President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, colleagues,
Our end-of-year meeting is becoming a tradition, and this year, I suppose the meeting is particularly necessary. I am referring to external circumstances, circumstances in the global markets, primarily commodities, oil and gas markets, which affect our economy significantly. I am also referring to the situation in our economy and finances, and the state of the national currency.
You know that in recent years, we have not made any significant decisions that affect the state of the Russian economy in some way without first consulting the business community. I hope that we will stick to this approach in the future.
Given the specific nature of today’s situation, I have asked representatives from the Presidential Executive Office dealing with economic issues to attend today’s meeting, along with the Deputy Prime Minister and Central Bank Chairperson. If needed, we are at your disposal to discuss current matters of mutual interest.
Overall, in my Address [to the Federal Assembly] I explained what the Government will be doing and repeated some parts in yesterday’s major end-of-year news conference. It is clear that we are facing difficult challenges and we may have to pass through a difficult phase in our development. It is also clear that we can get through it, and even, as we often say, take advantage of the situation to resolve the main challenge our economy has been facing for the past 15–20 years – the challenge of economic diversification.
In these circumstances, it is absolutely clear that new niches must appear, which will be profitable for investing available resources. In order to invest in them, we first of all need to have them, and we need to be certain that the government will help. Strictly speaking, the main purpose of these meetings is for all of us to feel the support of the other, for the government to feel the support of businesses and your teams. You have a large number of people behind you and you have an enormous responsibility for their wellbeing, the wellbeing of your workforces, their lives, the level of their wages, and the resolution of many social issues. But the government, of course, must also feel you and your concerns. We intend to continue working closely together, as we have done in recent years.
There were certain new ideas proposed in the Address. For example, the now well-known proposal to introduce amnesty for capitals. If needed, we can discuss this aspect as well.
Overall, I expect that we will have an absolutely free, informal, but business-oriented discussion today.
I am happy to welcome you. Thank you very much for your attention.