President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Mishustin, we agreed to meet after I bid good-bye to my guests from Daghestan. While they were here, we coordinated assistance for Derbent with the Finance Ministry. So, we are meeting a bit later than planned.
What shall be begin with? The implementation of national projects?
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin: Yes, Mr President, we can begin with the implementation of national projects. We are ready to talk about this too.
The mean level of our achievements under national projects is probably the most important figure. I have prepared a special document for you, which shows that it is 98.95 percent. Mr President, the assessment method is extremely important, because the percentage is impressive, but our assessment method is based on three elements.
The first has to do with the measures we coordinated at our strategic meetings as methods of attaining the goals of national projects and the national development goals.
The second aspect concerns funding, that is, the efficient and targeted use of funds.
The third element is feedback, which you always mention. We have a special method to gauge it.
These are the underlying principles of our methods for assessing the implementation of national projects.
It is important that today the deputy prime ministers who oversee these projects are doing this regularly and consistently. You can look at each national project for more details later – science, culture, demography, housing and other projects. You can also look at the current situation with funding, including for so-called socially significant results, which the people want us to deliver.
We can take a look at these parameters in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises. For example, plans provided for creating 1,062 SMEs, whereas the actual figure for the first six months of 2023 is 1,453, which is far above the planned figure. The number of self-employed people has greatly increased as well. The same goes for the number of digital services, and so on.
How do we assess these results? Ecology, demography, healthcare and culture are the areas where people want to see results, of course, and they are a way of attaining the national development goals, which we are guided by in our activities, including based on your instructions.
Vladimir Putin: I see that the number of people relocated from dilapidated housing has nevertheless increased. It is on page 9.
Mikhail Mishustin: Yes, it has. You can see all the details here, Mr President.
The important thing is that we have also created a management system that allows us to look at these parameters online in the direct meaning of the word, honestly. I have demonstrated this to you on many occasions.
Mr President, the national economy is steadily recovering, despite the sanctions and all other obstacles created for our country. I looked at the figures when preparing for this meeting. Our GDP increased by 0.6 percent over the first five months and by 5.4 percent year on year in May, which is very important.
Forecasting is an unrewarding task, yet while preparing for a meeting with the President I was also thinking what annual forecast figure I could give. We are confident that we can achieve a 2 percent annual growth, barring force majeure.
Vladimir Putin: The IMF predicted 0.7 percent.
Mikhail Mishustin: Well, they predict different things.
Vladimir Putin: At the start of this year, it was plus 0.7 percent; then they slightly raised their forecast. Meanwhile our experts and the Ministry of Economic Development predicted 1.5–1.9 percent.
Mikhail Mishustin: The official forecast is currently lower but in August, we will review it. I can express my confidence that it should be over 2 percent with the indicators we are seeing now.
We have some more good news. You are well aware of the current inflation rate, which was 3.4 percent as of early July. Experts believe it will not exceed 5 percent per annum. We will see.
We created a special price monitoring system, used to primarily monitor the food basket. I report to you regularly. Every morning I receive reports on pricing trends that may be sensitive for consumers. The data comes from three or four sources, the Federal Service for National Statistics, tax services and our corresponding analytical centres. We monitor this data very carefully.
As concerns wages, if you remember, Mr President, at one of the previous meetings, you asked me about the expected increase in real wages in March. I answered that it would be about 3 percent. Now we have received precise figures: 2.7 percent. But to this date, four months later, the increase in real wages has reached 4.2 percent. We have a 4.2-percent growth in four months.
When it comes to year-on-year growth, the real increase in wages reached 10.4 percent in April, which is very significant. Nominal wages grew by 11.4 percent in four months. All these results indicate recovery and indicate that incomes have started to grow. In fact, it corresponds with the goal you set for us, which is to raise people’s incomes.
I have already told you about the GDP. We hope to see it grow by more than 2 percent. But it is important to understand what drives this growth. Right now, the growth is driven by processing industries. It is very important.
Vladimir Putin: Very good.
Mikhail Mishustin: This also includes issues linked with import substitution. This May, we posted 12.8 percent growth on May 2022, and we exceeded 2021 levels by 8.6 percent. On the whole, we can see that the situation is becoming sufficiently stable.
There are some other positive indicators. For example, wholesale trade increased by 8.4 percent this past May compared to May 2022, and the construction sector has expanded by 4.7 percent over the same period. Consequently, wholesale trade has soared by 14.5 percent in 12 months, and the construction sector has expanded by 13.5 percent over the same period.
Vladimir Putin: Domestic demand.
Mikhail Mishustin: Yes, this implies expanding domestic demand.
By the way, consumer activity increased in May, compared to the previous year, reaching 2021 levels (you and I also discussed this in great detail). Overall retail trade, public catering and paid services volumes increased by 8.8 percent, year on year, following a 7-percent increment. In other words, we are closely following current developments.
Regarding the labour market, you know the situation well: unemployment has hit an all-time low of 3.1–3.2 percent. What is really important is that you and I chaired a number of meetings to carefully adjust the personnel retraining system. We faced the threat of potential layoffs when companies left the country.
We have introduced multiple retraining programmes, and you know about them. I met with young people who had completed retraining courses at colleges. They were very happy because they wanted to find jobs to their liking and because they were able to obtain a new profession and a new job without any substantial expenses. We will continue to move in this direction.
I believe that we will accomplish all objectives. Most importantly, I am absolutely confident that we will meet all social commitments and provide all guarantees, including presidential guarantees to the population, first and foremost.
Vladimir Putin: This is very important. What is no less important is that at least for the time being, let us just say, cautiously, we are posting better results than the projected figures, which were expected by us. This gives us reason to hope that we will accomplish all objectives before the year is out, to say the least; in any event, regarding the objectives set by us.
Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you.