13 may 2013

Meeting with deputy prime ministers

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Let me make a few introductory remarks concerning our meeting on maternity and childhood support. One of the subjects we will be discussing is how insurance contributions are paid and how the qualifying period is calculated for women with children. This is always important for someone bringing up a child or several children. Ms Golodets, we have been drafting a number of proposals. What stage are they at now? Please give us the lowdown.

Olga Golodets: Mr Medvedev, we drew up these proposals as per your instructions. They have been incorporated into a draft federal law which has been submitted to the Government by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

What new aspects does the draft law propose? Today a woman has the right to a three-year insurance period. This means that every woman can look after only two children and this falls short of our demographic plans. The proposals we have submitted extend this term to four and a half years. I think this is a totally justified measure.

Dmitry Medvedev: What is this term all about? Please explain it so that we could understand.

Olga Golodets: It’s the term during which a woman can look after her child until one and a half years of age. Today, if a woman has three children (and this, luckily, is not such a rare thing nowadays: a third child was born to 11% of families last year), people are finding this a problem.

Dmitry Medvedev: It is the term, during which insurance contributions are paid on behalf of the woman, and it is subject to pension insurance, right?

Olga Golodets: Yes.

Dmitry Medvedev: So this is 1.5 years, plus 1.5 years, plus 1.5 years. It’s a good scheme. I hope it will encourage women to have a second and even a third child.

Another document that is very important and concerns a great number of people is that which deals with utility rates, water supply rates and water disposal rates. I have signed a resolution on government regulation of water supply and discharge rates. This regulation covers the rate setting and adjustment.

Mr Kozak, please say a few words.

Dmitry Kozak: Mr Medvedev, this is one of the key documents concerning the housing and utility reform plans of the Government. The document outlines the rules for long-term utility rate setting, the requirements for investors and the requirements for the quality of services. It will substantially restrain groundless increases in utility rates (as it contains regulations for the rate setting bodies in the regions) and sets the payback period for invested funds to at least 20 years, which is reasonable. This document has been discussed by the business community, which should ensure that we can predict the actions of the utility rate setting authorities and the actions of the Government with regard to investors, as well as attract extra private investment to the sector. This document marks the end of our work on utility rate regulation.

Last year we adopted basic pricing rules for electricity and heat, and today for water supply in connection with the laws, recently passed at the Government’s proposal, to amend concession agreements, which establish clear-cut relations between the state (mostly between municipalities) and investors. We hope that starting next year the process of involving private investment in the housing and utilities sector will become more active. This will help people obtain access to more high quality and affordable services.

Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s see how this document will work. It is important, but any document has certain nuances that become clear only during its implementation. If you think something has to be adjusted, please report to me and we’ll take the appropriate decisions. But we’ll carry it out.

As for prices, I’ve signed another document – on conducting a public technological audit of major investment projects involving public investment. There are always many questions on this issue and a great deal of interest. In 2013 we should determine how to perform similar procedures for investment projects with indirect public participation. In any case this is making major investment projects more transparent. I hope this document will be effective.

To conclude the public part of this conversation, I’d like to recall that in April – I think in the beginning of April – I held a meeting on different types of alternative fuels in this country, including gas. I’m referring to natural gas, which can be used in cars as motor fuel. A relevant document has been prepared and I have just singed a Government instruction to this effect.

Mr Dvorkovich, (addressing Arkady Dvorkovich) you can say a few words on this issue.

Arkady Dvorkovich: The proposal that has been signed sets serious goals of transitioning public transport and road and utility services to run on natural gas. We are referring to three types of fuel: liquefied hydrocarbon gas, condensed gas and liquefied natural gas. In major cities, no less than 50% of transport should be switched to gas. In this context we’ll draft and adopt this year relevant adjustments to the legislation and regulatory acts of the Government and corresponding departments. In addition, the production companies, including Gazprom, are ready to fund the formation of the necessary infrastructure in cities, which will prompt private and commercial vehicles to switch to gas.  Currently the share of vehicles running on gas is low in this country compared to others, although we are rich in natural gas and it’s clear why we have set ourselves this task. Domestic demand for gas can only increase.

We have allocated funds in our budget to subsidise switching public transport to gas, and we are planning to speed up this process.

We’ll pay special attention to security issues and draft technical regulations as soon as possible. In general, we believe that we’ll be able to reach our goals in cooperation with the regions and companies concerned.

Dmitry Medvedev: This is still a large project. Apart from the issues you mentioned, we should think about supporting car producers and energy companies. I’m referring to the item that is mentioned in the Government’s resolution – it is necessary to draft proposals (both for the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Trade and Industry) on reducing or even cancelling customs duties on the components necessary for the production of cars that run on natural gas.

Arkady Dvorkovich: And that are not produced in this country.

Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, that are not produced in this country. This should also apply to equipment and mechanisms that are used for this fuel, because this is a technologically important project.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Will do.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay, agreed. Please draft your proposals.