Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chairs a government meeting
Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, I would like to begin by discussing some current issues. I travelled across Siberia earlier this week and visited South Ossetia yesterday. I’ve got many impressions from the Siberian trip, where I had many meetings and conferences to discuss the work of air transport (regional aviation), railway transport, the coal industry and fire safety. I issued a series of instructions, which you will receive later. There is a lot of work ahead there.
A few words about railways: we will have to develop a better pricing policy to improve the industry’s efficiency and increase financing for infrastructure projects.
In coal mining, there clearly need to be improvements in the quality of the development of deposits, as well as in efficiency and miners’ living standards.
In air transport and regional flights, improvements need to be made in the infrastructure, on the one hand, as well as the development of a new Russian regional airliner, which we don’t yet have and as a result of which we are forced to find substitutes.
As for South Ossetia, we will naturally provide further assistance for the area’s restoration. The government changed recently there: a new president has been elected, whom I met for talks yesterday.
So what are our immediate priorities? My instructions for all federal ministries and agencies that are involved in projects in South Ossetia is to review these projects with their local partners, and determine the priorities for each one: many projects that were launched there have never been completed. This work is to be coordinated by the Ministry of Regional Development. Mr Govorun (Oleg Govorun, Minister of Regional Development) accompanied me on my visit to South Ossetia yesterday, and I expect a group representing all ministries involved in this work to fly to Tskhinval as soon as next week, in order to assess the progress of the projects there. I do mean at the very beginning of next week. Our colleagues in South Ossetia are ready for their visit. I expect the Regional Development Ministry to present an action plan for the work to be conducted jointly with the republic’s government.
Now on to today’s agenda: The first issue is something that concerns the majority of people: migration. More than 8 million foreign citizens came to Russia in the first six months of 2012 alone. The country now has 10 million immigrants. These estimates are quite rough, but in any case this figure is comparable with the population of a megalopolis like Moscow. Our main goal is to create a civilised and balanced labour market, something we have failed to accomplish at this stage, and provide our economy with a qualified workforce. Migration is an ongoing process. It should not be feared, but it needs to be managed, and this is probably the most important part. Our people also settle abroad and regrettably, for the most part, these people have higher education and professional skills. Meanwhile, we have to deal with guest workers with low qualifications. They barely speak Russian and very often know nothing about our laws and culture. So, there is a lot of work ahead.
We must invite foreign workers to do jobs that are in high demand in our economy, but not at the expense of those of our own people who may wish to do them. In other words, we must invite them to do jobs that our people are not claiming.
It is important to prevent all kinds of negative consequences of migration, such as the formation of foreign-worker enclaves. This is a negative phenomenon.
Our state migration policy does not yet fully account for these goals and changes that are taking place in the world. I’d like to emphasise in this context that we must drastically change the way that we run our migration processes. This is the aim of the concept of our migration policy until 2025, which we discussed at a meeting of the Security Council last April. The President has already endorsed it, and the government has been instructed to draft and approve the plan for its implementation. On the one hand, all measures envisaged in this plan should help us enforce law and order, and should toughen punishment for those who violate migration laws, including in the form of criminal responsibility. On the other hand, these measures should give additional preferences to law-abiding and qualified guest workers that are in demand on the labour market. We must also give the green light to foreign businessmen and highly-skilled specialists, teachers and scientists, and facilitate student migration.
There are two things we must keep in mind – the Common Economic Space with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the Far East. The latter is located far away and, unfortunately, we don’t have many people there and must protect it from the excessive expansion of people from neighbouring countries.
One more item on our agenda today is a draft concept of the Federal Targeted Programme (FTP) on Fire Safety in the Russian Federation until 2017. The government is constantly keeping an eye on the issue of forest fires. I’ve just conducted a meeting in Tomsk on this score. This summer forest fires are again a major problem for us – in terms of the number of fires, we are at the same level as in 2011, but the area hit by them is one fifth larger than last year. Things are particularly bad in the Urals and Siberia.
Let me recall that in 2010 we adopted a package of measures that produced positive results. To speak openly, we would not have been successful in fighting fires this year if we hadn’t adopted any measures in 2010, when we bought the equipment, trained employees of the Emergencies Ministry and established volunteer fire-fighting teams. All of these measures helped, of course, but we still have many problems. We must now carry out the FTP by 2017. Its importance is reflected in its substantial funding. In all, more than 200 billion roubles will be spent on this programme: 35 billion from the federal budget, 112 billion from regional budgets and 55 billion (also a big sum) from non-budget sources.
Another important draft law that we will discuss today has to do with regular transportation of passengers and luggage by motor transport along interregional routes. This issue is not properly regulated by law, and it also has a direct bearing on the absolute majority of our people, the quality of transportation services for them and, most importantly, their safety. Many people use regular long-distance buses. The Transportation Ministry has prepared an interesting draft that has evoked a professional response from people who are concerned about this issue. It was also discussed on the Open Government portal. So we will make a decision on this.
