President of Russia Vladimir Putin: We are holding this meeting with only one week left until the New Year. It is right around the corner. We meet in this format every year. You know that the last days of the year usually fly by very quickly. People are busy trying to do more than they usually do, meet deadlines and deliver on their plans. I have no doubt that this is the way the Government is working right now, although probably this is the way the Government always works, not just today, with the New Year holidays fast approaching. After all, we live in challenging times, requiring all of us to be as effective and proactive as possible.
With all my heart, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for your work. I do understand and I can see that all of you have had to shoulder an additional burden. You have been managing this workload quite efficiently, acting in a concise manner and staying united as a team, as true professionals.
Not only did the national economy recover from last year’s downturn but it has already exceeded pre-crisis levels and is once again expanding. The situation on the labour market is now even better than it was before the crisis. Unemployment is declining.
Our effort to fight this dangerous epidemic is in its second year. We continued to undertake targeted measures to support people, families with children and preserve jobs, as well as assist the key sectors of the economy and enterprises, SMEs and socially-oriented non-profit organisations. This has required a major system-wide effort from us.
However, we know all too well that we have yet to rein in the epidemic. Unfortunately, too many people are still falling sick and dying every day. For this reason, I am asking you to continue paying special attention to matters related to supporting the healthcare system and to all epidemic control measures, including during the holiday season in early 2022.
In this connection, I would like to say a few words about the system-wide efforts that we will undertake next year.
Let me note that overall, national projects have been advancing on schedule despite all the challenges and the adjustments we were forced to make. You and I regularly discuss this. We are almost halfway through with these national projects. They have been in place for three years now, and all the plans we have announced must be fulfilled within the next three-year period. We discussed this recently at the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects.
Once again, I would like to emphasise that we must place people and their wellbeing at the centre of all our large-scale efforts to deliver on the national development goals. People must see and feel, as we have been saying all along, tangible change for the better in metropolitan cities, as well as in small towns and rural areas. This is what national projects are all about. Next year, we will all aspire to achieve these tangible and visible results.
Russia is mostly past the economic recovery stage. Our economy has shown high resiliency in the context of the pandemic and complex global challenges. Now we move to the next level where we need to ensure high-quality and long-term economic growth right away, without a pause. To achieve this, we have substantial state resources and the high investment potential of private business. We must use all growth factors to full capacity. I am referring to the aggressive development of infrastructure, digitalisation and technological upgrade of industries, promoting energy efficiency and advanced environmental standards, increasing non-resource exports, training forward-looking employees, and supporting people’s business initiative.
Naturally, our goal is not economic growth per se; that is not an end in itself. It is needed to create new jobs, to create a modern living environment across the country, in our cities and towns, and drive an increase in the people’s incomes, Russian families’ incomes.
Again, increasing people’s real incomes is the key issue here. We must employ all economic policy measures, including further suppressing inflation. We have some competing figures here – inflation has increased, but real disposable incomes have also increased. So we need to do everything in our power to keep inflation down, suppress it, while real disposable incomes grow. We need to protect people from price spikes that hit people with low incomes the hardest.
You know that decisions have been made to increase the indexation of the minimum wage and the subsistence level. We did that, and social benefits and payments will also increase accordingly. However, this is certainly not enough. This is only the necessary minimum of what the state is obliged to do.
We need to work more on creating the right conditions for people to have a solid source of income. This includes reducing the costs of doing business, helping businesses free up capital to raise wages, to maintain existing jobs and create new ones. In the coming year, I ask you to place special emphasis on employment programmes for young people, as well as work more with the regions where unemployment is high due to regional specifics – you know what I am talking about, primarily single-industry towns. To address this, we need targeted and weighted solutions for each specific region that is struggling with this problem.
In general, it is important to move from emergency anti-crisis support measures to system-wide steps to stimulate employment and business activity, to attract investment and technology to the Russian economy, to promising projects that should contribute to a decent and comfortable living in all regions of our country.
I will not list all the tasks right now, all the challenges facing you, us, the Government, the Presidential Office and the President personally in the new year. There is a lot of work to do, and I am sure that each of you feels a personal responsibility for your entrusted area. At the same time, a team effort is most important in achieving a common result in the interests of the people, of our entire vast country.
Once again, I thank you all for our joint work. I wish a very happy New Year to you, your colleagues, employees of the Government Staff, ministries, government agencies and all executive authority bodies.
I wish you good health, success and all the best in the New Year 2022.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin: Mr President, we would like to thank you for your kind words and your New Year greetings. Of course, from all our hearts we wish you and your close ones a Happy New Year. We would also like to thank you for being there for us throughout this year in all our undertakings. Let me also assure you that we will do everything to achieve the national development goals you have set. We will do everything for the people of Russia to live a good life.
Once again, thank you for your kind words.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Mishustin, please take note of the issues the correspondents from the regions raised yesterday during the annual news conference. I am referring to regional matters and problems. A journalist from Daghestan inquired about what to expect in their region in several spheres: energy, water supply, connections to gas pipelines, etc.
I also know that efforts are underway to overcome the consequences of an accident at the heat and power station [in Ulan-Ude]. There was also a question on Russian Railways, although the Government is less involved in this sector. Still, the Transport Ministry must help Russian Railways. They are ready to start selling tickets for the destinations mentioned by the Yoshkar-Ola correspondent, which includes trains to St Petersburg and the south of Russia. If Russian Railways needs help, please support them.
Mikhail Mishustin: Understood, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. All the best to all of you. Keep in touch.