#12 - JRL 7254
Russian president discusses problems with local authority representatives
Source: Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 17 Jul 03
[Newsreader] Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting one Russia's most ancient villages, Staraya Ladoga, today. It is referred to as the first capital of Russia, the place where Russian statehood began. Here is our correspondent, Maksim Kiselyev, live from Staraya Ladoga.
[Correspondent] One of today's main events in Staraya Ladoga, as well as the president's familiarization with the architectural features of Russia's most ancient capital, was a meeting with the heads of local municipal bodies and organizations. The meeting has been going on for about an hour now.
The issue is a very important one - the problem of reviving and developing Russia's towns, as almost half of Russians live in them. One of the most
difficult subjects, naturally, is the revival of the housing and utilities sector. Today the heads of municipal bodies even proposed to the president that debts for housing and utilities be written off. But President Putin replied that this would not be expedient, and the decree that he signed recently aimed at easing the financial burden of agricultural enterprises was not about writing off debts, but only about writing off fines. Putin also said that the government has been actively preparing a financial basis for implementation of the law on municipal authorities. Here is what he said about this:
[Putin] The municipal authorities have great responsibilities. Frankly speaking, you know that over the last decade problems were simply dropped on them, in particular, the housing and utilities sector, education, and healthcare to a significant extent. But funding to fulfil those obligations was inadequate. The government is now working on introducing changes to the tax and budget codes so as to create the necessary basis for work.
[Correspondent] The president also stressed today that one of the possibilities for developing and reviving the housing and utilities sector could be to develop small and medium-sized business in Russia's towns and villages.
[passage omitted: Putin sees the sights, goes on walkabout, chats to pensioners]
The president unveiled a memorial plaque in honour of the 1,250th anniversary of the founding of Staraya Ladoga.
[passage omitted: historical details]