President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. It is a great pleasure to greet you all with the New Year holidays just around the corner. I wish you all success, prosperity for your companies, and all the very best to your staff, the management and the ordinary employees.
We (by ‘we’, I mean the Presidential Executive Office and the Government) are in constant contact with you. The Government and the Presidential Executive Office do not simply share their plans regarding decisions under preparation, but in many cases, prepare these decisions together with you.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which has done a lot over these last 25 years to support dialogue between the authorities [and the business community] at the federal and regional levels, and, as I said, to help prepare conceptual decisions for developing our economy.
We all give a lot of attention to improving the business climate. I want to thank you for the proposals you have drafted, and which have contributed to the final decisions. As we know, these are not decisions without substance, but are steps that have brought about noticeable changes for the better.
I am not talking about ratings now. Ratings are not the issue. The issue is for our business to work in a more comfortable environment so that the overall result will be better than what we have seen so far. We see that despite the unfavourable situation on the global markets and in the political sphere, we have indeed seen changes for the better. We have succeeded in stabilising the situation in the economy. This is a clear and evident fact today. We need now to set in place a strategy for confident growth, and this is something we can achieve together.
Of course, there are still many outstanding problems and many reasons for dissatisfaction. There is still much to change and improve in order to feel more confident. But at least we all agree what we need to do, how we need to do it, and what timeframe is realistic.
As I address to you my holiday wishes and congratulations, I hope very much that we will continue working together in just this same fashion.
Please, Mr Shokhin.
Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs President Alexander Shokhin: Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, the 25th anniversary Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs took place. We not only, and not so much reviewed the results of 25 years of activity, as formulated guidelines for future activity. During the congress we took a poll on what directions for improving the business climate are the most significant in the medium term.
We divided our poll into two blocks. In the block related to enhancing the effectiveness of the management system, priority is clearly given to expanding the sphere of assessing regulatory impacts. Forty four percent were in favour of enhancing its effectiveness. The idea is that draft laws submitted to the State Duma for a second reading also undergo this public procedure. We also considered the possibility of including into the assessment of the regulatory impact elements of the business climate that are currently excluded from this mechanism, primarily the tax system. We are building an effective dialogue on the tax system, but it is the result of the Government’s good intentions, rather than the result of some formal procedure.
The second and third positions are the review of oversight-control activity and improving the regulation of natural monopolies. Regarding oversight and control, we hope that within the framework of a strategic priority project, we will be able to work actively with the Government. Right now business has already become involved in this work through the Public Business Council.
Within the block related to eliminating impediments to the development of production activity, economic activity, we have identified an obvious priority: reducing the fiscal burden on business. Even though our basic principle today is a moratorium on increasing the fiscal burden, nevertheless, the business community expects in 2017–2018, as part of your directive, clarification of the parameters of the tax system to ensure its stability. Next years, we also expect to achieve a certain reduction in the fiscal burden, including not only taxes but also so-called non-tax public payments.
The business community is also concerned over access to funding. Today we discussed this issue with Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiulliuna. We trust the assessment of the Central Bank on the reduction of pro-inflation risks next year. We hope the Central Bank will decrease its key interest, which will be followed by a reduction of loan interest rates.
But credit resources are not the only problem. It is necessary to develop the instruments of the financial market. Thus, we hope that, as part of the implementation of your instruction that follows from your address to the Federal Assembly, there will be more mechanisms of access for medium-range dynamic companies to such loans as bonds. If the bonds of medium-range dynamic companies are included into the Central Bank’s Lombard List, this is bound to help them develop quickly. This will also help them with their IPO. The Moscow Stock Exchange is working on such issues with the Central Bank as a regulator.
We also revealed the need to develop a system of professional qualifications as a priority. The National Council on Professional Qualifications, which you established two and a half years ago, summed up the results of its performance just ten days ago. We are now approaching the mass-scale use of independent assessment of qualifications. Let’s hope this will help bridge the gap between the level of training of specialists and the demand of the labour market.
I must mention such a priority as exports of products with high added value. Needless to say, it is important to join global chains of added value and also to form added value chains in the Russian Federation.
We hope these areas will be covered by the Government’s Plan of Action for 2017–2025. We will also work on the plan of action that will allow us to surpass average global economic growth rates in 2019–2020.
Four leading business associations – the RUIE, the CCI, Delovaya Rossiya and Opora – have already agreed to work together. We will prepare proposals in a roadmap format. Today, as we addressed the issue at our congress with First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, we agreed that neither will we expect proposals from the Government, nor will the Government expect proposals from us, but that we will work together to develop this roadmap.
The areas on which we are ready to submit proposals are certainly broader than the problems and direction that I have identified. I believe my colleagues will talk about these areas today.
This brings me to the end of my opening remarks. I would like once again to thank you for your high evaluation of the RUIE’s activity and for the appreciation that you have expressed for our organisation in your directive.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
There are a lot of issues that we are addressing together. We discuss tax policy, personnel training and the development of small and medium-sized businesses.
Let us now talk about export support and the implementation of the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union. Incidentally, this is a separate topic, for which I would like to thank many of you, considering that many of you or your experts have participated in working out particular decisions. This especially applies to our joint work on the Customs Code. This is an extremely important and sensitive area, in terms of practical activity, practical application. We have worked quite effectively with you here.
Please, Mr Mordashov.
Severstal Board of Directors Chairman Alexei Mordashov: Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for recognising the importance of the Customs Union for all of us. And thank you for your evaluation of our participation in this matter.
As we know, in a week, a full stop is expected to be put on this years-long work. And you, Mr President, together with your colleagues – the EAEU heads of state – will sign a new code that will go into effect. This important document should establish a legal framework for regulating the foreign economic activity, foreign trade, of the EAEU member countries, and our bilateral trade.
At the same time, it seems to us that because of the cooperation that has evolved in the course of drafting the code between representatives of the Government and business representatives, as you have just said, on the whole, we have ensured that the code reflects the best foreign economic activity and customs administration practices that exist in the world. The code contains a number of important principles, such as the creation of a “one stop shop” system, the possibility of paying customs duties after clearance, issues related to the transit of goods, refunding excess payments, free customs zones and so on.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the entire Government, the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Customs Service, for this cooperation. I would also like to ask you not to reduce the level of your cooperation, because we have a lot of work to do on reflecting the Code’s provisions in Russian law and several hundred acts of delegated legislation.
First, the Code itself contains many reference norms that resulted from a compromise between different interests. This means that these reference norms, of which there are about 300, must be formalised. We believe this work will give us, the Russian Federation, a favourable economic regime for foreign trade.
Today, in his opening remarks, Mr Shokhin spoke about the importance of including Russian business and the Russian economy into international labour division chains. Speaking at our meeting today, Igor Shuvalov said we are hearing increasingly more positive assessments of the development of the business climate in Russia. But at the same time, we are continuously hearing from our entrepreneurs that it would be good if customs procedures were simplified. In this context it would be useful to continue the practice of their close coordination with the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Customs Service. We are very grateful both to the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Customs Service for the level of their cooperation with the business community, and would like to ask for your support to continue it.
In addition, there are many important issues, such as the formation of a “one stop shop.” The Russian Federation has not even determined an authorised government body, as the rules of the Federal Customs Service require. Moreover, under the agreement on promoting trade that Russia signed and ratified, we are supposed to fulfil a number of commitments, including the formation of a “one stop shop.”
In general, we are hoping that the work that has been conducted will be continued, that you will support it and that this work will make a good contribution to easing foreign trade, which will create a favourable business climate and economic upsurge in this country.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.