President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Mr Tkachev, in the recent period we have discussed our farmers’ performance often and with pleasure. There is reason to congratulate them on their performance: although the year-end results are not available yet, we know that growth in the industry exceeded 4 percent in January through November.
Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev: Yes, the growth rate was over 4 percent. Thank you for taking note of this, just as you did throughout the year. We appreciate this, considering the unprecedented scale of government assistance. We waited for this for a long time, and now there are incentives in nearly all segments. The results include a 4 percent growth and the largest harvest in Soviet and Russian history – 119 million tonnes. It is a big achievement.
Other achievements include farmers’ revenues, which result in new projects, higher standards of living, new technologies, production growth, and the like. Once again, thank you for this.
Vladimir Putin: We also wanted to talk about lending.
Alexander Tkachev: That is right. As per your instruction, we have launched an unprecedented system of subsidised loans this year. The interest rate for investment and short-term loans must not exceed 5 percent. It can be lower, like 1 or 2 percent, but 5 percent is the maximum. This will definitely boost construction projects in agricultural industry and the processing sector, like new dairy and pig farms. This will radically transform the situation in national agriculture.
Vladimir Putin: What is the amount?
Alexander Tkachev: Around 23 billion rubles. I would like to report that Rosselkhozbank has already started issuing loans as it was the first to prepare. Of course, we are counting on other banks to take an active part.
We have never seen such cheap and accessible loans with such long terms. We are eliminating all red tape. This will give a serious boost to construction, investment and new projects.
Vladimir Putin: What is the selection process?
Alexander Tkachev: Selection is the banks’ responsibility. The Agriculture Ministry prioritises the industries that require support. Projects with secured funding and projects with repayable funds that are interesting, competitive and technology-intensive will be supported on a top-priority basis.
Vladimir Putin: It is always necessary to assess the economic feasibility but we need to minimise bureaucracy.
Alexander Tkachev: Trust me, Mr President, I come from a rural area myself and I know what is involved, so we are minimising indeed. The key point is that we are saving regional funds. There is no need to subsidise the loans from the regional budget. Previously, the regions provided quite sizeable amounts to subsidise loans issued by banks. Now there are only federal subsidies, which means the regions can use the budget funds for other purposes, including farming.
Vladimir Putin: Good.