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Titov proposed to Putin to expand the influx of migrants from Southeast Asia | September 27, 2023

Source: Reuters

Business Ombudsman Boris Titov proposed to President Vladimir Putin to simplify the labor migration mechanism for citizens of so-called visa countries (those that require a pre-issued visa to enter Russia), Titov’s office told RBC.

First of all, according to the Ombudsman, we are talking about the countries of Southeast Asia.

The countries of Southeast Asia include 11 states, including: Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, Brunei, East Timor, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The region is home to 655 million people, or about 8% of the world’s total population.

“The growing economy is facing unprecedented levels of talent shortages, which have reached the highest levels on record. Since it is no longer possible to satisfy the need for labor resources at the expense of CIS citizens, one of the ways to saturate the market, in our opinion, may be the expanded attraction of foreign labor from countries with a visa regime for entry (now they account for about 4.49% of all labor migrants),” says Titov’s letter to the president (available from RBC).

In particular, the business ombudsman proposed not to take into account citizens of visa countries when determining the quota for foreign labor in a particular industry. Instead, in his opinion, it is necessary to use a mechanism for determining and agreeing between the employer and the state on the impossibility of filling specific vacancies with Russian workers – the so-called labor market test, which is used for non-quota professions.

Also among Titov’s proposals:

  • For workers from visa countries arriving in Russia for a period of less than a year (and claiming a salary level no higher than the national average), a work permit can be replaced by the issuance of a patent, by analogy with the so-called visa-free countries – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Azerbaijan.
  • For them, it is necessary to establish a requirement for a medical examination and fingerprint registration within 30 days of arrival in Russia and to cancel the requirement to pass an exam in the Russian language, history, and fundamentals of law (by analogy with citizens of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Community).
  • Transfer the issuance of visas for groups of labor migrants, at the request of the employer, online (with filling out information both in Russian and in other languages).

“In the personnel sector, we need effective measures. Today there is a lot of talk about protecting national identity, against this background there are proposals, on the contrary, to tighten the entry regime for our closest neighbors and so on. But for all the merits of such steps in the cultural sense, they remain absolutely unrealistic if you look at them with the sober eye of an economist. The labor shortage is already recognized as the main obstacle to decision-making in monetary policy, and if we do not solve this problem, the economy will come to a standstill,” Titov said.

According to the Business Ombudsman, almost 54% of entrepreneurs surveyed by the Institute for Economics of Growth named after A. P. A. Stolypin.

The population of Russia has been declining since 2018; in 2022 it fell by 533 thousand people and as of January 1, 2023 it amounted to 146.45 million people, Rosstat reported. At the same time, migration growth last year decreased by an order of magnitude, amounting to 61.9 thousand people, or 0.4 per thousand permanent population (in 2021 there was almost 430 thousand migration growth). The figure for 2022 was adjusted by the statistical service taking into account the results of the 2020 All-Russian Population Census.

The migration increase in 2022 compensated for the natural population decline (minus 594.6 thousand people) by only 10.4%, wrote Ekaterina Shcherbakova, senior researcher at the HSE Institute of Demography. At the same time, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin stated that the labor shortage in the construction industry by 2030 against the backdrop of economic growth could reach 400 thousand people.

The problem of labor shortages in Russia has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many companies, including those in the construction industry, faced an acute shortage of labor, most of whom were visitors from Central Asia. But due to Covid restrictions, many were forced to leave the country and were unable to return. The current weakening of the ruble may further reduce the attractiveness of the Russian market for migrant construction workers, NOSTROY admitted.

President Vladimir Putin said in mid-September that the interests of Russians are more important than the migration influx and that first of all we need to think about them. “It is very important that there is no irritation from this migration influx, and this is the most important thing – first of all, of course, we must think about the interests of the citizens of the Russian Federation,” Putin said, noting that if the influx of migrants is necessary, then it is necessary select those who are required for the development of the country’s economy.

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