Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, Presidential Aide Elvira Nabiullina, Presidential Aide Andrei Fursenko, Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov, Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova, Labour and Social Protection Minister Maxim Topilin, Acting Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin, Director of the Federal Service for National Statistics Alexander Surinov, Chief of the Presidential Experts’ Directorate Ksenia Yudayeva, and First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank Alexei Ulyukayev.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues.
We are continuing our series of meetings on economic issues. Today, we will discuss measures to stimulate growth and business and investment activity.
Let me start with a few remarks. The latest figures show that macroeconomic trends in the global economy and in the Russian economy are still cause for concern. The overall global situation is still uncertain in many respects. Russia’s economic growth rate is also low now, despite speeding up a little compared to the first quarter of 2013.
The current forecast for GDP growth this year in Russia is 2.4 percent. This is better than in Europe, and even slightly better than in the USA, but it is lower than the target figures we need for achieving sustained development and resolving our social and other problems, and it is also lower than the IMF’s global growth forecast of 3.3 percent. Russia’s economy has to grow faster than the global economy if we want to close the gap with the world’s economic leaders.
The situation calls for effective action and a fundamental increase in the quality of our work. Instructions on a number of key areas were given at the previous meetings. They concerned above all using pension savings and money from the National Welfare Fund as a source of the long money required to finance major, profitable infrastructure projects and lay the foundations for future growth.
We need transparent selection criteria for these projects and objective evaluation of their future prospects. We simply cannot allow the financing of projects that are clearly unprofitable and unfeasible from the outset. We have been discussing this issue for quite some time now. I ask you to report on the concrete proposals in this area today.
At the same time, we realise that skilful management of state resources alone is not enough to resolve all of the problems and issues we face.
I met recently, on the Day of Russian Entrepreneurship, with Russian businesspeople, and many of them said that natural monopolies’ high prices are putting a big brake on business activity in our country.
Business cannot keep up with the rising costs of resources and services. Russian-made goods become less competitive as a result, and this creates obvious risks for the whole of our economy.
I want to hear from you today on possible solutions regarding these rising prices, and about how these proposals take into account overall economic demands and also the infrastructure monopolies’ investment plans. It is very important to find balanced solutions in this area.
Another important issue that I want to hear from you about today is how provision of loan guarantees for medium-sized manufacturing businesses is being organised. This was an issue outlined in the May executive orders. The adequate budget funds – 20 billion rubles [$625 million] – have already been earmarked for this year, but the actual procedures involved for getting the guarantees are still drawing complaints from business. We have already discussed this matter and have to work fast to iron out the problems and make the relevant decisions.
Let’s get to work.