The agenda includes efforts to control the incidence of new coronavirus infection and to provide stable economic performance.
Mikhail Mishustin’s opening remarks:
I have signed a directive to form a Coordination Council to control the incidence of coronavirus infection and to appoint the members. I will head the council myself. You know that the President is paying special attention to this problem. We have established a task group in the State Council to control the incidence of coronavirus infection. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin will be the head of the group. He will also be my first deputy in the Coordination Council. Tatiana Golikova will be working in the medical and social sectors, she will also be my deputy. Andrei Belousov, in his position as deputy council chair, will be coordinating and submitting proposals on reducing the influence of the pandemic on the economy and what instruments can support small and medium business. Dmitry Chernyshenko will have a similar role, he will be responsible for monitoring key indicators and also for the communication lines that are important to guaranteeing control of this disease in Russia.
We will soon build a system of continuous notification for people on the developments in this area, including the social media. We will also start a unified telephone hotline. We will be posting up-to-date information all over the country, all regions, regarding how many people have fallen ill and how many have recovered. We will provide full online monitoring of the most important economic and social parameters.
Coronavirus is a variety of respiratory infection that has been insufficiently researched so far. This virus was brought into Russia by people who returned from countries where it had spread. And the growing number of cases in Russia, which we have observed recently, is the result of contact between their family members or between them and others.
In many countries the situation is developing unfavourably. There are significant risks to people’s lives and health and to normal business operations.
People all over the world are adjusting their lifestyles. The proactive preemptive measures we took as early as last February allowed us to seriously restrict the spread of the coronavirus in Russia. We must do everything we can to prevent the situation from developing as it has in other countries, and we are consistently closing our borders depending on the spread of the pandemic. To begin with, we did this with China and other Asian countries that were the first to face this threat. We also restricted air traffic with the EU countries when the virus started to spread there, suspended the entry of foreigners via the borders with Poland and Norway, and shut down railway traffic with Latvia, Moldova and Ukraine. We have also decided to close our border with Belarus for people and have taken a number of other preemptive steps. We will continue doing everything we can to protect our country from this new threat. We will continue to be proactive and take exhaustive measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on a large scale. We are deliberately introducing the current restrictions to avoid tougher measures in the future.
A strategic session of the Coordination Council took place on Saturday. We drafted a number of priority measures and deem it necessary to take a number of steps again today so as to prevent the negative impact of the coronavirus on our economy and our people.
The Government can access the reserve of 300 billion roubles from this year’s budget for priority expenses and support for industries and individuals. The number of state guarantees for assistance will be increased as well.
Obviously, healthcare requirements deserve primary attention. I am instructing those concerned to provide for a special order for sick leave payments for those who were quarantined and guarantee additional incentives for medical staff that are working to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
I would like to instruct you, Ms Golikova to establish jointly with Mr Siluanov a special fund for bonuses for the doctors that distinguished themselves, risking their life and health, in countering the coronavirus. I would also like to instruct Ms Golikova, to ensure, in cooperation with the State Duma, prompt adoption of a draft law on the retail sales of non-prescription medications to make it possible to order and deliver them online as soon as possible.
To provide for stabilising the economy, I would like to instruct you to draft a plan of priority actions before the end of Tuesday. It should include the following measures.
First, it is necessary to support trade by simplifying trade functions and making it possible to create a reliable reserve of basic goods. Retail businesses must receive access to subsidised loans for this purpose. We must also simplify delivery procedures both inside and outside the country. Starting tomorrow it is necessary to cancel restrictions on commercial transport related to retail in the city zone, and start a green lane at customs for essential food and non-food products that are purchased by large retailers and other importers. These measures will be in effect for one month.
Second, we need to support industries that have found themselves in a predicament. I am primarily referring to tourism and the airlines. The Government has already made a decision to defer their tax obligations. It may be possible to do this for other affected industries and companies eventually.
Third, small- and medium-sized companies must receive support. First, we should allow access to loans with reasonable interest rates. To achieve this, I suggest expanding the current subsidised loan programmes, remove as many restrictions as possible and increase the amounts in granted subsidies.
Fourth, we must adjust our regulations to motivate government bodies, in part, the regulatory authorities, to help businesses in the current situation as much as possible.
However, these are just top priority steps. We will certainly inform you in detail of our subsequent actions.
I would like to emphasise that we will be absolutely open and won’t conceal anything as regards the coronavirus and the efforts to curb the spread of the virus. We will tell you what is going on, what is being forecast, what difficulties we are facing and what positive changes we have made.
Every day, the Council will draft decisions and coordinate actions to limit the spread of this infection and its consequences.
Of course, countering this pandemic is a goal not only for government agencies but also for all of society, including responsible businesses. I would like to ask large corporations to use their resources to curb the spread of the coronavirus infection. In coordination with our headquarters, they must take comprehensive measures for the failsafe operation of their enterprises and the protection of their employees from the coronavirus and also submit proposals on the involvement of business in the actions of the Government and regional administrations on countering the virus.
I would like to address our people again. The coronavirus infection primarily threatens elderly people and those with some diseases, especially chronic ones. This is borne out by the experience of the countries that have already been hit by the virus. Our physicians and scientists are saying the same.
Today’s essential self-restrictions are primarily aimed at prevention. We are trying to be proactive. We are taking tough albeit absolutely justified measures to protect our people. I would like you to treat this with understanding. The more organised and responsible we are during this difficult period, the quicker we will curb this threat and will bring the situation back to normal.
Please help each other and take care of each other. I am sure that combined with the measures now being taken by the Government, a responsible attitude to your own health will allow us to promptly stabilise the situation.