And, finally, one unpleasant matter – yet another problem with our satellites. I don’t know what caused their loss – an upper stage mishap, some mechanical failure, simply the typical negligence, or all of these put together, but we cannot afford to tolerate this any longer. We are losing prestige and billions of roubles. I’d like to hold a meeting on this subject next week. A deputy prime minister in charge of this area, along with relevant agencies, will prepare it. They must tell us what they propose, who should be punished and what to do next. Let’s get down to work. We’ll start our discussion with a comprehensive plan for implementing the concept of national migration policy, as I’ve announced before. I’ll give the floor to Director of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) Konstantin Romodanovsky.
Konstantin Romodanovsky: Good afternoon. The draft plan for implementing the first stage of the migration concept until 2015 was elaborated in accordance with the April 27 Security Council resolution. We have coordinated it with 15 federal executive bodies. We have involved experts in this work, primarily the members of the working group on developing our socio-economic strategy until 2020, and representatives of the Public Chamber. We have subjected this document to broad discussion by publishing all versions of it on the FMS site.
Also we discussed the most resonant themes. We conducted a poll on toughening responsibility for violations of migration laws. According to media reports that were later confirmed by the state-run polling agency VTsIOM, three quarters of respondents support these measures.
Before discussing the main provisions of the draft plan, I’d like to briefly describe the current migration situation in Russia. It has remained nearly the same since April. According to GISMU (the State Migration Register), there are more than 10 million foreigners in Russia today – 42% of them have arrived for reasons other than work – to undergo medical treatment, study or visit relatives and friends; 17% are legal guest workers and 21% have exceeded their stay. We believe they are working illegally.
Two years ago, on July 1, 2010, we simultaneously introduced preferences for highly-skilled specialists and an institute of job licenses. Since then the number of legal guest workers has more than doubled, as you can see on the chart. The number of qualified and highly-skilled labour workers is at almost 33,000. In the last six months, foreigners received more than 100,000 part-time residence permits, 60,000 permanent residence permits and 45,500 were granted citizenship. Over the same period, more than 300,000 foreigners were held liable. GISMU helps us implement a norm according to which foreigners who commit administrative offenses are not allowed to enter Russia. As of July 1 of this year, more than 37,500 foreigners were denied entrance in the preceding six months.
Now let’s get straight to the plan. It consists of three sections: the legal foundation of the concept; institutional, information, analytical and academic support; and international cooperation. The first section provides for the development of nine draft laws and three government resolutions, which are designed primarily to toughen responsibility for violations of migration laws. The draft laws were prepared and submitted to the government on July 30. They include amendments to the Criminal Code to enhance responsibility for organising illegal migration. We believe that such violation should be qualified as an offense of medium gravity and, if it was committed by a group of people by previous concert, as a serious crime.
We’ll also prepare a series of amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences. If a foreigner repeatedly violates the rules of entry and stay and works illegally, he or she will be subjected to administrative expulsion. These amendments will also toughen liability of employers for violating the established order of employing guest workers. In 2013 the legal amendments will be aimed at updating the procedures for the exit, stay and residence in Russia of special categories of foreigners whom we want to attract – investors, entrepreneurs, students, teachers and scientists.
We are also planning to upgrade the laws on part-time and permanent residence, and establish a legal foundation for introducing a federal register of the population. This will help us make more effective decisions on domestic migration.
In 2014 we are going to adjust legislation for better regulation of labour migration, notably, procedures for determining the need for guest workers and for inviting them, for the drafting of labour migration programmes, including organised labour recruitment, and for the issue of licenses.
The biggest amendments will be introduced to the Federal Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens. Other drafts of the plan concern the main areas and concepts of domestic migration and facilitate voluntary migration of students and scientists to Russia and the implementation of our humanitarian commitments on displaced persons (I’m referring to the Law on Refugees).
In addition, some amendments will introduce mandatory exams for individual categories of guest workers on the Russian language, Russian history and the foundations of its legislation. Delegated legislation will be drafted in three months after the adoption of federal laws.
The second section deals with the drafting of two practical plans on upgrading educational migration and enhancing the investment appeal of the Far East and the Baikal area. The same section provides for the creation of proposals on improving the mechanism of employment of Russian citizens in other places in order to provide investment projects with the required personnel and to provide foreign citizens and members of their families with social, medical and educational services depending on their legal status.
The third section concerns international cooperation. It provides for work on signing international agreements, first and foremost, for those giving individual preferences for skilled employees and their family members. These agreements are designed to bring such specialists to work in Russia on a long-term basis.
Next, agreements with CIS countries for the organised import of foreign workers. We are working in this area and conducting talks with our Tajik, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Armenian and Moldovan partners. We will continue to work on signing readmission agreements. We are in a dialogue on readmission with 49 countries; international readmission agreements have been signed with 37 of them. Readmission processes are on in full.
In closing, I would like to say that the draft plan includes all the main areas involved in the first phase of the concept. Completion reports will be submitted to the government in the form of annual reports on the migration situation. The Federal Migration Service and related agencies will be responsible for putting them together. Since migration is a fairly sensitive topic, I propose having the Open Government carry out public analysis of the most socially important initiatives that will be advanced in accordance with the plan. I also propose discussing progress in the work performed under the plan during meetings of the government’s Commission on Migration Policy, which could also oversee such progress. Please support the draft plan and proposals for future organisation of the work. Thank you.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Romodanovsky. Please take a seat. If anyone has any questions for you, you will answer them from your seat.
