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Russia’s 1st deputy PM pledges government will not push reforms against society’s will

February 01, 2015, 23:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Igor Shuvalov vowed on Sunday in its anti-crisis efforts the government would focus on supporting people rather than owners of enterprises
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© ITAR-TASS/Michail Klimentiev

MOSCOW, February 1. /TASS/. Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister pledged on Sunday the government would not push reforms against society’s will.

"So far, our society is not ready for that (painful structural reforms in education and healthcare and raising retirement age). We are discussing these issues, and we understand that such discussion is essential. In any case, these painful decisions can be adopted only based on people’s will. They cannot be pushed through, we are not living in 1991-1992," he said at the Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov television programme on Russia’s Channel One.

"Are we prepared to close medical institutions, polyclinics or district hospitals in remote regions promptly and resolutely, like it was done in some of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)? Are we ready to close our schools? Of course, not," he said.

Financing anti-crisis plan

Russia’s government will make final decision on financing an anti-crisis plan at its meeting on Monday, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Sunday.

The government adopted an anti-crisis plan of 60 measures on January 28. On Friday, January 30, the cabinet referred this pan to the Russian State Duma lower parliament house. So far, the government has not yet decided on the volume of financing of a number of the plan’s measures.

"On Monday, we will have a special meeting, proposals have been submitted to the government. So, we will decide of financing of these measures on Monday," Shuvalov told the Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov television programme on Russia 1 TV channel.

He stressed that the government had 166 billion roubles (2.4 billion U.S. dollars) to finance the implementation of the anti-crisis measures. In case more funds were needed, he said, these could be found through re-distribution within state programmes.

The government would focus on supporting people

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov vowed on Sunday in its anti-crisis efforts the government would focus on supporting people rather than owners of enterprises.

"The main concern over this crisis is to support people, not owners of enterprises. And we will do our best to give people a possibility to receive additional professional education, to find a new job or even to have a possibility to move to a new job place," Shuvalov told.

During the economic crisis of 208-2009 the Russian government came under severe criticism from economists for its support to core enterprises regardless of their efficiency. Back then, Shuvalov led the government’s anti-crisis commission.

"We are not going to throw enormous funds to save business entities, enterprises and owners," he pledged, adding that state corporations were also tasked to increase their efficiency.

"As concerns state corporations, it is necessary to put things to rights in what is linked with big wages and inefficient expenditures," the stressed.

Rouble exchange rate will no longer be stable

 

Russia’s government is prepared to take legislative measures if it sees no steps from retailers and wholesalers on curbing hiking prices, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Sunday.

He said that the government observed increased profitability in trade and did not believe companies attributing price hikes to the rouble devaluation, especially in cases of trade in Russia-made products.

"If there is no cooperation, no dialogue, we will have to resort to legislatives restrictions," Shuvalov told.

"We will have to resort to certain legislative solutions in case wholesalers and retailers do not cooperate with the authorities. It is unwise to simple raise (prices) to ensure a dollar profitability of a year ago," he noted.

He stressed that there would be no stability in the rouble exchange rate any longer, with rouble either strengthening or weakening. "We will now see the rouble strengthening but we must get used the fact that the rouble exchange rate will no longer be as stable as it used to be. The rouble will be strengthening and it will be weakening. This is a normal process," he said.

He pledged that the government will do its best to explain to the people to be careful in keeping their savings and taking credits so that to avoid dependence of the rouble exchange rate. "If you live in Russia, you’d better spend your money in roubles. Never mix up with the exchange rate," he said.

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