TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects meeting

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – March 21, 2017)

Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects at the Kremlin.

Participants in the meeting reviewed progress in the implementation of priority projects in healthcare, as well as measures aimed at enhancing labour efficiency.

Transcript of the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

This is the Council’s first meeting in 2017. We will focus on issues that directly affect the quality of life and wellbeing of families in Russia, and are vital for the emergence of a strong, competitive economy. We will consider the development of healthcare, as well as issues related to enhancing labour efficiency.

I will start with healthcare. Over the recent years, substantial progress has been achieved in this area. Of course, life expectancy is a key indicator. It has now reached 72 years. Let me remind you that life expectancy increased by 6.5 years over the past 12 years, from 65.4 in 2005 to 71.87 in 2016. Men now live 7.7 years longer on average and women 4.6 years longer. As you know, over this period infant mortality declined from 10.2 to 6 per 1,000 births, and stood at 5.1 in January 2017. As for maternal deaths, the figures are even better, since the mortality rate dropped more than threefold.

An effective maternity and childcare system has been created, and medical facilities have benefited from significant upgrades alongside the development of high-technology medical care.

I would like to remind you that the number of patients who received high-tech medical assistance increased from 60,000 in 2005 to 963,100 in 2016, or nearly 15-fold. The number of medical facilities that provide such assistance has increased more than 10-fold, from 90 to 932.

We must definitely keep moving forward. We have the conditions to increase life expectancy in Russia to 76 years by 2025 and to considerably reduce the mortality rate among the economically active population.

I would also like to point out a few elements that give cause for concern, such as an increase in the death rate among the economically active population in 2015. The increase was not critical, but we must take note of this nevertheless.

For the situation to continue developing in the right vein, we must create a modern healthcare system at all levels, from elementary facilities to federal clinics, a system that will meet the highest international standards.

We must admit that there are still many unresolved problems, despite the positive changes. People say rightly and with good reason that there are not enough doctors, especially in small towns and villages. It is not easy to make an appointment with specialists or to have a medical examination quickly, and front desk employees are often unfriendly. In the Address to the Federal Assembly, I spoke about installing computers at healthcare facilities but this is only the technical aspect of the problem.

I would like to say again that we not only need to connect outpatient clinics and hospitals to the internet, but also to create conditions for people to make appointments with specialists and undergo medical examinations quickly and calmly, including senior citizens who have little knowledge about information technology and electronic records. If we do this, our doctors will have less paperwork and more time for their patients, for improving their professional skills or for receiving online assistance from their colleagues at regional and federal healthcare centres.

We need to elevate the prestige and status of medical workers, improve their financial well-being and safety net, including legal protection. Just like education, healthcare is more than a service, since the work that doctors and teachers do is vital to the future of the country and its people.

Let me emphasise that the key criteria for success in any project related to healthcare is to achieve the meaningful, tangible results that people expect: prompt and precise diagnostics and effective treatment, a considerate, human attitude toward patients, availability, quality and efficacy of medical drugs.

In the Address to the Federal Assembly, I spoke about the need to develop medical airlift services. This is about fair treatment and equal opportunity when it comes to accessing medical services across the country, which is especially relevant given how vast our country is.

Of course, we have to think long-term as well, and use the potential of Russian researchers to achieve breakthrough results in genetics, personalised medical care and biomedicine, Big Data processing, and the adoption of best practices at all levels of healthcare.

One more thing: it is important not only to treat people, but also to prevent them from getting sick and to promote a healthy lifestyle. We have to keep up our efforts in this area as well.

These goals and objectives call for effective management approaches, and substantial financial resources. I expect Ms Veronika Skvortsova [Minister of Healthcare] to make a detailed presentation on what needs to be done.

With regard to the second item on our agenda concerning labour productivity enhancement, clearly, this is a key issue that underlies economic growth. Notably, our targeted efforts have already helped us achieve steady productivity growth in certain economic sectors. For example, according to Rosstat, labour productivity in the aviation industry increased by 15.6 percent in 2012, 27 percent in 2013, and 29 percent in 2014. The figures for 2015 and 2016 are more modest, but overall, Russia’s productivity is generally less than 50 percent of the productivity of the truly efficient economies. Thanks to powerful progress in technology, this gap could drastically increase if we do not respond to it in a timely manner. According to the OECD, in 2015, the contribution of one worker to the GDP was $23.18 per hour in Russia, whereas in the OECD countries it was $46.53 per hour.

We need to increase labour productivity by at least 5 to 6 percent each year. These figures would be indicative of increased efficiency in the economy and at specific enterprises, the creation of modern jobs and decent wages, meaning that if we resolve this issue, personal income will also increase, and employees will be able to provide for their families and children.

Many professional opportunities will also open up to the young people who are just entering the labour market. Working with the regions, and with companies and businesses, it is imperative to build a clear-cut working system for supporting employment and labour mobility.

There must be one approach: if an old inefficient job is cut, then at least one new job must be created, both at major modern companies and in small businesses.

We realise that small businesses are of particular importance. Each person should be provided with an opportunity to get a new job or to open a business of their own, to improve their skills or acquire another profession; so it is fundamentally important that the programme designed to boost labour productivity is carried out in close coordination with measures to train personnel and promote entrepreneurship.

I propose testing this system in several regions within the framework of regional labour efficiency. The Government should select these regions and provide the necessary assistance. At the federal level, we should review the legal framework, remove obstacles to the development of a modern labour market and create additional incentives for companies to increase labour efficiency, modernise production and create new jobs.

We recently discussed this issue and related proposals from our companies at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. I ask the Government to analyse the situation jointly with our business associations, draft amendments to legislation and submit them to the State Duma without delay. As I have said, we must balance the task of increasing labour efficiency against the interests of businesses and the people. There is no question that the people’s right to employment must be protected in this period of technological revolution.

And lastly, I suggest creating a federal competence centre with assistance from our development institutions. It would promote the best international experience and the best Russian practices in enhancing labour efficiency and improving labour management. The idea is to optimise production and business processes and provide incentives for the workforce. Officials, including those from local governments, and company managers alike must learn these skills. I would like [Economic Development Minister] Maxim Oreshkin to tell us what the ministry thinks about ways to achieve these goals in all these areas.

Let us get down to work. Mr Skvortsova, you have the floor.

To be continued.