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    Putin Visits Hospital To Assess COVID-19 Crisis

    During a televised address to the nation, Vladimir Putin sought to reassure Russian citizens and markets that the government would use all of its available force to stave off economic collapse.
    Vladimir Putin compliments the Russians in the fight over coronavirus COVID-19. The head of state noted that Russia, due to its geographical location, cannot completely block the penetration of infection into its territory.

    In this regard, the president urged fellow citizens to observe the precautions and instructions of doctors. Also, Putin declared a week from March 28 to April 5 non-working to prevent the spread of the disease. In addition, the Russian leader announced a number of social and economic measures designed to support the population, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, which were in a difficult situation due to the consequences of the pandemic. RT cites the full text of Vladimir Putin’s appeal.

    Dear citizens of Russia! Dear friends! I am addressing you on the issue that is of concern to us all now. We see how sharply the situation with the epidemic of coronavirus in the world is developing. In many countries, the number of cases continues to increase. The entire world economy was under attack, and now its decline is forecasted.

    Thanks to the measures taken in advance, we are generally able to restrain both the wide and rapid spread of the disease. But we must understand that Russia - simply because of its geographic location - cannot isolate itself from the threat. Near our borders are states that are already seriously affected by the epidemic, and it is objectively impossible to completely block its penetration into our country.

    But what we can and are already doing is to work professionally, in an organized manner and in advance. And the main priority here is the life and health of our citizens. All capabilities and resources are connected to the deployment of a system of timely medical care and prevention. I would especially like to turn to our scientists to doctors, medical assistants, medical sisters, employees of hospitals, polyclinics, FAPs, ambulance services.

    You are now at the forefront of defending the country. I sincerely thank you all for your dedicated work. I ask citizens to pay utmost attention to the recommendations of doctors and authorities. A lot depends on it now. This is especially true for the most vulnerable groups of the population: older people and those who suffer from chronic diseases. And for them, and for all citizens, the task now is to minimize risks.

    Naturally, the question arises of organizing a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments with a predefined date of April 22. You know how seriously, how seriously I take this. And, of course, I will ask you to come and express your opinion on this issue - a matter of principle, key for our country, for our society. However, as I said earlier, the absolute priority for us is the health, life and safety of people.

    Therefore, I believe that the vote should be postponed to a later date. We will evaluate how the situation will develop both in the regions and in the country as a whole, and only relying on professional opinion and the recommendations of doctors and specialists, we will decide on a new voting day. Further. It is now crucial to prevent the threat of the rapid spread of the disease.

    I declare the next week non-working, with salary remaining. That is, the weekend will last from Saturday, March 28, to Sunday, April 5.

    Naturally, all life support structures, including medical institutions, pharmacies, shops, institutions providing banking, financial calculations, transportation, as well as authorities at all levels will continue to work. I repeat, long days off are provided precisely in order to reduce the spread of the disease. I appeal to all citizens of the country. Let's not do it, relying on our Russian chance. Please do not think, as it happens with us: “Ah! It will not concern me.

    ” It can affect everyone. And then what is happening today in many Western countries - both in Europe and overseas - may become our immediate future. All recommendations must be followed. It is necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones, to show discipline and responsibility. And believe me: the safest thing now is to be at home.

    I will dwell separately on the current socio-economic situation. Here we also need additional steps - first of all, to ensure the social protection of citizens, the preservation of their income and jobs, as well as the support of small and medium-sized businesses, in which millions of people are employed.

    In this regard, the following priority measures will be implemented. The first one. All social benefits and benefits that are due to citizens over the next six months should be renewed automatically, without providing any additional certificates and visits to authorities. For example, if a family has the right to benefits on housing and communal services, it will not need to regularly confirm the level of its income in order to receive such support.

    I also draw attention to: payments to the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory to veterans and home front workers of 75 and 50 thousand rubles, respectively, should be made before the May holidays - earlier than usual, in April.
    The second one. It is necessary to support families with children. In the next three months, starting in April, I propose to pay all families eligible for maternity capital an additional 5 thousand rubles per month for each child under the age of three years inclusive. Such support is especially important for families where children are not currently attending nursery or kindergarten, for parents who are on sick leave or on maternity leave.

    As for our new support measure, namely payments for children aged three to seven years inclusive, I instruct the government to speed up all organizational activities so that families begin to receive these payments not in July, as planned, but a month earlier, in June . I also ask the governors to expedite the transfer of necessary information from regional registry offices to the tax service. Colleagues, it is fundamentally important to start paying. Pay attention to this.

    The third. It is necessary to support those who were on sick leave or lost their jobs. Now sick leave is calculated based on the experience of the employee and his salary. As a result, employees, especially young people, can receive extremely low sick leave payments. This, of course, is unfair. I propose to establish the norm: sick leave payments should be calculated based on the amount of at least one minimum wage per month.

