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Opening Address at the Session of the Council for the Implementation of Priority National Projects and Demographic Policy
October 5, 2006
The Kremlin, Moscow
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VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon dear colleagues!

During today’s session we are going to examine the agenda for 2007 and also talk about the implementation of national projects in a three-year and longer-term perspective.

In the first instance we will address the long-term tasks of demographic policy. These tasks are essentially new and require not only difficult calculations and forecasts but also systematic work by all levels of authority for a number of years to come. We must also think about and establish an essentially new way to stimulate the birth rate. We must provide women who give birth to more than one child with a so-called maternity capital. And if we now develop the financial, legal and methodological basis of this mechanism than, from the very beginning, we must make it as functional and as simple as possible. And, what is most important, we must make it clear to people. We also need to effectively implement other elements of demographic policy. First and foremost I am referring to strengthening families and the position of mothers within families. Then there are additional measures with regard to lowering the death rate. And certainly a number of these measures are related to preventing premature deaths in extreme situations and tragic accidents.

At our Council’s session today we must pay separate attention to the ‘Accessible Housing’ project. It is already clear today that its successful implementation is being hindered by layers of difficult and chronic problems, and each of these problems can constitute a separate subject of discussion. I am referring to administrative barriers, conditions that inhibit growth, and a monopolised housing market in certain regions as well as the insufficient development of the construction industry and other related industries.

At the same time we need to implement a number of instruments to ensure the real development of the mortgage market. And we need to do this along with increasing the quality of buildings and developing the transport and social infrastructure in new neighbourhoods.

Of course merely administrative measures are insufficient to resolve such a large number of varied problems. We must develop and supplement Russia’s financial legislation as well as use tax, financial and credit incentives. This is a whole lot of work. And here there are internal tasks that face the regions and municipalities. They need to make their legislation correspond with the new requirements of land, housing and town-planning legislation, substantially increase the number of plots of land sold by auctions for construction, and speed up the process of making plans for new housing settlements.

And where local authorities are working actively rather than sitting on the sidelines we are seeing good results. And I think we should also talk about this today.

I expect to discuss one more aspect of the housing project, namely achieving its target figures for the sixth and seventh years, the most important of which is increasing the amount of accessible housing.

Statistical data for eight months of 2006 shows that the amount of new housing increased by 20,8 million square metres. This is almost 11 percent higher than last year’s level. The amount of mortgage credits also exceeds all predictions.

Still, we all of course understand that this task is not accomplished merely by providing a certain number of square meters of housing or giving a certain amount of roubles as credit.

I shall remind you that already this year the percentage of families who have the opportunity to obtain housing that is presently under construction should increase to 14 percent. And to 17 percent in 2007. This represents a serious target within the project. We must understand whether enough has been done to ensure that these figures can be realized. I expect that we shall hear the answers to these questions in the Minister of Regional Development’s speech.

Now, the national project to develop agriculture is first and foremost designed to increase farmers’ incomes. It is important that they receive a worthy wage for their work. It is important that we have enough agricultural products of Russian origin. But we can hardly achieve any successes if agricultural products are going to be ruthlessly gathered up by a different kind of intermediary. I am not even talking about the systematic problems that we both know well such as price disparity, problems linked to energy products and so on.

These intermediaries, these actors, act like racketeers and, as a matter of fact, force farmers to hand over their products for nothing. What happens sometimes in trade markets can be defined by a single word: an outrage. People that bring their products to the market as well as the market administration itself and law-enforcement agencies play a secondary role in this. Criminal groups play a major role in markets. And all of this results in our citizens being rightly indignant.  

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that there are many problems here connected with the situations we have recently been confronted with. We cannot overlook the recent tragic events. We cannot, and I am not only referring to Kondopoga. What happened in Moscow? What happened in other regions? There were attacks on foreigners, and also our citizens were attacked and killed. And this is in part due to the fact that the government, regional and municipal authorities have not been able to regulate this sphere of activity until now. Endemic corruption in the power bodies and in the law-enforcement agencies. And of course citizens are not pleased.

I understand that not all legislative measures are in place to resolve these problems, but I am convinced that according to the current legislation of the Russian government, the regional and local authorities and the numerous supervising agencies working together can and are obliged to take the appropriate measures. I charge the Russian government to take immediate decisions with respect to regulating trade in the wholesale and retail market-places and regulating the presence of foreign workers in these markets including by making the market-place management amenable to law for the infringement of migratory rules both by those working in the market-place and those involved in trade.  And to make the visa regime applicable to foreign citizens that infringe Russian legislation stricter.

I charge the heads of the regions of the Russian Federation to take additional measures to improve trade in the wholesale and retail markets with a view to protect the interests of Russian producers and population, the native Russian population.

As you can see, the agenda is extensive. In addition, at the last Council session we agreed that today we shall determine in which territories we shall construct new centres for medical technology in 2007. But in view of the density of today’s session I suggest that we transfer this issue to the Presidium.

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