President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues.
We hold regular meetings in this format. True, I invited Alexei Kudrin to join us today, as he is drafting a programme for our future economic development.
This is our first meeting this year. I hope we will have the chance to compare notes, assess where the country’s economy stands today, and the problems before us, as well as what we need to do in the different agencies, working within their areas of responsibility – the Government, the Central Bank, and the Presidential Executive Office – and discuss what we need to do to ensure economic growth.
We are aware of the positive trends that emerged at the end of last year. At the same time, though, we must recognise that these trends are unstable and we need to decide what is most important to consolidate them.
In this respect, I would like to stress that the most important task is undoubtedly maintaining general macroeconomic stability. We must preserve the stability of our state finances, keep inflation and unemployment at acceptably low levels, and ensure response measures for potential risks. We will discuss this today as well.
At the same time, I would like to stress that we must provide new stimulus for developing the economy and support small and medium businesses, particularly through financial instruments for supporting business initiatives and bringing in investment. We need private investment, and we should not forget about state investment either. By private investment, we mean both Russian and foreign investment.
Let us have a good calm discussion on all of these different matters now.