The RSPP congress took place within the framework of the Russian Business Week. The discussions focussed on economic issues and improving the business climate.
After the RSPP congress, the President also met with board members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs marks its 25th anniversary this year. Both businesses and society have gone through a rather difficult period on their way toward establishing normal market relations. It is an important achievement that over the years, entrepreneurs were witness to how trust and respect for their hard work only grew, as did the appreciation for economic freedom.
I won’t cite any statistics now, but overall the figures are quite impressive and indicate that society welcomes entrepreneurship as we can see positive trends. Russian business has become more responsible and mature. An increasing number of Russian companies are operating under transparent and more civilised rules, fulfilling their obligations to the state, society, and, most importantly, paying their taxes without fail. Entrepreneurs and tax officials have established proper cooperation based on trust and cooperation.
Risk-oriented models and large-scale implementation of information technology have proved to be worthwhile. Honest or ‘white’ business as we call it is not simply expedient. The sound reputations of a law-abiding taxpayers and entrepreneurs serve as proof of their company’s investment potential and stability.
Business has also become a reliable partner of the state in improving how personnel receive training. We have talked about this a great deal. Our companies are creating their own training centres and investing in the modernisation of vocational schools and are even involved in the establishment of children’s technoparks. They are also actively participating on university supervisory boards.
I would like to note how companies have now taken an interest in organising professional skills contests, which are not only held nationally but also within the companies themselves. Such competitions make it possible to assess the professionalism of workers and engineers and ascertain the most modern and advanced standards.
I would also like to ask you to become more actively involved in the preparation of our national team for the WorldSkills Competition that will take place in Kazan in 2019. I want to add that the development of professional standards is on going within the framework of the Presidential National Council for Professional Qualifications. The system of independent assessment of qualifications is being formulated with your direct involvement. Incidentally, a draft law on the subject is being considered today at a Government meeting – in any case, they planned on reviewing it.
We are also aware of the domestic business community’s keen interest to contribute to the drafting of our economic agenda, to improve the business climate. As a matter of fact, this is what we do together on a regular basis. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs puts forward truly substantive legislative amendments to make the national laws more amenable to business. As a result of the concerted efforts of the government, the RSPP and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, new arbitration laws were adopted. And as I previously said, I count on the active participation of the business community in formulating and establishing an influential lineup of arbitration courts.
I would like to make special mention of your activities in international organisations, particularly your promotion of Russia’s interests in the Business 20 (B20). Incidentally, this year the B20 will again meet on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. We will hold it jointly with our Chinese partners, who now chair the G20.
Friends, during my meeting with Mr Shokhin [President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs] last February, we agreed to create a working group at the Presidential Executive Office that will analyse law enforcement practice in entrepreneurial activity. You must have seen this in the media yesterday – the first meeting took place with the participation of law enforcement agencies and business associations.
You also know the issues that were discussed, but I will risk repeating myself: we discussed the expansion of the grounds for releasing citizens from criminal liability when committing economic crimes.
Second, there will be an increase in the minimal threshold for any damages caused that substantiate the categorising of a crime as large-scale or major-scale fraud. Your colleagues – I think they were from OPORA Russia – raised this issue at one of our meetings.
Third is the issue of affording entrepreneurs greater opportunities to access notary services when they are in custody or under house arrest. A representative of the Prosecutor’s Office said this applies not just to entrepreneurs but also to all citizens. Obviously, this is indeed the case, but this is especially important for the business community.
Fourth, the Criminal Procedure Code needs to specify the exact period during which an exhibit can be accepted as physical evidence in a criminal case as well as the time limit for returning the exhibits not considered as such.
Next, the definition of threshold values related to the damage caused as a result of fraud, depending on who has committed fraud. It would be best if State Duma deputies introduced the necessary amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure codes before the end of the spring session. Of course, our colleagues have been instructed to thoroughly study these issues, including with the participation of the deputy corps.
I woul’d like to reiterate that creating a favourable environment for all respectable entrepreneurs is one of our priorities. Protecting people’s rights and property, making laws more objective and fair towards all those who conduct their business in good faith. And of course, the principle of fairness should also underlie our tax and fiscal policy as a whole.
We have introduced a moratorium on changing the tax burden for businesses until 2018. Obviously, entrepreneurs should have both a long-term horizon for planning their activity and additional development resources. If the Finance Ministry believes that it is even possible to talk about easing the fiscal burden, that’s great, but then the Government should decide which of the state’s social commitments should be abandoned. What should we reduce – pensions, benefits, defence and security spending? What needs to be done? Because we understand that problems cannot be solved just like that, but of course, we should think about this.
I would like this to be mentioned here, and I would like you to hear it. Despite certain budget restrictions that always exist, whether oil prices are high or low – this is inevitable, – I want you to know that we are constantly thinking about how to reduce the fiscal burden. This is true. I am not joking. It is difficult to achieve this goal, but we are discussing it all the time.
You know that in the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, an instruction was issued to the Government Commission on Administrative Reform to come up with specific proposals on removing redundant and overlapping functions of oversight bodies and to do this jointly with business associations. By all appearances, this issue has not been completely resolved. If you have any wishes, considerations or comments, we would be very grateful for your input.
The RSPP took part in drafting the new Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union and creating a system of technical regulations in the Eurasian space. I would like to hear what problems and difficulties domestic companies encounter in connection with the conditions worked out for the Eurasian Economic Space.
Thank you for your attention. Thank you very much.