Upper house chair urges unified ‘wellbeing standard’ across Russia

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko © Evgeny Biyatov
The head of Russia’s Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko holds that lawmakers should introduce unified standard of wellbeing or quality of life that is guaranteed to people all over Russia.

Today we register serious disproportions in the living standards of our citizens and the quality of life in various regions of the country. This concerns incomes, availability of education and healthcare, the general situation of the job market. I think we must develop a unified standard of quality of life, or you can describe it as a standard of citizens’ wellbeing and introduce guaranteed basic level of this parameter on the whole territory of our country,” Matviyenko said on Friday as she talked to the Council of Lawmakers in St. Petersburg.

READ MORE: Top Russian senator proposes ‘Ministry of Happiness’ to improve life

She added that members of parliament must take this factor in consideration while developing the new concept of budget relations, currently under work in the Federation Council. 

The Friday proposal echoes the statement made by Matviyenko earlier this month after her visit to Abu Dhabi. Then, the speaker urged Russians to use the experience of this Arab nation and to set up a separate ministry that would evaluate any government initiative by the amount of happiness it brings to the general public.

The ultimate objective of this is to make every person happy, build happy schools and provide such services to the population that makes everyone happy. The ministry is some sort of an overarching agency that studies each and every decision from the perspective of its potential to make people happy,” Interfax quoted her as saying.

In January, Russia's Deputy Economic Development Minister Oleg Fomichev told the press that the government planned to reduce the budget funding on social programs, as part of the general austerity measures, but added that no programs would be shut down.

"Such programs are a very important part of state activity. Cuts in spending are certainly possible, but complete termination of programs is out of the question,” he said.

READ MORE: Russia to cut social spending in 2016

Also in January, Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev assured reporters that the government will fulfill its social obligations.

"I believe the economic situation will be stable. This means the government will honor its social obligations, including salaries and pensions,” he said at a major economic forum.