15 december 2009

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov

At the meeting, Mr Putin and Mr Mironov have discussed the Federation Council and government’s joint work on the issues of teachers’ and retired servicemen’s incomes and tax administration.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Mironov, the year is coming to a close. How would you describe the cooperation between the government and the Upper Chamber?

Sergei Mironov: It was not an easy year, of course; there was a financial crisis as well as many other tragic events. In general, the working relationship between the Federation Council and the government should be characterised positively in that it was constructive.

First of all, through the Internet we are able to be constantly working with both individual ministries and the central office of the government to prepare various legislative initiatives for our chamber.

Incidentally, Mr Putin, I really did come here to talk about the working relationship between the Federation Council and the government. But, if you'll allow me, I would like to make one request as chairman of the A Just Russia party. The issue is that the A Just Russia faction has prepared a package of legislative initiatives. I would like to ask you to meet with the leader of the faction, Nikolai Levichev, in the near future, so he can discuss the A Just Russia legislative initiatives with you personally.

And now I'll get back to the subject of the Federation Council's work. Your authorised representative Andrei Yatskin is working very hard to help us fine-tune our working relationship, and we are not sitting around doing nothing.

Accordingly, I would like to report that an amendment to the regulations will be made at tomorrow's session of the Federation Council. We are creating a permanent body within the Federation Council called the presidium of the chamber council. This body will work over the Internet on many different issues with various ministries to prepare legislation.

At present, the chamber council meets before every Federation Council session, which usually means one to three times a month. The presidium of the chamber council will meet constantly.

I would also like to take this opportunity to report on some initiatives from our chamber, including legislative initiatives. This will sometimes concern organisational issues.

And it is precisely in regard to these organisational issues that I would like to say the following. I am getting a lot of mail from across the country. 2010 is the Year of the Teacher, and, of course, the government is already planning a whole series of measures and initiatives. I would like to make sure that we don't forget people like preschool teachers, cadet academy instructors and teachers at art schools. Because it is precisely today's art students who will one day be the pride of our country - some in painting, some in music.

This category of teachers, who are involved in upbringing and education, is sometimes undeservedly forgotten. I ask that we pay attention to this.

And, Mr Putin, one more subject that concerns local government: we must strengthening the capabilities of local governments. There are specific proposals that our chamber is preparing.

First of all, there is Article 50 of Federal Law No. 131, which includes an exhaustive list of municipal property that municipal governments can use to do their jobs. There is also a ruling by the Constitutional Court dating back to November 2006 that states that the approved list is not necessarily exhaustive and that additions are possible. And it is precisely here that we got to thinking that we need to work on expanding this list in order for the municipalities to be actually able to perform their duties. We are expanding their powers, but not providing them with appropriate material resources.

Tax administration, for example, is the same sort of issue. You know that the land tax collected by the tax services goes in full to the municipalities, which therefore have a greater interest in collecting these taxes than anybody else. And so maybe we should think about letting them, specifically the municipal governments, collect this land tax.

Expanding the tax base for local government is another, related issue. There are some very interesting ideas that our chamber supports being discussed. For example, we collect income taxes. The taxes are collected from actual people, naturally, by tax services but they are collected according to place of employment. Collecting them in another place is impossible. And so we propose continuing to collect taxes according to place of employment, but transfer them to place of residence. After all, if a citizen lives in a municipality, then he has an interest in having good roads, infrastructure and transport. This kind of proposal is on the table.

Maybe this next issue going too far, but I cannot fail to mention it. Mr Putin, tomorrow the State Duma will consider the long-awaited law on trade, as it is called in the common parlance, which is on its second reading. I would like to state our chamber's position - we support your position and today we support the position of the State Duma leadership in the person of State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov. Therefore, we will still have to bring our house in order, and it seems to me that it is not necessary to compromise on the requirements you insisted on that no more than 25% of companies in a region be part of a chain or controlled by some holding company. I would simply like to take this opportunity to say that the position of the Federation Council is precisely in support of your decision and the decision of the State Duma leadership.

Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you very much. To use boring, official language, it is reasonable to suppose that the law will be passed in such a form.