The meeting participants discussed, among other things, the progress made in putting together the regional investment climate rating, measures to improve business climate in Russia, a number of initiatives in the social sphere, and organising legal awareness for small and medium-sized businesses in Crimea following the peninsula’s accession to the Russian Federation.
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Speech at meeting of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Supervisory Board
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We have a very busy agenda today: we will touch upon both traditional issues of improving the business climate and certain specific matters.
I would like to begin by saying that the Agency has been operating for thee years now, you have gained some good positive experience and have a number of achievements I believe you can be proud of. This is not something extraordinary, but these are achievements, and it is something to be happy about. This means setting up this Agency was not a waste, and neither is your work. It is largely through the efforts of the Agency that many administrative barriers are being removed, business procedures are being simplified and methods of training skilled staff are being revised.
Within the framework of the national business initiative, we have managed to update the legal base. Now it is of primary importance that we maintain high-quality application of legislation. As we all know, and as I have said on numerous occasions, only a small group of people are involved in writing laws, while millions are working on ways to evade them. Therefore, we need to weigh our every step, every word, and every comma.
I would like to note here that it is the businessmen themselves who should assess how comfortable it is for them to operate in every given region and in every given case, including in conditions of changing normative and legal base.
As for the regions, I would like to say that it is because we have recently started focusing on this component that we need to make sure we launch the national rating of the investment climate in various regions of the Russian Federation. A rating committee was set up at the congress of RSPP [Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs] three weeks ago. The Agency is on this committee along with the nation’s leading business associations. The committee will collect data on every region.
I would like to reiterate that our goal is definitely not to punish anyone anywhere, but to train regional teams in the best practice of working with investors. I would like to hear reports today on what is being done, when you expect the first results and what your expectations are in the near term.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we need to improve the business climate as soon as possible. We consider this our top priority. This should be done quickly. I am referring here to a further reduction of the administrative burden on business, the creation of favourable conditions for opening and establishing new enterprises – in other words, the business environment should become a powerful factor of economic and industrial growth.
Another important area of the Agency’s activity is support of social initiatives. Today we will talk about the creation of a charity foundation for the deaf and blind. These people are seriously impaired and we should take their problems seriously. I expect the foundation to organise such work through joining the efforts of volunteers, religious groups, non-profit organisations, experts and scientists, all the more so that there is positive experience of successfully integrating the deaf and blind into society, into public life. We need to develop corresponding technologies, research and education methods to make them accessible to all those who need them.
We will also touch upon other projects, including those dealing with the development of telecommunication equipment production. We will see how support to individual companies can lead to comprehensive solutions for medium-sized businesses operating in this area.
We will also consider holding a national professional contest in high-tech industries and discuss the results of joint efforts of the Agency, our leading universities and major companies to create the Atlas on New Professions for the industry and the economy as a whole.
There is another important issue that technically is not on our agenda, but that we need to touch upon: in the course of the national business initiative, we have managed to create a close and, more importantly, equal partnership between the authorities and business. This makes it possible to achieve specific results quickly, without bureaucratic red tape.
I expect that the Government, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, our business associations and the new Ministry for Crimean Affairs will all continue to work together just as efficiently to support small and medium-sized businesses in the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation: Crimea and Sevastopol.
There are quite a few problems here. Entrepreneurs fear that re-registration and licensing can become complicated and slow. Interaction with partners and suppliers from other Russian regions has not yet been refined. There are other complex issues as well.
However, these are all technical issues that can be overcome. I am only asking you to bear this in mind and to help people. Certain steps have been taken in this direction by the customs and tax services, the Finance Ministry and other agencies.
I would like to stress here that we need to be flexible and avoid routine, box-checking approaches. We have to take into account the specificity of these territories, their legal experience, and also we need to create favourable business environment using the best regional practices we have in Russia. At the same time, we should broadly inform our citizens and businesspeople of the decisions we make and take into account the views of the business community of the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation.
Another important issue is that small and medium-sized businesses in Crimea and Sevastopol will find it difficult at first to work out all the intricacies of Russian legislation. We need to help our colleagues, organise legal awareness and introduce them to property and business registration procedures, accounting requirements, and tax and customs regulations. This job is not only for our ministries and agencies – business and professional associations can be of great help here.
I would like us all to clearly understand that all the processes underway should open up new opportunities for honest and responsible people who will be running their businesses in Crimea and Sevastopol to create new jobs, develop tourism and services, agriculture and other traditional areas of activity in these constituent entities.
I would like the Agency for Strategic Initiatives to launch the necessary work to assist entrepreneurs in Crimea and Sevastopol; and in the short term, I expect you to analyse the work done and report on the results.
Let us get down to our agenda.