There won’t be any relaxation in the requirements to fulfill the national projects. Target indexes should be reached to their full extent at every point. This is what Vladimir Putin stated today when he summed up the results of the first year of the implementation of the national development goals. Industrial exports are $8 billion less than planned. The mortality rate is going down slower than announced. Only a quarter of the funds allocated to the digital economy have been spent. Some officials aren’t used to working at such pace, the President pointed out.
What should we do to catch up for the lost time? Alexander Khristenko is reporting.
THE ENVIRONMENT, DEMOGRAPHICS, NATIONAL PROJECTS
Before the meeting in the Kremlin, governors were speaking on the phone. Ministers and other high-ranking officials happily shared the national projects’ outcomes with the media. The outcomes looked positive. They won’t reconsider reducing the national projects’ target indexes.
Vladimir Putin: “We shouldn’t lower the bar for the goals that we’ve set for ourselves. Once you make the first step it will all go down. I don’t think it’s reasonable to revise the national development goals. Any attempts to adjust the indexes so that we can continue working the way we often have are unnecessary, harmful, and ending”.
Reporting to the president proved to be much more difficult, for example, in such areas as the environment.
Vladimir Putin: What is the practical result? Did the discharges decrease or not?
– Of course, they did, sir.
– You should have said this, it’s the most important.
– We had to prepare a brief summary, not a detailed report.
– Mr. Gordeev, I’ve known you for a long time, you’re an experienced man. A brief summary should either start with the answers to the key questions or start with them. What is the practical result of all our red tape and correct decisions in the bureaucratic sphere? People aren’t interested in this. People don’t care what laws and regulations we adopted, what organizations we created again. Don’t you see? It’s the results that are important! Can they breathe well in this city? Or they still need to have the windows closed and wear a gas-mask.
It turns out that many Russians don’t even know of either the prospective or completed works within the national projects. And this is also a big oversight that needs to be eliminated.
Vladimir Putin: “The most important key result that we are to achieve is the actual changes for the better in the lives of people, the changes that our citizens will feel. I’m not sure that the majority of the people can feel this. It’s confirmed by public opinion polls made by, in particular, the structures that we can’t mistrust the Federal Protective Service being one of them. This September, 30.6% of respondents didn’t know anything about the implementation of the national projects. It’s unthinkable”.
In some spheres, they have definitely felt changes. In two years, they created almost 54,000 openings in daycare facilities. Over 2,000 schools were equipped with hi-tech machines this year. Almost 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) of federal and local roads were renovated. Putin points out that the national projects results should be felt not just in metropolises but throughout the country, in small towns and rural areas. He brought up the example of the cultural sphere.
Vladimir Putin: “People who live in this area shouldn’t feel like strangers at this feast of life. We now have both more theaters than in Soviet times in the capital cities and many more institutions of higher education than in Soviet times. All of this is booming in an absolutely disproportional manner and doesn’t correspond to the interests of territorial development of the country as a whole. We no longer have Gosplan (State Planning Committee). Mr. Belousov, let’s not create another Gosplan. We won’t do that”.
Nonetheless, we need some kind of planning. Until recently, construction companies threatened that the ban on shared-equity construction might decrease the rates of new housing commissions. But it didn’t happen. They only increased. For people to have an opportunity to buy an apartment, particularly by using loans, mortgage interest rates should be decreased.
Vladimir Putin: “It’s very important to proceed with the work to decrease mortgage interest rates. I think it’s a very good marker that, by the end of this year, it has decreased to an average level of 9%. I would like the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Russia, the specialized agencies to monitor this situation in a most attentive manner”.
Alexey Kudrin, who has always loved to put money aside for the country, this time, criticized the government on behalf of the Auditing Chamber for spending too little on the national projects. On the other hand, he didn’t mention the reverse side of spending: it can give momentum to inflation.
Alexey Kudrin: “By now, it’s become clear that implementation of the national projects won’t bring us to the achievement of the national goals”.
Vladimir Putin: “I know your position. You believe that we should loosen our credit and monetary policy a little bit. You think it can be done. We can change the borderline when we determine the amount of money received as the oil and gas income that can be allocated to the real economy. This is what’s right. But you have some gnoseological differences with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy, and, I think, with the Central Bank as well. That is why you just need to think this over very attentively, without inflicting any harm upon the macroeconomic indexes, and, if all of us come up with well-grounded solutions, we ll be able to take some steps. But for the national projects, we wouldn’t have the level we have now. Here’s the thing. We just wouldn’t be able to achieve it. Because it was the national projects that enabled us to allocate additional resources to this area. Let’s take a key index, such as the growth of life expectancy. This fact was established not by us but, for one, by the World Health Organization”.
The nationwide health assessment program is one thing that has affected this situation. And employers must provide employees with a day off for a check-up and pay for it as for a workday. The health assessment program now includes an oncological screening.
Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister: “In 2020, we’re aiming to provide a full cycle of medical assistance for patients who have gone through a heart attack or a stroke, or heart and blood-vessels surgery, which is the main mortality factor in Russia. Such patients will be provided with the corresponding drugs for free at the out-patient stage of their treatment. Virtually any Over 10 billion ($160 million) has been allocated from the federal budget for this purpose, plus the regional funds”.
The results of work in every direction depend directly on the joint efforts by the center and the regions.
The President has emphasized many times that each governor must delve into the work to implement the national projects, while federal ministers must not delegate everything to the regions and just demand to submit the documents on the results. Governors often encounter the delays in the transfer of money for the projects. Putin knows about this issue.
Vladimir Putin: “This is necessary to adjust the financial mechanism of the national projects. I know that, at the end of the year— there’s nothing new about this— at the end of the year, the flywheel starts spinning. We need the whole system to work rhythmically throughout the year. It's necessary to adjust this mechanism, to propose convenient solutions for the administrants, so that they can work rhythmically and seamlessly according to the schedule.”
Once again, the president reminded the attendees that national projects are not a goal in itself: the people should feel that these investments change their lives for the better.
Vladimir Putin: “It is high time to deal with the trash disposal, so that people stop just seeing the utility bill rise by many times or by this or by so many percents but for them to see that their staircases are have become cleaner and so on. We need practical results from this work. Otherwise, everything we do means nothing”.
Science and education, healthcare and demographics, roads and urban environments— there are over ten national projects that are being funded with the allocation of an enormous sum: virtually any 7 trillion ($110 billion). The President is confident that they will be able to spend this money with an outcome that will be much better than before.
Vladimir Putin: “National projects are a unique instrument, as you and I know perfectly well. Nothing of such scale and scope has even happened before in our country. Nothing of this sort has been ever used. The mere fact of the launch of such projects shows that the country’s opportunities have substantially improved, that we need to tackle the challenges of an essentially new level. We need to and, most importantly, we can. We are capable of dealing with challenges of this scale.”
This year, a lot of time has been spent for planning and designing. Next year, the implementation of the national project should gain full momentum.
Alexander Khristenko, Rinat Gareev, Dmitry Khrustalev, Vesti.