Russia Can Afford To Keep Putin’s Social Promises

Russia Hopes For UN Resolution On Syria This Week, Deputy FM Sergei Ryabkov Says

The demographic turnaround partly reflects policy measures, such as maternity grants, designed to encourage more births. Russia also plans to address other acute problems, such as low pay for public servants. “The absolute priority is the level of pay for teachers and doctors,” said Golodets. Before his return to the Kremlin last year, Putin promised to double salaries for teachers and doctors by 2018, to increase maternity benefits and to open more kindergartens. Financing for these priority programmes is being increased, notwithstanding a recent economy drive forced by slowing economic growth and tight government finances. “I’m satisfied, because all the key obligations (spending)are fulfilled in their entirety,” said Golodets, after the cabinet last week signed off on savings in its three-year fiscal plan. LABOUR SHORTAGE For many years, Russia’s deep-seated demographic problems appeared to impinge little on its once fast-growing economy. But with a slowdown coinciding with record low unemployment, the shrinking labour force has emerged as a pressing economic and social problem. “We are now suffering from a severe labour shortage,” Golodets said. Due to a record low birth rate at the start of the 1990s, when the Soviet Union’s collapsed, the number of new entrants to the workforce is at a two-decade low. To help address the labour shortages, Russia has earmarked 45 billion roubles ($1.4 billion) over three years to encourage employers to take on workers in depressed regions, young people and the disabled, including funds for training, she said. Golodets said the government is cracking down on widespread employment of illegal immigrants in casual work such as on building sites, saying labour productivity in Russia could rise by 70 percent if such jobs were made legitimate. She defended the government’s decision not to raise the retirement age – 60 for men and 55 for women – that many economists have criticised as a populist step that exacerbates the impact of the demographic crunch. “Our pension reform very strongly encourages people to work beyond the retirement age,” she said, citing the successful example of countries such as Sweden.

experts to Syria for the investigation of other episodes have borne fruit,” he said. Also on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises from buildings due to heavy artillery shelling in Barzeh, a district of Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) In this frame grab from video taken Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, and provided by “CBS This Morning,” Syrian President Bashar Assad responds to a question from journalist Charlie Rose during an interview in Damascus, Syria. Assad warned in the interview broadcast Monday on CBS there will be retaliation against the U.S. for any military strike launched in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack. Assad said, “You should expect everything.” (AP Photo/CBS This Morning) Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem speaks to the media after his talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, unseen, in Moscow on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) Italian journalist Domenico Quirico (C), who was both kidnapped in Syria in early April, answers to journalists after disembark from the airplane on September 9, 2013 at Ciampino military airport in Rome. (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images) In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA) This Saturday, Sept.