President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Repik, good afternoon,
Head of Delovaya Rossiya Alexei Repik: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Repik, first, I would like to congratulate you on your re-election as Chairman of the Delovaya Rossiya Association. This important association unites our businesspeople working in diverse industries but having the same interests.
But no matter what industry they work in, there is one issue – we discussed it with your colleagues in February – that is always topical and important, especially today. I am referring to investment activity. Shall we start with that?
Alexei Repik: Yes.
Mr President, thank you very much for your congratulations. I am very grateful for your attention.
Indeed, ten months have passed since our forum, our last meeting. Much has changed since then. We have faced very serious challenges related to global turbulence. A host of external factors that came as a complete surprise affected our activities. A number of foreign invested companies have left, but for us, for Delovaya Rossiya this meant new opportunities, new niches.
Our companies and businesspeople got a real opportunity to take a befitting place in our big, attractive market. Those who grabbed this opportunity, who listened to what you repeatedly said: “It’s safer at home,” who placed their bets on their own strength, their own business initiative, they are now creating a team for a new Russian economy, producing competitive products and developing exports. I consider this very important and very efficient.
The start of the year was, frankly, difficult. You will remember that we faced a drop in the ruble to 120 rubles per dollar, crazy forecasts by analysts about inflation of 20–25–30 percent, an increase in the key rate to 20 percent, and endless sanctions packages…
Vladimir Putin: It is now lower than before the start of the special military operation.
Alexei Repik: Mr President, you took the words out of my mouth. The exchange rate is at about 60; inflation is lower than before the SMO; we have a key interest rate of 7.5 percent; we have found new, reliable partners to replace those who gave up their opportunities in our market. So, in general…
On March 16, you held a very important meeting. What mattered most was that you determined the principles for responding and regulating this crisis – betting on private businesses, avoiding direct price controls, and reliance on domestic businesspeople. All this worked, and you are now talking about the results of it.
By the way, I would like to thank you for the April decision to postpone the insurance payments. It allowed us to replenish our working capital and saturate the domestic market with goods. This is what our consumers badly needed.
What do I want to say? In these circumstances – whether it is sanctions or not – private businesses were the first to adapt to the situation and continued investing. Responding to your query, I must say that the investment track is the most important for us, and not only at the federal level where this work is conducted with the Government of the Russian Federation, with you and your colleagues in the Executive Office, but also at the regional level. It is important to continue this work.
We have been dealing with this new track of regional investment standards for the whole year. We have been working on this track with the Government. We have already introduced standards in 45 regions – first in 12 pilot regions, and then in another 33 regions. I believe at this point it is necessary to encourage the regions to be more active on this track. I will take the liberty to ask you to hold a special meeting on this issue – it is necessary for the regional governors to continue prioritising this.
In general, it is important for us to use every opportunity for investment in 2023. We appreciate very much the efficient work of the Industrial Development Fund. We hope it will broaden access to its tools for larger projects.
The cluster investment platform, from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, is a very important initiative that we rely on now. We believe it will certainly work and will be very helpful to us.
To continue this theme, Mr President, I would like to say that investment is generally a key factor in ensuring technological sovereignty and economic growth. Delovaya Rossiya companies understand this very well. We looked it up – since February, Delovaya Rossiya and our companies have been carrying out over a hundred big projects.
I will allow myself to cite some examples to illustrate this. In the Tver Region, Akvarius launched a plant to produce servers – data storage systems – over five billion in investment.
Novostal-M – you remember, their president spoke at our forum – has invested over 58 billion in the construction of a rail-and-structural steel mill in the Saratov Region.
Allegro was the first company. It’s a funny story. It’s not just about a big project on railway wheel rolling in the Titanium Valley in Salda. You may recall when we met in the Moscow House of Music and you urged businesses to act enthusiastically and cheerfully – in an allegro tempo. Our guys took your idea and the project got underway. It got its name with your light hand and will be launched in 2023.
Vladimir Putin: They built it in the open field, right?
Alexei Repik: Yes, in the open field.
Vladimir Putin: Well done. A good job.
Alexei Repik: But since we brought up Delovaya Rossiya forums, I would like to thank you again for attending the one in early February.
This was a difficult time. We still had the pandemic restrictions and a certain surge in the disease rate at the beginning of the year. This is why we used a hybrid format the first time. But it turned out that this format was the best – over a thousand businesspeople from different regions took part.
Following the discussion, there were instructions that you mentioned at the beginning of our meeting. Many of them are already being implemented including benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises for connecting to the power grid. Online medical prescriptions have finally started, but still as a pilot project in Moscow and in the Moscow and Belgorod regions.
Our cooperation with Rosprirodnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources) has gone well. Do you remember we said that it was important for businesses starting a major project to know the regulator’s position on whether it meets environmental requirements? Now Rosprirodnadzor has started this work proactively, under the supervision of Svetlana Radionova. Eight pilot agreements have been signed. In the beginning of this month, literally on December 1, the Government endorsed the provision on the pilot scheme.
In short, a lot has become reality.
This is why, Mr President, the hybrid format that seemed surprising at one time, eventually proved to be very efficient. Businesses like it, especially in the regions.
So, I would like to ask you to coordinate the next forum in this format, in the hybrid format. We want to involve every region, including the remote ones, in our work. Naturally, I would like to invite you to this forum.
We have already drafted the preliminary agenda. It includes a list of important issues. Like last time, to make the forum more efficient, I would like to ask you to instruct the government bodies to study these proposals. We will be able to make specific decisions based on this.
Vladimir Putin: All right, thank you very much.
We will fix the date later.
Alexei Repik: Of course.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.