Colleagues, do you have any comments or questions for Mr Romodanovsky regarding the migration policy’s concept and plan? No questions? Let’s then support them, including the latest ideas outlined by the head of the Federal Migration Service with regard to holding regular discussions of migration issues within the Open Government or any other venues, because this is truly a major concern for our people.
Let’s move on to other items on the agenda. Next comes the federal targeted programme Fire Safety in Russia to 2017. Mr Puchkov, please go ahead.
Vladimir Puchkov (Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief): Mr Medvedev and colleagues, I am here to present a draft concept of the federal targeted programme Fire Safety in Russia to 2017. This year completes the implementation of the federal targeted programme Fire Safety in Russia to 2012 with the funding of 195.9 billion roubles provided from the federal budget, budgets of federal constituent entities and organisations. The implementation of mandated programmes and activities helped achieve positive dynamics in firefighting (the main performance indicators are shown on Slide 3). The number of fires in the country fell by 16.8%, or 7,000 fires annually. The death toll from fires decreased by 25% to 11,300 people. Of course, this is still a serious loss of life, though we annually save 1,100 lives from fire. The number of people injured in fires fell by 6.3%.
The damage from fires has been halved over the course of the period covered by the programme. In addition, the number of urban and rural areas that do not provide requisite levels of fire safety or fire units’ response time has been reduced from 36% to 15%, or more than halved (statutory standards for fire units’ response time are 10 minutes in urban areas and up to 20 minutes in rural areas). Other measures have been taken as part of the programme as well.
However, despite this positive trend, fire risks and the number of people injured in fires are still high. People and facilities are not completely protected from fires. Primarily, this applies to the towns, villages and facilities located in remote rural, hard-to-reach and forested areas. In order to further improve the fire situation in Russia, the Emergencies Ministry in conjunction with federal agencies and in pursuance of the executive order by the Russian government has developed a draft federal targeted programme Fire Safety in Russia to 2017. Slide 4 shows the main goals of the new programme that include drastic improvement of the protection of the people, towns, villages and economic facilities against fires.
Major goals of the draft concept (Slide 5) include developing the latest firefighting equipment and gear for firefighters and rescue workers, introducing innovative technologies and new technical equipment in the area of fire safety in towns and villages and at economic facilities, increasing the level of protection of forests, improving fire hazard awareness, and solving other problems.
The programme focuses on building the infrastructure for volunteer fire departments to protect remote and hard-to-access rural areas and economic facilities, building multi-functional fire stations and fire testing laboratories to protect critically important economic facilities in the first place, introducing new effective techniques for fire prevention and suppression, including with the use of robots, heavy-duty aircraft, combined use of forces and equipment, developing telecommunications systems, monitoring and early warning systems and other tasks.
The programme will be implemented during five years and funded from different sources. The total amount of funding under this concept amounts to 204 billion roubles. Among other sources, funds will come from the federal, regional and corporate budgets (Slide 13). The Emergencies Ministry will act as the government customer and coordinator of the programme. The Ministry of Education, Federal Agency for Forestry (Roslezkhoz), Federal Service for Supervision of Transport (Rostransnadzor), Federal Service for Supervision of Environment, Technology and Nuclear Management (Rostekhnadzor) and the Rosatom corporation will participate in the programme. The implementation of the programme is expected to achieve the following key indicators by 2017 as compared with the baseline 2011: the number of fires will be reduced to 153,000 (in fact, we are planning to head off one in ten fires); reduce the number of casualties to 8,700 (a decrease of 27%, which means 2,600 saved human lives), reduce the number of people injured in fires, and reduce economic losses from fires.
Calculations show that prevented damage will amount to 372 billion roubles (this is just the direct damage). The general economic effect of the programme, taking into account the cost of its implementation, stands at 168 billion roubles. The draft concept has been agreed with the relevant federal executive authorities. In general, the implementation of the federal targeted programme Fire Safety to 2017 will reduce socio-economic damage caused by fires and facilitate fast economic growth and stable improvement of the Russian people’s welfare, and preserve their life and health. Please support the concept of the programme.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Puchkov. Please take a seat. Colleagues, what do you think about the federal targeted fire safety programme in Russia to 2017? Do you have any questions or comments for the speaker? Yes, please.
Sergei Donskoi (Minister of Natural Resources and Environment): Mr Prime Minister, since the issues covered by this federal programme include wildfires as well, we propose including the Ministry of Natural Resources in this federal programme, because Rosleskhoz has already been included, and this area is also part of our responsibility. Therefore, please include the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Dmitry Medvedev: I believe there may be no objections to this request. Of course, we will include it.
Vladimir Puchkov: The document will be executed in accordance with the established procedure by the government. Thank you.
Dmitry Medvedev: All right. Let’s then adopt this decision, support the programme and move on.