2 april 2009

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the leaders of parliamentary parties and groups, and public and political organisations

Vladimir Putin

Meeting with the leadership of parliamentary parties and groups, and public and political organisations

"Next week I am to present the anti-crisis plan and to speak in part about the 2009 budget estimates at the State Duma. Therefore I’d like to consult you, to hear you proposals and opinions concerning the programme that the Government has developed and submitted."

Vladimir Putin's introductory remarks:

Good afternoon, colleagues!

The recent weeks have seen an active discussion of the Government anti-crisis plan, with the participation of political parties, unions and business associations-virtually the entire range of public organisations. The very fact of that the plan has sparked active debates has been very useful.

Our meeting today is important also because, as you know, next week I am to present the anti-crisis plan and to speak in part about the 2009 budget estimates at the State Duma. Therefore I'd like to consult you, to hear you proposals and opinions concerning the programme that the Government has developed and submitted. The mass media have also played an important role. I want to thank them for their detailed and involved scrutiny of this plan. I'd like to emphasise once again that I find this discussion very useful.

Let me note at the very start: I have already told the leaders of parliamentary parties that any constructive, reasonable and feasible offers will be considered, irrespective of the fact who voiced them-it doesn't matter whether they come from the right-wing, left-wing or centrist political forces. What really matters is that they should be professional, well thought-out and viable.

Now I'd like us to consider the basic provisions of the anti-crisis plan, which, as I have already mentioned, is very closely linked with the 2009 budget. In fact, these are two sides to the same medal-one document cannot exist without the other. In the context of current developments, we cannot pretend that nothing is happening. It stands to reason that a specific situation in the world and Russian economies calls us to respond. This is by no means a reason to give up the strategic guidelines for the country's development laid out, as we all know, in the Programme for Russia's Development until 2020. On the contrary-and it has already been pointed out on several occasions-we have every reason to believe that this country will go through these hardships and come out stronger. One may wonder how. The answer is simple. To survive today and to have a chance to develop, an enterprise has to use state-of-the-art technologies, lower production costs and, all the more, nonmanufacturing costs. For example, it is important to focus on saving energy. We have to put special emphasis on that as it is one of the key aspects in present conditions. There are many other essential issues, and I hope that the crisis will push businesses to be more rational and efficient. For its part, the Government will encourage such efforts in every way.

Another integral part of this plan-and perhaps the crucial one-is support for the people, social security and fulfilment of our social commitments. Notably, our task is not just to provide support in the crisis-hit environment, to help people cope with all the ensuing difficulties - though that is also very important - but to be consistent in the development of human resources. That is why we have introduced virtually no cuts to our Priority National Programmes. That is why we are determined to continue investing money in the healthcare system, education, demographics and the pension system. In general, we are committed to improving the quality of life.
Naturally, this goes hand-in-hand with preserving and developing the technological and industrial potential. I would particularly like to stress the "developing" part of the equation. I am referring to innovation development and retooling, which in the end will enable our economy, its real sector, to recover and become stronger.

I am sure we will talk today in greater detail about what this thesis implies in the government anti-crisis programme. But you must have already read the programme and realised that when I speak about development and support for the innovation development of our economy, that rests on precise figures and the Government's clear-cut intentions. We have not cut a single high-technology programme, including federal targeted programmes. This applies to the energy industry, including nuclear power engineering, to ship-building, aircraft building and space programmes. As regards these items, all the federal allocations have been preserved as planned.

We are going to continue developing the structure, with ample funds earmarked for this. There is slightly less than had been planned for 2009, but more than in 2008. I think this is encouraging during the crisis.
Finally, and I have already mentioned this, I would very much like for our discussion to be to the point and constructive. This will enable us to find the most successful solutions that will help us to tackle the challenges facing us today, and to come out of this difficult situation stronger and more resourceful.

That is what I wanted to say at the beginning.


Vladimir Putin made the following remarks during the discussion:

I would like to point out two issues. The first is that there is a real need to consolidate society in the face of the challenges presented by the crisis. Whenever this country has been confronted with grave problems we succeeded in achieving consolidation. I would like to see the nation responding productively to what is happening and working out comprehensive measures to resolve the problems caused by the crisis.

The second issue is more specific and bears on all the economy, which also affects the social sphere. I mean the macroeconomic situation and the accessibility of loans. Inflation is still very high but the Government sees one of its priorities in sustaining the macroeconomic stability and sending the inflation rate down this year and in the subsequent years.
Judging from the current state of the economy, we can, to my mind, witness an inflation drop rather soon.

I proceed also from the grounds that comparing the present situation with the same period last year we see no rise in inflation despite the crisis. The Central Bank's latest figures testify to that.

I want to repeat that there is every hope to witness a drop in inflation in the near future and, as a result, a better access to credit resources.