Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a conference on economic issues
21 january 2009
As we have agreed, we will continue discussing the situation in different industries to keep abreast of it, to understand what is happening in reality, to assess the effectiveness of the Government's measures, and to react accordingly to what is going on.
Today, we are going to discuss housing construction. I would like to remind you that the priority national project Accessible and Affordable Housing was designed to substantially improve the living standards, upgrade the construction industry, as well as housing and utilities services, and modernise the look of Russian cities and villages.
These plans and tasks remain unchanged. The situation in the world economy and finances is not developing well, and this is affecting Russia. However, citizens should have an opportunity to resolve their housing problems, and have the right to rely on the Government's support regardless of what is happening.
In addition, fast commissioning of housing will make it possible to secure contracts for many related industries, and, hence, to retain hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In the building industry, the common logic of anti-crisis measures is to support the demand for housing and prevent the curtailment of construction projects. The majority of the adopted measures are oriented to directly help citizens and sustain the demand.
I'd like to remind you of some of the measures that have already been coordinated and adopted. The charter capital of the Russian mortgage agency (AIZhK) was increased by 60 billion roubles, which has allowed the banks to continue implementing mortgage programmes. Needless to say, these measures are not on the same scale as they might have been a year and a half or two years ago, but they are still effective.
The borrowers that have become temporarily unable to pay mortgage interest rates due to the loss of a job or cuts in incomes will be offered special refinancing programmes, and a chance to pay in installments. The federal mortgage agency will also provide funds for this purpose.
An additional 83 billion roubles have been allocated for the purchase of 40,000 standard flats. They will be used to resolve the housing problems of army servicemen, as well as citizens living in dilapidated buildings. We will purchase the housing at its real price. In this context, I'd like to express some concern over the implementation of this programme. The billions earmarked for it have not been fully spent yet, and housing has not been purchased on the required scale, but let's talk about this separately.
Starting this year, the tax break for citizens that are purchasing or building housing has been doubled to reach two million roubles. In other words, they will be able to save on the income tax up to 260,000 roubles, compared with 130,000 roubles, as was the case in the past. This norm will be retroactive and will apply to the families that bought housing last year.
It has also become possible to use maternity capital for mortgage payments after the birth of the second child. We remember lengthy debates on whether this money will be paid to citizens at all. This year, people should start receiving this money, and not waiting until a child is three years old, but from the birth of the second child.
Despite or rather because of the negative trends in the world economy, and the falling scale of production in some industries, we should also expect price cuts. This applies to the housing sector.
In this context, this period may be the best time for those who would like to improve their housing conditions, but only if we make the decisions that would really reduce prices. Instead of talking about this, we should develop the rules and conditions for the construction market to ensure that building companies do not to sustain losses. But at the same time, they will work proceeding from today's realities, which means that citizens will receive additional opportunities.
In tentative estimate, more than 61 million square metres of housing were commissioned last year, which is on the level of 2007. Our task is to maintain the same level this year.
Today we are going to discuss additional measures to support the construction sector.
Let's get down to work, please.