Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina reported on the results of the country's industrial development in the first quarter of 2008. She noted that despite slowing economic growth in many countries, the Russian economy is developing fairly steadily. In comparison with 2007, in March GDP grew by 7,8 per cent and by 8 per cent during the first quarter of 2008.
Economic growth during the first quarter is attributable to investments and consumer demand. Fixed investment grew by 20.2 per cent and retail trade by 16.7 per cent.
According to the Minister, the manufacturing sectors of Russian industry grew by 10.4 per cent. Production of machinery and related parts increased by 16.4 per cent whereas production of various means of transportation and the corresponding equipment grew by 14.4 per cent.
In answer to a question from the President, Elvira Nabiullina confirmed that the reduction of import duties on technological equipment has had visible results.
In the first quarter such equipment amounted to more than 50 per cent of the total (this figure was 46.9 per cent in 2007). This demonstrates that Russia's economy is undergoing technological upgrading.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin reported on the record growth of regional budgets whose national average was 37 per cent when compared with the first quarter of last year.
The head of state recalled that at a previous meeting on economic issues cabinet members had discussed the development of the banking sector and measures to support the liquidity of Russian banks in light of the crisis in world financial markets. According to Minister Kudrin, thanks to the actions of the Cabinet and support of the Central Bank there currently is no shortage of liquidity in Russia. In the last two weeks capital inflows have increased and gold and currency reserves have as well.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin talked about the forthcoming first meeting of a governmental commission on the development of the fisheries industry. Among other issues the new commission will discuss the procedure for registering fishing vessels that enter Russian ports. In particular, a rigid standard for registering such ships within a three-hour time limit will be introduced. The new regime should encourage relevant Russian businesses in the field.