MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin is promising to boost spending on social programs as part of the government’s modernization efforts.

Speaking in an annual live call-in show Thursday, Putin faced an array of complaints about low wages and pensions. Putin responded by spelling out plans to boost salaries for public sector workers.

More than 1.5 million people have sent their questions by phone, video calls or internet.

For the people across the vast country, the tightly-choreographed show provides a rare opportunity to take their grievances to the very top. The call-in is dominated by complaints about low wages, potholed roads, decrepit schools, overfilled hospitals and other social issues.

Putin noted that Russia has been hurt by a drop in energy prices and international sanctions, but added that the economy has improved.