28 may 2012

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev holds conference with his deputies

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that from now on, such conferences will be held on Mondays so that “we can discuss any current issues in a timely manner as well as to prepare for government meetings and Government Presidium meetings.”

Transcript of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, I would like to wholeheartedly welcome you all here today. We are launching a new way of working today. We will be holding weekly conferences, on Mondays, with all deputy prime ministers attending, so that we can discuss any current issues in a timely manner and perhaps certain problems that need to be addressed during the week, as well as to prepare for government meetings and Government Presidium meetings.

Government and Government Presidium meetings will be held on Thursdays, as has been the practice here for the past two decades, so we will be in regular contact. Given the distribution of responsibilities which I signed, we need to discuss the entire range of issues. So a lot will depend on our meetings.

I would like to focus on two points during the first part of our conference today. One of them concerns the efficiency of government spending. I am referring to a plan of action for implementing the corresponding programme for 2012, which needs to be approved. This plan was drafted based on earlier work done in this area. To be honest, government spending is not as efficient as we would like it to be at this stage, although we are taking steps to introduce methods based on the programme-target approach, and also to create a more systematic framework for this work. Mr Shuvalov [addressing Igor Shuvalov], you were involved in these efforts. Perhaps you could say a couple of words on this, it would be helpful.

Igor Shuvalov: Mr Medvedev, you signed a government executive order approving the plan of measures regarding the development of the government programme for improving the efficiency of budget spending. The programme was adopted by the Government in 2010 and is scheduled to be in force in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The proposed plan outlines the main government tasks for 2012, as well as important events such as the adoption of the fiscal rules, on which we reported to you at a meeting with the experts.

Dmitry Medvedev: This is what we will begin working on in the very near future, at the next meeting.

Igor Shuvalov: Exactly. This kind of fiscal rule is intended to be included in the legislation by the middle of 2012 before the end of the spring session of the State Duma. We also expect the government to make active efforts in 2012 to work out state programmes, and for their drafts to be made available online so that they can be publicly discussed. We have to complete work on these programmes by the end of the year, as many as we can. When you addressed the State Duma, you mentioned that at least five such programmes should be developed and approved by the government. Together with our colleagues, deputy ministers and ministers, we will make every effort to work through as many of these programmes as possible.

The programme approach changes the way budget proceeds are spent. Previously, we worked with federal targeted programmes and departmental programmes. Now, the methods of the programme approach have been altered, which has made it more complicated for the authorities as it requires a transition from the previous federal targeted programmes to state programmes. But on the other hand, all outgoings at the federal, regional and other levels are consolidated and become fully transparent, which makes it possible to determine the purposes of budget spending.  The programme methodology has now been changed. On the one hand, the situation is becoming more difficult for departments because we must now convert from previous federal targeted programmes to state programmes. But on the other hand, all federal, regional and other spending is being consolidated and is becoming absolutely transparent. Specific objectives that are due to receive budgetary funding are being determined. Consequently, we are trying to learn how more effectively to disburse funding. At one point, you had noted that it was necessary to boost effectiveness as soon as possible and to bring the purchase expenses of goods and services down to 10-15%. All this fits neatly into our work, which is to be done in the next few months. You have signed this executive order, and we are starting to work in line with this action plan.

Dmitry Medvedev: All right, Mr Shuvalov, but you and I realise that such work will not be completed in a day. You see, such work includes general systematisation and efforts to facilitate more optimal and more transparent budgetary spending. The element of corruption should also be mentioned in this context. There are various estimates of this aspect, which also influences the efficiency of spending. I would like you to assess this aspect as well.

And now I would like to brief you on the second issue, which has been mentioned repeatedly during my trips to the North Caucasus. I would like to remind you that I signed a decree on establishing the North Caucasus Federal University in July 2011. The leaders of the republics had repeatedly suggested this idea to me. Quite recently, the rector of this university was appointed by a government executive order and he already started working. It should be admitted that the university’s ten-year development programme is quite ambitious, but this is in line with our ideology to improve the overall situation at Russian universities. Speaking of the North Caucasus, I cannot conceal the fact that the quality of education is different there, and that there are various higher educational institutions and various lecturers there. Nevertheless, we must try and create such an educational centre within the North Caucasus Federal University that will have the best educators. Naturally, the material-technical base of this university, which is being established on the basis of several higher educational institutions, will improve. Student education mobility, a highly important aspect for the North Caucasus, will also be ensured. I hope that, in the long run, the university will become a major educational and methodological centre of the North Caucasus Federal District. Mr Khloponin (Addressing Alexander Khloponin), you were one of the authors of this idea. I remember how you contacted me, and how we met in your district and in Moscow. What is the current situation there?

Alexander Khloponin: Mr Medvedev, a programme for the development of the North Caucasus Federal University up to 2021 has been drafted as per your instruction. The programme calls for two basic stages lasting from 2012 until 2016 and from 2016 until 2021, respectively.  During the first stage three federal higher educational institutions will either merge or serve as a basis for the establishment of the federal university. I am talking about the North Caucasus State Technical University, the Stavropol State University and the Pyatigorsk State University of Humanities and Technology. We have launched this organisational and technical process. Right now, we are drawing up legal documents, transferring assets and reorganising the North Caucasus Federal University. In all, seven billion roubles will be allocated by 2016, including five billion roubles’ worth of federal funding. The Stavropol Territory will contribute 1.4 billion roubles. And the remaining 600 million roubles will come from extra-budgetary sources. Correspondingly, the new university will enrol over 37,000 students. It is a large educational establishment with a faculty of more than 2,500 lecturers, including professors. This is slightly below the standards that we need to attain.

In addition to basic subjects and professions that we are teaching to our young people, such as nanotechnology, new materials, biomedical and pharmaceutical technologies, biotechnologies, etc., we will also be employing a fundamentally new approach to such novel spheres of education as theology, Islamic studies and resort development. This is of fundamental importance to us, as it concerns the system of education that we are developing. We are making the necessary preparations for this. All the administrative and technical decisions have been made. Tomorrow I will present the new rector of the federal university to the educational community in Stavropol. I believe that we will be able to report the first results of this work to you by September.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. I hope that it will truly become a good university, a modern school with a good faculty and active students, because as I said, not all higher schools located in the Caucasus are equally good. We understand that we can improve the situation in education in the country, including in the Caucasus, only by creating a large centre of university education. I have said before that we have too many universities, and that their number should be logically reduced by incorporating them into large university complexes. It should be a steady process that will not have a negative impact on the curriculum, knowledge and the students who have been enrolled at higher educational establishments. This issue concerns not only the Caucasus but the whole of the country. Ms Golodets (Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister), this also means that you should focus priority attention on this issue.

There are also other issues we will discuss today, including our joint plans of action for the immediate future and until the end of the year. Thank you.