President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues and friends.
Let me start by congratulating everyone at the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service on 25 years since a special anti-monopoly agency was first set up in Russia. This was the start of what is today the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.
FAS thus dates from the same time as the far-reaching transformations that established market relations and entrepreneurship in Russia. Over these 25 years, you have done much to develop the legal base and introduce modern competition mechanisms.
I hope that FAS will continue to play an important and substantive role in carrying out our country’s economic policy and forming a favourable climate for business and investment and for entrepreneurial activity in general. I say this all the more that your powers were expanded substantially just recently and you are now responsible for issues related to tariff regulation in many areas too. I signed an executive order on this on July 21, 2015.
Much indeed depends on your competent and professional work and the decisions you make. Healthy competition and entrepreneurial freedom are crucial factors for developing our country and ensuring our national economy’s effective and sustainable growth.
FAS dates from the same time as the far-reaching transformations that established market relations in Russia. Over these 25 years, you have done much to develop the legal base and introduce modern competition mechanisms.
Monopolism in all its forms chokes private initiative and acts as a brake on progress. The Russian industrialists of the past, who built up Russia’s economic might, understood this well. “We need general competition because it is the road to improvement… Factories with excessive protection will use their profits any way they please and neglect the effort to improve their own goods” – thus spoke Nikolai Putilov, one of the founders of Russia’s railways, steel and shipbuilding industries.
Our task today is for Russia’s companies and businesses to learn to produce better goods and services than any of their competitors. We realise that this is not a simple task, but we know too that the main incentive here is competition on our own domestic market. This competition must be open and follow clear and transparent rules.
We therefore need to continue creating opportunities for all who seek to win in a fair competitive fight, advance, work hard, find new solutions, and raise the quality of their own goods. The more such people we have in our country, the stronger Russia and its economy will be.
We have been working hard to improve the anti-monopoly legislation over the last several years. This work has been undertaken in cooperation with FAS, of course, and the entire business community and the Strategic Initiatives Agency. With the help of everyone working through these platforms, we have drawn up and approved a roadmap that sets out concrete measures for developing competition in various economic sectors.
Many decisions are already being implemented. Wider use is being made of market tenders now, and rules for non-discriminatory access to the infrastructure of several natural monopolies have been improved. We know, of course, that there is still much work to do, and I stress in this respect that laws and rules the roadmap envisions must be given practical application everywhere throughout the regions. We must make a special effort to develop competition in the regions and municipalities. I am not just talking about putting an end to individual abuses by monopolists and decisions that hinder free trade, but about the need for a general systemic improvement of the business environment.
Colleagues, economic competition has an important general human, social and state dimension. What is a competitive market after all? It is a market in which consumers and buyers can choose products and services of higher quality and, most important, at a fair price.
In this respect, I ask you to continue your active efforts to develop competition in areas particularly important to the public, such as housing and utilities, heating supply, electricity and passenger transport, and keep effective watch on the markets for foodstuffs and medicines. You must exclude the possibility of unjustified tariff decisions and prevent prices from rising. Of course, you need to pay particular attention to developing competition in the social sector.
I ask you to continue your active efforts to develop competition in areas particularly important to the public, to keep effective watch on the markets for foodstuffs and medicines.
Friends, colleagues, economists have been discussing for decades how to ensure a perfect competitive environment, where to let the ‘invisible hand’ do its work, and where the state should be present, including through the watchdog and regulatory functions that are also necessary. This truly is a field that calls for utmost professionalism. I believe that any decision in this area should take into account the country’s interests, the interests of honest business and citizens. I ask you to carry out your work on these principles.
Let me congratulate you all once more on your fruitful and effective work. I know your efforts are effective because I see how prices come down and we save state money and resources following your intervention in this or that case.
I wish you success and thank you once again for your work. Congratulations on this anniversary.