Vladimir Putin delivers State of Nation Address

Vladimir Putin delivers State of Nation Address

Russian President Vladimir Putin is delivering his annual Presidential Address to Federal Assembly legislators in Moscow today. In his address, the president assesses the state of affairs throughout the country and sets the main trajectories for domestic and foreign policy. 

The speech will focus on internal economic and social development, especially the "national projects" in education, housing, agriculture, and health care.

"Russia has now entered a very difficult demographic period. The birth rate is decreasing. But this does not mean that we should accept this situation," Putin said in his address to the Federal Assembly.

The president noted that Russia must move only forward. "We must move only forward gaining pace of that movement all the time," the Russian leader stressed.

According to Putin, the National Priority Projects, which are being implemented nationwide, are strategic, but it is necessary to work on them even now.

"We are pressed for time, I have said that on numerous occasions, and you are perfectly aware of that. We cannot waste it on more coordination," he said.

"It’s absolutely unacceptable to deviate from the targets. These tasks are complicated, but we cannot ‘lower the bar’ of specific objectives," Putin said, adding that these tasks "correspond to the scale and speed of changes in the world."

In 2023-2024 we will be able to achieve the restoration of national population growth," he said.

Putin said that mortgages for families with a lot of children must be reduced for the entire period, whereas the current 6% rate stands only for the first three–five years of mortgage, and later rises to the market level.

"The tax burden on the family must be reduced - the principle must be 'the more kids, the less taxes'," the Russian leader noted.

Land plots of a traditional size of 6 ares will be fully exempt from taxes for such families, and this incentive will have a federal status. The government will compensate 450,000 rubles of mortgages to the families with three and more children, he said.

The groups of families with children qualifying for financial aid must be extended to those who fail to earn at least two minimum incomes per capita in a family.

The payments to families with children with severest disabilities will rise to 10,000 rubles from July 1 from 5,500 rubles. "I understand, of course, that this is not much as well, nevertheless, this measure will provide additional support to the families where the children need care," Putin said.

He reiterated that Russia needs grace periods for mortgage payment in case of a job loss or a grave disease, and that the government must organize such support without hurting banks.

"The solution of demographic problems, the growth of life expectancy, reduction of the death rate are directly related to poverty reduction. Let me remind you that in 2000, more than 40 million people were behind the poverty line, now about 19 million, but this is too many as well,"he said.

Putin stressed that Russians should feel improvements in their life according to results of national projects implementation already this year. "We should feel real changes in assessments by citizens already in coming future, in this year. We will make first conclusions of work under national projects early next year," he said in the address.

Russian authorities now have an opportunity "to allocate and focus financial resources that are enormous for our country on development goals" at present, the head of state said.

"Nobody donated them to us; we have not borrowed them. These funds were earned by millions of our citizens, by the whole country. They should be disposed so that to multiply the wealth of Russia and welfare of Russian families," he stressed.

The Russian leader proposed to introduce a mechanism of social contracts to fight poverty in Russia. "Social contracts can become a working mechanism for such support [for the poor]," Putin said.

The president has ordered the Central Bank and law enforcement agencies to normalize the country’s microfinance market as soon as possible.

"I request the Bank of Russia and law enforcement agencies normalize the microfinance market as soon as possible," the Russian leader ordered.

He highlighted the need to "protect the people from fraud and extortion attempts made by unscrupulous creditors."

Vladimir Putin stressed that the electronic system in the healthcare sector should be tuned up in three years. "Information support of healthcare should work for greater accessibility of medical aid. There is a need to establish electronic interaction among medical institutions, drugstores, doctors and patients within three years," Putin noted.

In his view, medical and social expert institutions must be included into the overall digital network also. "Aged and disabled individuals and families with children should be relieved thereby from queues and gathering of sometimes senseless references," he added.

The head of state stated that medical care should be available in all regions of the country by the end of 2020.

"In remote settlements, even getting an appointment with a medical worker is problematic. By the end of 2020, medical care should be available in all, and I want to emphasize that, in all inhabited communities throughout Russia without exception and for all citizens," Putin said.

According to him, to do that it is necessary to build and modernize more than 1,500 outpatient clinics in Russia’s regions. "As many as 1,590 outpatient clinics and primary healthcare facilities are to be built and modernized in 2019 and 2020 alone," the Russian leader noted.

The head of state suggested Russia will spend 1 trillion rubles on oncological diseases in six years.

Putin said that Russia have a strong financial safety cushion. "I can inform you - and this is a nice and good piece of news - our reserves completely cover the foreign debt of the state, which is very small, and the commercial sector for the first time in our history," he said.

Putin stressed that Russia needs to improve its business climate, raise attractiveness of national jurisdiction by removing a constant threat of getting under prosecution for businessmen.

"Almost half of the cases today, 45%, initiated against businessmen, are cancelled before they go to court. What does that mean? This means that they were initiated unduly or for a poor reason. What does that mean in practice? As a result, each businessman whose business is wrecked for this reason is responsible for 130 employees who lose the job," he stated.

The Russian leader noted that one of the priorities is "improvement of the business climate and the quality of national jurisdiction so that no one flees abroad, to other jurisdictions, to have everything safe and working like a clock."

He ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Supreme Court to analyze the situations when people suspected of criminal offences remain in jail for months without questioning.

"Now is the time for bold initiatives, for creating businesses and industries, promoting new products and services, and the wave of technological development allows us to grow and conquer markets very quickly," Putin said.

"We already have examples of successful companies, innovative companies, so that there would be much more, in particular in such areas as artificial intelligence and big data processing, the Internet of things, robotics," the head of state added.

"I am instructing the government to create the most comfortable conditions for private investment in technology start-ups, to target them at support and development, and I am asking the lawmakers to quickly adopt priority laws to create the legal environment of the new digital economy, which will make it possible to enter into civil transactions and raise financing using digital technologies, develop e-commerce and services. All our legislation needs to be tuned to a new technological reality," he stressed.

The state address practice was introduced by President Boris Yeltsin, who first addressed the parliament on February 24, 1994. All in all, he delivered six addresses to the Federal Assembly. President Putin addressed the Federal Assembly 14 times, while Dmitry Medvedev delivered four addresses as President. The ceremony is traditionally attended by upper and lower house members, government ministers, presidential staff officials, heads of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, diplomats, journalists, etc.

Until last year, the format of this event was quite conservative; however, the Presidential Address of 2018 was remembered for its use of multimedia technology. Using video presentations on large screens for the first time, the president showed the world a number of recent Russian weapons developments.

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