Putin focuses on social issues in state-of-the-nation speech

Posted at 4:37 AM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 04:37:29-05

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin says in a state-of-the-nation address that Russia needs to focus on raising living standards.

Speaking on Wednesday before lawmakers and top officials, Putin said the government will increase social payments to support young families. He promised tax breaks, lower mortgage rates and housing subsidies for families with several children.

He said that the tax burden on developers will be eased to encourage them to expand housing construction.

Putin also emphasized the need to combat poverty, saying that 19 million of Russia's approximately 147 million people live below the official poverty line, currently the equivalent of around 160 dollars a month.