Dmitry Medvedev attends a State Council meeting on increasing the investment appeal of Russia’s regions

Dmitry Medvedev’s speech at a State Council meeting:

 First, I’d like to say a few words on a different subject. Since we are having a broad discussion I cannot but respond to the remark of Mr Zyuganov (Gennady Zyuganov) on the regulation of prices on energy supplies in the context of capital drain and the like. If we impose tough price regulations like some countries do, all capital will gravitate towards offshore zones. We know this because we have been through this. This is not the economic model we should be striving for.

Now I’d like to say a few words about ineffective universities in light of what was said by Mr Zyuganov and Mr Vasilyev (Vladimir Vasilyev, Head of the United Russia Parliamentary Party in the State Duma). Nobody has looked at these lists as a guide for shutting down these universities once and for all. This is absolutely wrong. There are no plans to eliminate these pedagogical universities. We want them to become strong. We understand that pedagogical education is in crisis when 90% of graduates of teacher-training universities, especially average and below-average ones, take completely different jobs upon graduation and never step foot in schools. This is why it is important to make teacher-training universities stronger. Importantly, not a single student should be affected by any changes. The conditions of studying in a particular university should remain the same as they were when these students matriculated. The Government will be adamant on this point.

Now I will comment on what was said here. Mr Putin has already commented on many things and the Minister of Finance has also taken the floor. Yet, I believe the governors have grounds to request a more accurate account of expenses related to the creation of infrastructure during the distribution of subsidies to support the balance. It is necessary to develop this idea as well as the proposal of the Minister of Finance to consider GRP growth as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) while assessing the performance of regional governors. I think this is absolutely correct.

The Investment Agency has been mentioned more than once here. I’d just like to add that we don’t need more governing bodies. We can only consider establishing development institutions, but before we do that we should assess the effectiveness of the development institutions that are already functioning.

One more issue was mentioned here and I’d like to comment on it. It is about the competition among jurisdictions in the Russian Federation. I think this is a debatable issue. We should not forget that we are a single state after all. How to attract investment? Should you have more liberal laws or should you have courts that would rule differently than those of your neighbour? I think this is a slippery slope, and we shouldn’t venture down it for the time being. We have barely put our state together (sparing no efforts to this end in the late 1990s - early 2000s). That said, we should of course improve our judiciary.

And, finally, the last point I want to make. It is also outside our current agenda, but this is a very important issue. Mr Putin spoke about it in reply to a question about children without parental care. I’ve also spoken on this issue. Of course, I consider it our common task and I was glad to hear that the leaders of all parliamentary parties perceive it as our common problem that we must tackle.

I don’t think this issue is limited to additional funding (I’ve already issued an instruction to this effect), or the programme for children’s adaptation and support of orphanages. We must also examine the legal and other aspects of the adoption procedures that are far from ideal in this country, and encourage people to adopt children not only with trivial material incentives because we know what kinds of distortions they may lead to. We must look at all these issues and simply draft a separate programme to upgrade children’s boarding schools and homes in all regions of Russia. I’d like to thank not only United Russia but also other parties for having virtually an identical view on this problem. Thank you.

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