The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs congress is taking place during the Russian Business Week (March 11–15), which focuses on new proposals regarding the topical areas of interaction between businesses and the state.
After the plenary session, the President met with members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs’ Bureau.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
I am delighted to welcome all the participants and guests of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs congress.
This congress is taking place at a time when we are starting to work on national projects and implement infrastructure development plans. Once again, I would like to stress what I have said many times and will say again today. Businesses are direct and essential participants of these projects. I hope that our partnership will be productive and that the goals that we set for ourselves will become targets for investing funds, human resources and the business enthusiasm and talent of Russian entrepreneurs. I have no doubt about it. With your competitiveness comes progress for the entire country, new jobs and a higher quality of life for Russian citizens.
Today I suggest that we particularly focus on the tasks that we need to address this year. We will discuss issues that concern you as well as your initiatives to eliminate barriers and create additional real stimuli for businesses. We can see that major Russian companies want to invest in national development programmes and to be closely involved in the national agenda. I want to point out that the participants of a working meeting chaired by Mr Shokhin [President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs] and Mr Siluanov [First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister] discussed almost 1,000 such initiatives. Some 250 investment requests worth a total of 12.1 trillion rubles have been developed based on these initiatives.
This concerns investments in areas of social importance vital for the dynamic growth of the national economy and the country as a whole, including in industry, high technology, transport, communications, the environment and tourism. These are large-scale and long-term projects with broad horizons, which should produce a major synergic effect.
Therefore, I consider it essential to ensure the stability of rules during their implementation and to develop practical measures for lowering investor risks. All these provisions must be incorporated in the law on encouraging and protecting investments. Also, I would like to point out that we need to take additional decisions on the system of special investment contracts so as to enhance the effectiveness of this tool for boosting the development of unique breakthrough technologies in Russia.
I know that our colleagues in the Government have not yet coordinated their position on the draft law on encouraging and protecting investments. Of course, it is a fundamentally new and complicated document in a number of ways, which calls for a thorough analysis of all the details. However, we must accelerate work on this document without sacrificing quality, and we must complete this work as soon as possible, taking into account the positions of businesses and business associations and the proposals that will certainly be put forth today.
Another major issue, about which I spoke in detail in my Address, if you remember, is the environment and the shared responsibility of the state, society and business for the environment and for our ecological well-being.
You know that this year we have launched the full-scale mandatory process of our enterprises’ transition to the best available technology and new environmental standards. This should reduce environmental damage, improve the environment in our largest industrial centres and encourage in-depth industrial modernisation.
I would like to point out again that we must be guided above all by the interests of the people. I am sure you are well aware that it is unacceptable to delay the departure from obsolete technologies or try to moderate environmental laws, including the draft law on emission quotas. If we permit this, we will be unable to formulate and implement new solutions; we will continue to mark time, lagging ever further behind other countries in the quality of life and, certainly, in economic efficiency.
Therefore, I suggest that today we focus on the persisting problems in this sphere. They do exist, and we know about this. We must discuss and take coordinated decisions on the regulatory and any other obstacles that are hindering the transition of our industry to the best available technologies and strict environmental standards.
And another area that I would like to mention separately. A secure residential construction financing system using so-called escrow accounts should go on stream from July 1. That is, the prospective property owners’ contributions will not go to the developer directly, as before, but will be channelled into a special account at the bank and transferred only in exchange for apartments. Construction companies will need to attract larger bank loans using project financing arrangements.
We all understand that this is a new tool for the industry, and we must all work together so as not to reduce, but consistently increase the pace of housing construction. That is, based on the new financing plan. So a clear and transparent interaction between banks and companies, as well as incentives for banks to finance residential projects is of paramount importance. And of course, there should be clear sources for financing social and utilities infrastructure. I would ask representatives of the construction industry – we have already spoken many times about this, met with many colleagues at different levels, and I also held relevant meetings – but if there are questions, I am urging you to raise these and other relevant issues today as well.
Colleagues, exactly five years ago, at the RSPP congress, business associations and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives launched an important project – the National Investment Climate Ranking. This has provided an incentive for management teams in the regions to change their approaches, to provide support to business leaders who are ready to invest in creating jobs, expanding and updating their facilities.
It is important that work on improving the business environment continues. I know that on the sidelines of this congress, the leading business associations and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives signed an agreement on organising the work of a special information platform, which was also discussed in the Address, as you must have noted. With the help of this platform, I hope entrepreneurs will have an additional opportunity to report the facts about any illegal pressure, attempts to seize property, and so on. The heads of law enforcement agencies have already been instructed to provide you with the necessary assistance, to engage in this work and use the emerging mechanism to improve their activities.
I expect that thanks to this cooperation, a major step will be taken to improve the investment climate and increase the transparency of the business environment, so that the conditions for small, medium-sized and large businesses’ entrepreneurial initiatives are in line with the large-scale strategic goals our country faces.