    So far, such a norm will be valid until the end of this year, and then we will make a decision taking into account the situation. The Russian economy, like the economies of other countries, is experiencing strong negative pressure due to the consequences of epidemics. And it is necessary, as I said, to support those who may face job loss. Now (with the exception of some categories of citizens), the maximum payment of unemployment benefits is limited to the amount of 8 thousand rubles per month. I propose to increase it to the level of the minimum wage, that is, up to 12,130 rublesFourth. Another risk zone is loans to citizens.

    It is clear that with a sharp reduction in income, paying debt in the previous regime is difficult or simply impossible. I propose to provide holidays for both consumer and mortgage loans. What is it about. If a person finds himself in a difficult life situation, namely: his monthly income has sharply decreased by more than 30%, he should have the right to temporarily suspend servicing his debt and prolong it. Of course, without any penalties. I ask the Bank of Russia to provide a similar mechanism for the extension of loans for individual entrepreneurs.

    If the repayment of debt due to objective reasons is in principle impossible, then in this case, a citizen should not get into a dead end, become a hostage to the claims of creditors. Bankruptcy proceedings should be feasible and not burdensome. I ask the government and parliament to expedite the adoption of the necessary changes in the regulatory framework.

    Fifth. Small and medium businesses, microenterprises, especially in the service sector, are now facing objective difficulties, with a reduction in orders and a decrease in revenue. It is necessary to help such companies to continue sustainable work, and therefore, to keep their employees. I repeat: our most important task - I turn now to all employers - is to ensure stability in the labor market and prevent a surge in unemployment.

    The state will assist business in solving this problem. I propose for those enterprises, for those industries that are most affected by the current difficult situation, to provide the following support measures. For small and medium-sized businesses, I consider it necessary to provide a deferral of all taxes, except VAT, for the next six months. And for micro-enterprises, in addition to such a tax deferral, also give a deferment in insurance contributions to social funds.

    As for bank loans, here small and medium-sized companies, microenterprises, which find themselves in a difficult situation, should receive a delay in loans also for the next six months. In general, I ask the government and the Central Bank to propose and take additional measures to ensure sustainable lending to the real sector, including the provision of state guarantees and subsidies.

    Further. Enterprises that find themselves in a difficult situation must be protected from bankruptcy. In this regard, I propose introducing a six-month moratorium on filing creditors' applications for bankruptcy of companies and collecting debts and fines. I repeat: these measures will be extended to companies operating in sectors most affected by the current difficult situation. At the same time, I instruct the government to constantly monitor the situation and, if necessary, expand, adjust the list of industries that need support.

    Sixth. Now we are obliged to do everything to support the incomes of citizens, primarily those employed in small and medium enterprises. In order for such enterprises to have additional resources for this, I propose to halve, from 30% to 15%, reduce the amount of insurance premiums for them. Such a reduced rate will apply to the amount of salary exceeding the minimum wage, the minimum wage. If the salary is at the minimum wage level or for some reason even lower, then the rate remains the same - 30%.

    I draw your attention: the reduced rate is introduced not for several months, not only as an anti-crisis measure, but, as they say, for a long time, for the future. And so we create a long-term incentive for employers to raise salaries for their employees. And finally, I propose two more measures. I will say about them separately. The first one. All income payments (in the form of interest and dividends) going from Russia abroad to offshore jurisdictions should be taxed with adequate tax.

    Now two-thirds of such funds, and, in fact, this is the income of specific individuals, as a result of various kinds of schemes of so-called optimization are subject to a real tax rate of only 2%. Whereas citizens, even with small salaries, pay an income tax of 13%. This is, to say the least, unfair.
    Therefore, I propose for those who withdraw their income in the form of dividends to foreign accounts, to provide a tax rate on such dividends of 15%.

    Naturally, this will require adjustments to our double tax treaties with some countries. I ask the government to organize such work. If foreign partners do not accept our proposal, then Russia will withdraw from these agreements unilaterally. And let's start with those countries through which significant resources of Russian origin pass, which is the most sensitive for our country.

    The second one. In many countries of the world, the interest income of individuals from deposits in banks and investments in securities is subject to income tax. We do not tax such income. I propose for citizens whose total amount of bank deposits or investments in debt securities exceeds 1 million rubles, to establish a tax on interest income in the amount of 13%. That is, I repeat, not the contribution itself, but only the interest received from such investments will be taxed on personal income.

    I emphasize: such a measure will affect only about 1% of investors. At the same time, the conditions for placing funds in Russian banks will remain attractive and one of the most highly profitable in the world. The proposed solutions are not easy. But please treat them with understanding. And I will add: all the additional budgetary revenues that will be received as a result of the implementation of the two indicated measures, I propose to direct in a targeted way to financing measures to support families with children, to help people who are faced with unemployment or find themselves on sick leave.

    Dear citizens of Russia!

    All measures that are being taken and will be taken will work, will give a result, if we show unity, understanding the complexity of the current situation. If the state, society, citizens will act together, if we do everything that depends on each of us. We need to remember our personal responsibility for our loved ones, for those who live nearby, who need our help and support.

     By and large, it is in such solidarity that the strength of a society lies, the reliability of mutual assistance, the effectiveness of our response to the challenge that we face. Thank you for your attention!

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