Mikhail Mishustin delivered an unprecedented voluminous report to the State Duma: his report lasted 100 minutes, and the Prime Minister spoke with deputies for almost 2.5 hours. Contrary to expert forecasts promising a difficult year for the Russian economy, the chief of staff is full of optimism. The sanctions, he said, were defeated by the “collective collective spirit”. “We expect that in 2024 the adjustment period will end and Russia will embark on the path of long-term gradual development,” he said.
The speech of the head of government in the State Duma began with an exchange of courtesies. First they applauded Mishustin himself, then the ministers accompanying him. Then the Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, remembered the lady sitting in the presidium and asked everyone to separately greet the head of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, with applause. MPs did not begin to limit the report of the Cabinet of Ministers in time, so Mikhail Mishustin decided to go for a personal record. The total duration of his speech was 1 hour 40 minutes – only 5 minutes less than the President’s speech in the Federal Assembly. At the start, the prime minister pointed to the unprecedented pressure of sanctions that Russia was under in 2022. He traditionally did not name the reasons for this pressure, but he pointed out that countries in the West have taken arms precisely against the people. “They wanted to cause mass unemployment, to worsen the quality of life of Russians,” Mishustin explained. But thanks to the swift and coordinated work of the government, these goals were not achieved. The economic downturn was mild and the vast majority of Russians felt nothing at all. Without false modesty, the Prime Minister recalled that this is not the first time that the system has shown such flexibility: Russia has also overcome the covid crisis much better than many developed countries.
Mishustin then moved on to the 12 priority areas that the Cabinet of Ministers set itself and gave a detailed report on each of them. Again, there were many achievements: targeted payments, the beneficiaries of which are 35 million people, increased, another record was broken in housing construction, the share of domestic electronics in the domestic market doubled , 80% of foreign software already has Russian counterparts, the production of knitwear has started in Ivanovo, more than 1000 new drugs have been registered, etc.
Mishustin stressed that one of the priorities of the Cabinet of Ministers was also to meet the needs of the SVO. And after the DPR, LPR, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions became part of the Russian Federation, the government began to deal in detail with their integration and development. New regions, according to the prime minister, should be declared a free economic zone – the corresponding bill will go to the State Duma on Friday. Donbass needs investments in metallurgy, mechanical engineering, coal mining and chemical industry. In the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, agriculture is expected to become the main driver. The Prime Minister promised potential investors “basic state aid mechanisms”, supplemented by “tax incentive measures”.
When Mikhail Mishustin finished, Volodin lamented that not all deputies found the strength to listen to his report to the end. “How can we start a conversation if someone has already lost the previous one,” he said, looking at the empty seats in the room. According to the rules, each faction had to ask the Prime Minister 5 questions each. But in the end we agreed on three.
The ten MPs from all factions, who failed to ask questions, were lucky in a way: the prime minister invited them all to the government to discuss topics of interest to them in a separate chat. .
The questions raised in the meeting room did not touch directly on the subject of the special military operation and its economic aspects. Yana Lantratova (SR), in particular, asked whether the government planned to offer alternatives to USE. Mr Mishustin acknowledged that this question had been put to him several times in meetings preceding the report by MPs from many factions, but he personally believes that “the abolition of the unified state examination requires a very serious discussion “. “Today, with the help of the USE, children from distant corners can enter the main universities of the country and study there,” he recalled, but said he was ready to “systematically examine” any proposal for alternative forms of knowledge control at the USE. . “Among about 20,000 questions that came to the State Duma from citizens before the government report, the issue of the unified state exam is among the five most frequently discussed, it is necessary to broach the subject”, estimated Mr. Volodin. .
Photo: Natalia Gubernatorova
“The media are actively discussing the topic of the growth of the budget deficit, a number of social networks give very gloomy forecasts for the development of our economy, and citizens have a reasonable question – will the state be able to provide pensions, salaries to state employees, are there funds to fulfill social obligations, will it be necessary to include the printing press,” said Viktor Seliverstov (ER). March 8, 2023, the revenue of the federal budget amounted to 3 trillion rubles, and expenditure – 6.3 trillion, but the reason for this is “simple”, explained the Prime Minister: it’s just that from the January 1, the government funded some of the spending ahead of schedule, many of which are usually left at the end of the fiscal year, and, he believes, “the deficit will gradually align with the set parameters.” in the budget for 2023″, i.e. it will amount to approx. n 2% of GDP. The government will finance the deficit mainly through public borrowing in the country, as well as using funds from the National Welfare Fund. “Our public debt is at the level of around 15% of GDP now,” Mr. Mishustin said, which he said is much lower than the public debt of “hostile states”.
During the discussion, the Prime Minister repeatedly stressed that the work of parliament and government is proceeding constructively. The chairman of the State Duma took advantage of one of these moments to say that the deputies “wish a backlash” to the initiative to ban vapes: “we must save the children, because it is a addiction, everyone walks around with these devices”. The health minister supports MPs, Mr Volodin said, but the finance ministry does not, “because they count the money”. “We’ll think it over, we’ll take a stand, of course,” Mr. Mishustin replied, but did not express his opinion on the matter.
By the way, the sale of nicotine-containing mixtures for electronic smoking devices to minors is already prohibited in Russia.
In their speeches, representatives of Duma factions generally praised the Cabinet of Ministers. The leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov did not become an exception, although he complained that so far he personally does not see the “mobilization of all resources” necessary in the conditions current. Leonid Slutsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, called it “the government that defeated sanctions”. From the rostrum of the State Duma, Mr. Mishustin was greeted with long applause.
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