President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon,
Today we will review the current situation in the Russian economy, look at the results of 2019 and analyse the first trends of 2020.
I would like to emphasise right from the start that our main common task is to achieve more stable, high-quality and sustainable economic growth, also taking into account external challenges and risks. We know about them, they are not limited to healthcare, but, unfortunately, there are economic factors as well.
I will now say something obvious, but still very important, even fundamental. A high rate of economic growth is the basic condition for successful social development, for new jobs, higher real household incomes, and consequently, for positive demographic changes, something Russia needs so much.
What do the latest statistics suggest? According to estimates, last year, Russia’s GDP growth was 1.3 percent, while in the fourth quarter, it accelerated to 2.3 percent.
The industrial production index, a key indicator, was also in the black at 2.4 percent last year; agricultural production added 4 percent, and retail is on the rise.
Inflation decreased to 3 percent in 2019, and now the annual inflation rate is 2.4 percent. Unemployment is at a stable low level – an average of 4.6 percent last year.
The accumulated reserves guarantee a proper safety margin for the Russian economy, its financial system. The National Welfare Fund exceeds $125 billion, with international reserves standing at $560 billion.
All these factors ensure our macroeconomic stability and reduce the national economy’s sensitivity to changes in the global environment.
As I said in my Address to the Federal Assembly, all this is extremely important. Sustainability, including that of the budget system, must, of course, be maintained. However – we have already spoken about this many times – this is not enough, and we need to build on this foundation to ensure further development, growth at the pace necessary for our economy.
In this regard, the main priority on our economic agenda is to launch a new investment cycle, to achieve annual investment growth of at least 5, and preferably 5–7 percent, so that next year economic growth rates will exceed global ones. I look forward to the joint partner work of the Government of the Russian Federation and the Bank of Russia.
In simple terms, each degree of investment growth means new jobs, modernised jobs, additional demand for qualified well-paid professionals, not only in big cities, but everywhere across the country. Today I would like to hear your thoughts on several matters.
First of all, what do we plan to do in the near future to improve the business and investment climate? We talk about this a lot. This has been on the agenda of our work in recent years, but these tasks need to be updated at every given moment, also through adopting the new legislation discussed in the Address.
Secondly, how is the Government planning to build its work with the regions in terms of attracting investment and creating sites for new productions and capacities, as well as the construction of facilities planned under national projects?
And finally, I would like to highlight this: all the declared social and investment plans must be fully funded.
There is nothing new here either. I would just like to hear your ideas on how we will get started with this work, where our starting point is and at what pace we will be achieving our goals.
Let’s get started.