President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Yesterday, a terrible accident occurred in Tatarstan with the Bulgaria cruise ship, killing an enormous number of our people. Before we begin our work, let’s stand and have a moment of silence to honour their memory. (Moment of silence.)
Colleagues, I have called you together to discuss one very important issue: implementing the suggestions and decisions I presented at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. We did not have a chance to talk there because I had a very busy schedule as President’s participation in the forum is nonstop, but a whole range of important suggestions were made, especially since they elaborated on my Magnitogorsk points.
They concern a wide variety of issues: tweaking plans for state participation in major companies which we have represented here today, liability of unscrupulous civil servants, the judicial system improvement which we have repeatedly discussed, and a whole set of other issues on which it is time to share our views.
Speaking with our foreign partners, I’ve seen their positive attitudes to the new approaches we declared some time ago, because everyone understands that the investment climate in our country is far from perfect. They are prepared to invest in our economy, but unfortunately, the real influx of investments is not that high as desired.
Under the Central Bank’s assessment, the 2011 capital outflow may be as high as 35 billion dollars; which is almost as high as in 2010 with its somewhat 40 billion. There are various reasons for this and you are well aware of them, but nevertheless, they include certain unfavourable factors existing in our economy and our laws.
The instructions I issued following the St Petersburg International Economic Forum supplement a list of measures that was announced at the meeting in Magnitogorsk. They are already being implemented and are aimed to improve the performance of investment institutions, and lower business costs. Draft laws have already been prepared and are now being reviewed.
The draft laws are aimed at narrowing the scope of control over strategic foreign investments, which it’s time to do. They also are to grant minority shareholders access to information on companies’ operation. This is a more difficult issue, a special one for the major companies represented here. We are to proceed in this respect so as not to cause any disproportionate disadvantages to the companies themselves, but at the same time, minority shareholders must receive effective access to such information.
Investment commissioners have begun operating in the Federal Districts in line with my instructions. The replacement of high-ranking officials holding key posts on boards of directors at major companies (some of our colleagues from these companies are present) with independent executives is nearly complete. By autumn, this process should be finished at all the corporations under government control.
Certain decisions have been made concerning insurance premiums; perhaps you know about them. They are not as radical as we might want, but at the same time, these are significant decisions for the government, for the budget, and perhaps they can improve the situation overall. In any case, this is as much as we are able to do today, given the current state of our budget and our economy.
We are continuing the declared process of integrating our national financial system into the international one. We must implement the goal that we have set – I am referring to creating a leading international financial centre in Moscow. I am certain this will have a positive overall effect on the entire economy.
We have simplified the regime for circulating Russian securities on international exchanges and must also use privatisation to increase the liquidity of stock exchanges and placements of a significant share of the stocks within the Russian Federation specifically.
Incidentally, concerning privatisation: so far, the Government’s suggestions look very humble, and I believe we must be more decisive. For now, it all comes down to the fact that until 2016 all the [government owned] companies will remain under state control, so I gave instructions to the Government on preparing new suggestions by August 1 to release surplus state property.
Another important topic is that of normal conditions for doing business in Russia, the conditions meeting universally accepted standards, including the issue of entry to and stays within our country by people who would like to invest in our economy. In 2010 and 2011, as you know, a whole set of legislative decisions were made following my direct instructions to simplify the provision of visas to foreign specialists.
Much still remains to be done; this work must be continued, since restrictions are still in place, as foreign colleagues constantly tell me during various meetings. It is unclear who we are closing ourselves off against; in any case, I hope you share the same position. This process must be completed.