President Vladimir Putin meets with Government members
27 december 2012
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, we have a good tradition of meeting in an expanded format on New Year’s Eve, discuss our achievements and outline plans for the near and medium-term future. In the beginning, I would like to say that the first stage of the effort to build such a complex system as our Government has been successfully completed. We have created an effective, businesslike and highly professional team. First and foremost, credit for this accomplishment goes to the Prime Minister. However I also hope that now, fully cognizant of the fact that the initial phase of this work is over, all Government members will make full use of their capabilities (intellectual, organisational, and administrative), and proceed without delay to work on the tasks that we are faced with and the plans that we have formulated together.
I would like to reiterate what I have already said many times in public. First, people didn’t vote for a particular presidential candidate, but for the programme that all of us – at least a significant number of the colleagues present here – put together. Of course, we need to focus on working together in order to deliver on our election promises. The Government cannot disassociate itself from the promises that it gave to the country. That does not mean, however, that the Government cannot come up with new ideas about the development of a particular sphere in the course of its work. Under the Constitution, the Government is the supreme executive authority with all the ensuing consequences. However, we should not substitute new tasks and goals for what we promised during elections. This is a matter of principle, because after a while we will have to report to the people for what we have accomplished or failed to accomplish and why.
In this regard, I want to draw your attention to the fact that the most important task is to improve the quality of our work in all areas, including our medium-term goals, tools to achieve these goals, and the quality of our work with people and the public at large. I believe that the Government is on the right track, because it has created a very good environment and additional ways to communicate with society, civic organisations, and professional associations. The Open Government was created, among other things. This openness should characterise all our actions and all our work.
This applies to socially important, high-profile areas of focus and our current work as well. Coordination between ministries and departments, the Government and the Federal Assembly, both houses of the Federal Assembly, the State Duma and the Federation Council, and, of course, between the Government and the Presidential Administration are all critical for our success. We have established a very effective system of interaction between the Administration and the Government over the past four years, and I hope that this tradition will continue into the near future, I mean the entire period of our term stipulated by the Constitution.
I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year. I want to thank you for your cooperation over the past few months and I also want to express the hope that we will keep working with the same spirit and the same professional approach (the process is important, but the result is even more important), to achieve our goals effectively for the benefit of our country and our people. Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Putin. Mr Putin, colleagues, I would like to expand on what the President has just said. Indeed, the outgoing year was not easy, because we were forming the Government in 2012, and I’m here to tell you that we have effectively formed the Government in a short amount of time. The Government is working properly, and Mr Putin as President has played a very important role in this, because a lot in our country depends on the stance and the support of the President, including the coordinated work of the supreme executive authority.
Mr Putin has just mentioned our goals. These goals are very ambitious. These are perhaps the most ambitious goals formulated by the President, the Federal Assembly, and the Government over the past 12 years. Why is this so? Because it’s time to address these issues. Of course, I am absolutely sure that we must contribute to resolving the issues outlined in presidential orders, government programmes, and numerous other decisions that we have taken in recent years. There’s no place for doubt: we are all moving in the same direction.
The year 2012 was also difficult in financial and economic terms. Unfortunately, the global recession is still here, with many countries still plagued by it. The crisis has left its mark on the work of our Government as well. We had to draft a fairly tight budget. I believe that the introduction of a budget rule... Although it was a challenge, we have overcome it successfully. Our current goal is to carry out all our decisions: we need to carry out our investment and social development plans, and make good on the promises that we made in the course of the election campaign and in all other policy documents.
I would like to thank Mr Putin for his support of the work in the new format, the work with civil society and experts, including the Open Government. Indeed, our people should understand what the Government is doing. People change, and they are no longer content with hearing about us in the news. They want to understand in detail what decisions are adopted by the executive branch, and they will judge these decisions by our actions.
On behalf of the Government, I would like to wish a Happy New Year to Mr Putin. I wish all of us and our loved ones every success in the New Year. We will continue to work together. Thank you. We would like to invite Mr Putin...
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Mr Medvedev just mentioned the budget rule. I must say that it is a professional and courageous decision by the Government. The most important thing now is to see it to completion. Of course, this will require us to impose certain budget constraints in a number of industries, but you and I have discussed many times the need to streamline our performance in various areas of our activities. There are resources and room for streamlining in virtually every industry. What we need to do is work hard to make it happen. I am convinced that you are on the right track in this sense. This is my first point.
Secondly, so that no one has any misconception with regard to what I said recently in the State of the Nation Address about the Reserve Fund, namely, that we can start using these funds earlier and take 100 billion roubles out of it for infrastructure projects. It's not a whim or a violation of the budget rule: we have the preliminary agreement of the Finance Minister. These are concerted actions, and we will do so only after we have done several formalities. The total amount of accumulated reserves stands at over 9% of GDP as of the end of 2012. That’s not a lot of money for the large-scale infrastructure projects that we have in mind. We need to do certain things of an administrative nature, but we can already begin doing this work while keeping in place all the variables that have been agreed upon by various departments and approved by the Prime Minister. Most importantly, we should stick to these agreements and make sure that industry leaders do not overrun the fundamental decisions that have been taken. I hope that the Prime Minister will not allow this to happen. Happy New Year!