Thursday, 10 May 2012 13:18
MOSCOW - Russia's new President Vladimir Putin endorsed on Tuesday Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister, within an hour of parliament's approval of Putin's nominee.
Medvedev will have a week to submit to the president the composition of a new government, as well as candidates for the posts of deputy prime ministers and federal ministers.
Needing a majority support in the 450-seat State Duma, or lower house of parliament, the former president was approved 299-144. He was backed by two of the four State Duma factions, the United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Communists and A Just Russia lawmakers voted against the nomination.
Medvedev becomes the second person after Putin in the history of the Russian Federation to serve as prime minister after having been president.
During his address to the State Duma, the former president outlined the new government's vision on the economy and the society.
*BOOST THE ECONOMY
As a nominee for the prime minister, Medvedev had pledged to limit the federal budget deficit to 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) if elected.
He also claimed to reduce the energy intensity of GDP by 40 percent from the 2008 level, adding that "large-scale work has begun to raise energy efficiency" in the economy.
Medvedev also proposed that capital investment in the national economy should account for 25 to 27 percent of GDP.
"It is our task to increase the share of investment to 25 percent of GDP," said the new prime minister, adding "then it could be even raised to 27 percent" with a significant increase in foreign investment.
He noted that there is still room for improving business climate in Russia, despite progress in some areas.
"We are behind the leading world players in the state of competition and administrative, infrastructure, customs, and tax barriers," he said.
Meanwhile, Medvedev was opposed to the proposal of postponing Russia's ratification of its accession agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"I think the timeframe will be quite sufficient, because it's five years, and maybe even more, to enable us to get ready properly," he said.
The new head of the government also suggested tax reform to reduce tax burden, innovation of enterprises to boost the country' s economy.
*IMPROVE PEOPLE'S LIVELIHOOD
Addressing the State Duma, Medvedev vowed to improve people's livelihood in the next six years.
An average lifespan in Russia should reach 75 years by 2018, he said, adding the quality of life should "reach the middle class level."
The new government will also pay more attention to education. According to Medvedev, some 5 trillion rubles (167.8 billion U.S. dollars) will be injected in education in the next eight years.
The government will make a decision on the pensionable age in the new term, guided by a public consensus.
"We are quite capable of making decisions that will not upset our citizens or unbalance the pension system," he said, when answering lawmakers' questions relating to his nomination.
On housing, the new prime minister said up to 30 million people will have better homes before 2015.
"There is a bill extending the resettlement program until 2015, which will require additional allocations of no less than 400 billion rubles (13.4 billion dollars) from budgets of all levels," he said.
Medvedev also noted that the living standard in Siberia and Far East must be upgraded.
"People in Siberia and the Far Eas need living standard close to the European ones, instead of simple salaries and bonuses," he said.
Medvedev intended to build an open government in the upcoming six years as Russia's prime minister.
"I will be open to discussions with all political groups," he said, adding "I see this as my political duty."
Despite various views from different political groups, the future government would work together with everyone for one reason -- all of them want Russia to be prosperous, Medvedev said.
He also called on citizens to take part in the process of deciding the country's future.
"We really need to give the community of active citizens and experts a chance to participate in forging crucial state decisions, " he said.
Meanwhile, Medvedev said the work of the government must meet the interests of all citizens in Russia.
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