* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Your organisation’s congress has just finished and I know that it was a milestone event since it marked the 10th anniversary of OPORA RUSSIA. You have elected a new president, Alexander Brechalov. I want to congratulate you and to thank the outgoing head [Sergei Borisov] for our joint efforts.
Mr Borisov and I used to hold regular meetings, we met on many occasions and our discussions were highly beneficial because many of the issues Mr Borisov raised were acute and business, including small and medium business, considered these issues highly relevant. In fact, Mr Borisov did not just bring problems to our attention but he usually also proposed ways to resolve them. I am sure he also consulted with you and discussed all these matters.
Recently, a very constructive dialogue has developed between the Government and the business community, particularly through business associations, including your organisation.
I would like to note that the number of SMEs in Russia has been growing, although it is still below what we would like to see. In countries with developed market economies the SMEs’contribution to national GDP is much higher than in Russia. Our figure is around 21–22%, whereas in the United States is it 50% and it is even higher in other countries, for example in China it is over 60% and even more in Indonesia. A whole number of developed and developing economies are ahead of Russia in this sphere.
Clearly, we must move forward in that direction. I know that your congress discussed a number of pressing and important current issues.
I want to congratulate you on your 10th anniversary and the election of a new leader and propose that we avoid long monologues today and talk about the issues that you care about and exchange opinions.
I am happy to listen to you, as are my colleagues in the Government and the Presidential Executive Office — we are at your disposal. Go ahead, please.