19 january 2009

Vladimir Putin met with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov

The meeting discussed the proposed development of Moscow’s social sector, including support for disabled persons, the local economic situation and migration-policy issues.
Transcript of the initial meeting:

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, Mr Luzhkov. How did Moscow complete the 2008 period, and what are your plans for 2009?

YURY LUZHKOV: Mr Putin, we have successfully completed the 2008 period. The entire year was successful. We introduced many innovations in the social sector. We also did our best to successfully complete the Year of the Family.

We consider 2009 a year of equal opportunities when disabled persons will be supported. In effect, this initiative is linked with the city's purposeful work in many spheres. We must provide social security to the 1.2 million disabled persons accounting for over 10% of Moscow's population and create jobs for them.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: This matches average nationwide statistics. What practical measures do you implement with regard to disabled persons?

YURY LUZHKOV: Mr Putin, we adopt various decisions as regards transportation, the creation of about a million ramps enabling disabled persons to move freely along local streets, sidewalks and to enter or leave their apartment houses. Add to this special decisions at cultural agencies, in the social-security field and other facilities. We are also working hard to create the required job potential, including online jobs. Home-bound persons can accomplish a lot while working online.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you allocate budgetary funding for this purpose?

YURY LUZHKOV: Yes, we are setting aside tremendous resources, namely, 12 billion rubles ($363.6 million). We launched this programme already in 2007. Last year, we decided to implement what was probably the first national target programme for supporting disabled persons.

The local industry is in the black. Although we expected the gross regional product (GRP) and industrial output to grow by about 7%, we posted 4.5% growth. Nonetheless, we are in the black. We also eliminated a 100 billion ruble ($3 billion) budget deficit and chalked up a budget surplus. In effect, we are entering the 2009 period with a certain reserve.

However, we are expecting this year to be difficult. The industrial performance shows that local businesses have downsized production by almost 10%. We are also registering controllable wage arrears and established the Commission for Promptly Monitoring the Economic Situation, or a veritable anti-crisis commission, in early October. The commission examines specific measures to support strategic companies twice a week.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Who heads this commission?



YURY LUZHKOV: In addition to measures announced by you, our commission promptly perceived the need to support small and medium businesses and decided to minimise rent payments for all small and medium businesses, except casinos, to the greatest possible extent.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Lease contracts must be extended on time.

YURY LUZHKOV: I believe the concerned parties have reacted accordingly to the recently approved law. We have shown that, under the 108th law, any businessman who has rented a basement, who has renovated it, installed new floors, a power network and equipment there, must nonetheless bid for a new lease contract the very next year. I have told my Government colleagues about this; and they have heeded my calls. I told them that a creditworthy raider could confront such businessmen and rent their premises in exchange for higher lease payments.

Such situations are absolutely unacceptable. On the whole, the state has found a solution to these problems. In effect, lease contracts will be extended without any auctions and tenders involving lessees who can continue to work at such premises.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fair enough.

YURY LUZHKOV: This primarily concerns small and medium businesses because 2.5 million Muscovites now work for small businesses. This is over 50% if we count family businesses.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

YURY LUZHKOV: This is over 50%. Our small businesses account for 25% of Russia's small-business potential.

Mr Putin, I would like to mention one more issue. Addressing a meeting in Yaroslavl and the December 4 live question-and-answer session, you said migrant quotas would be reduced by 50% in order to provide jobs for redundant industrial workers and those leaving other sectors. We promptly decided to accomplish this objective. Unfortunately, current immigration legislation will not allow the state to do this.

See for yourself. We are discussing the required number of migrants who now account for 45% of municipal proceeds. I have just returned from a meeting of the City Police Department's Board. The police estimate that migrants commit 45% of local crimes. I am asking myself how many migrants do we need, and I want to suggest this philosophy to Muscovites and the Government. The number of migrants must match available vacancies.

And what do we see in real life?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: But territorial entities are supposed to request the required number of migrants.


VLADIMIR PUTIN: Please request as much as you need.

YURY LUZHKOV: We are reducing such quotas which are not needed by anyone. What do we see in real life?

When people arrive here from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and many other countries, including Ukraine, they receive immigration certificates from federal migration services. Such people become involved in municipal systems and do not care whether they are part of migrant quotas or not.

Last year, 500,000 people arrived in Moscow and received immigration certificates. However, only 147,000 of them got down to work. And where are the remaining 353,000? Some of them are employed in the private sector which must also stipulate migrant quotas. And the rest are moving from place to place.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see. Mr Luzhkov, please submit the relevant request to federal agencies in line with this circumstance and assessment. As you have said, Moscow now has enough foreign workers. Such workforce can be found on the market.

YURY LUZHKOV: Yes, of course. This is particularly true today. I agree, Mr Putin. But I am absolutely convinced that we need a new law in order to streamline this migration flow without amending our legislation as regards visa-free traffic because this is an issue of big-time politics and because we must be particularly careful in this field.

I think the state must tackle migrant-quota issues, while territorial entities would assume responsibility and organise such work.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let's discuss this in greater detail.


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