motorists in Magadan and the Magadan Region.

We are very concerned about the issue of vehicles imported at discount customs rates under the provisions of the special economic zone in Magadan. The point is that these vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses, can only be used within the special economic zone, which covers an area of 75 km around the city of Magadan.

To travel in the region beyond that area, you need to pay an excise tax. Traveling beyond the borders of the region is completely prohibited, meaning that we can't travel anywhere.

Vladimir Putin: I believe the point of these restrictions is not to prohibit traveling outside the Magadan Region, but to prevent the resale of these vehicles.

Oleg Proshkin: There is the successful experience of Kaliningrad, where vehicles registered in the region can move freely across the country but they must be registered in Kaliningrad. That could have solved the issue here as well. Importing vehicles under the special economic zone terms will soon be prohibited by new legislation. As for the cars that were imported earlier, essentially they present no threat to the market, as they are mostly too old – that's a specific feature of our region.

Vladimir Putin: Will they be importing new cars?

Oleg Proshkin: They will be, but since we have joined the Common Economic Space with Belarus and Kazakhstan, there should be the same laws for all members.

Vladimir Putin: That's right. So you are requesting that the vehicles that have already been purchased be allowed to travel freely.

Oleg Proshkin: That's right. Since they have been imported already, it would be good to allow them to travel across the Magadan Region. There are not so many of them. In addition, it will promote automobile tourism and people could travel... This also applies to specialised vehicles, trucks...

Vladimir Putin: And trucks, too?

Oleg Proshkin: Yes, trucks and bulldozers can't travel beyond the restricted area either.

Vladimir Putin: How many units of equipment are there approximately?

Oleg Proshkin: Very few. Over this period, 40 motorcycles, 150 buses and up to 1,000 trucks have been imported, so it's not a large number.

Vladimir Putin: All right, we will deal with this issue.

Oleg Proshkin: Thank you.

Oksana Aleinik: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. My name is Oksana Aleinik, I am deputy chief physician for therapy at the City Children's Hospital. My question is as follows. In 2010, the hospital launched a project to renovate and thoroughly modernise the Surgery Department (30 beds) and the Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Department (7 beds). For these purposes, about 40 million roubles were allocated under the modernisation programme and an additional 150 million from the municipal budget.

Vladimir Putin: 40 million roubles is...

Oksana Aleinik: About 40 million roubles under the modernisation programme.

Vladimir Putin: When was that?

Oksana Aleinik: Since 2010.

Nikolai Dudov: These funds have been spent already.

Vladimir Putin: You mean the funds for modernisation? Why so little?

Nikolai Dudov (Magadan Region governor): That figure is for one hospital only but we have many healthcare facilities.

Oksana Aleinik: For these departments to start functioning, we need to furnish them with additional equipment, including medical furniture, small instruments, intra-hospital infection prevention equipment, and special children's burn beds for the post-surgical treatment of patients. We need about 13 million roubles for these purposes.

Vladimir Putin: I see. We do have reserve funds, and we will certainly provide the required amount, which is not large, from the reserve funds under this programme.

Oksana Aleinik: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: But please put it in writing, all right?

Nikolai Dudov: Certainly.

Oksana Aleinik: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You are welcome. You had some secret question, didn't you? Do you still have it?

Remark: The secret has been revealed.

Vladimir Putin: All the best to you.

Oksana Aleinik: Thank you very much.

* * *

After his meeting with the region’s residents, which was held under the auspices of the United Russia Chairman’s Reception Office, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also talked with the people waiting for him outside the Office.