The meeting was attended by presidium members of the Delovaya Rossiya National Public Organisation. Representatives of its regional branches were participating via videoconference.
Also attending the meeting via videoconference were First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Governor of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina, Head of the Federal Assay Chamber Yury Zubarev, and Chairman of the VEB.RF State Development Corporation Igor Shuvalov.
Excerpts from the transcript of the meeting with members of the Delovaya Rossiya National Public Organisation
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, good afternoon.
I am glad to welcome you and meet again with Delovaya Rossiya representatives. To start, I want to congratulate you, your colleagues and partners, leaders, and owners of businesses in all regions of this country on the special occasion, Russian Entrepreneurship Day.
You know well, of course, even without my reminders, but I want – thank you for your applause – to emphasise once again that managing one’s own business means above all hard, daily work which requires substantial knowledge and a special talent, as well as an ability to take risks, focus, concentrate efforts and resources, and rally people to achieve a common goal. It is necessary to understand that the success of a business enterprise is also a success for the country as a whole, the wellbeing of your colleagues, creative teams, work teams, and their families. And this understanding encapsulates the immense value of the cause you serve.
Today, business is much more than just economic activity, or more precisely, it is not limited to economic activity. The revival of historical and the development of new traditions of Russian enterprise are a key factor of social stability and our sovereignty in the broadest meaning of this word, namely, technological, industrial and even cultural sovereignty and the sovereignty of values.
Businesspeople assume huge responsibility for their enterprises, workforce, as well as the cities and towns where they do business. You work to improve the well-being of millions of people, formulate the demand for research and top-class professionals, and you certainly advance the system of vocational training. We always speak about this, and today this subject may come to the fore during our discussions as well.
An absolute majority of Russian businesspeople – I would like to emphasise this – have shown convincingly through their deeds that their interests are connected with Russia, where they want to create and expand production, acquire assets, live and bring up children.
At a challenging time, like the one we are facing now, your workers certainly look at you, their directors, at the way you act in these difficult and unusual circumstances, what you feel, and how you organise your lives. I assure you that all of you are being scrutinised by the people who are working with you.
It is very important that many businesspeople have shown themselves to be real fighters who worked and continue working in a confident and composed manner. I have no doubt that a leader’s authority and a high business, social and moral reputation will continue to help you expand your businesses and become stronger.
Being in the thick of things and at the forefront of business processes together with your workers, you continue to develop private business and increase its weight in the national economy.
I am confident that this positive trend will persist, and that the state will provide support at all levels so that our businesspeople increase investment in the construction of enterprises and the creation of jobs.
I know that Delovaya Rossiya is collaborating with the leaders of Russian regions and municipal governments, and is coordinating the launch of a regional investment standard jointly with them.
I believe that it is correct and very useful when the best practices of attracting and supporting investors are popularised, and when successful practices are used in a growing number of regions, cities and towns of Russia.
It means that our businesses and people have more opportunities, and that the territories of our country are given a lasting development impetus.
Today Russian businesses, including small and medium-sized companies, are actively exploring the niches on the domestic market that were left by departed Western brands.
Let me remind you that in the early 1990s – and you know this better than anybody – our market was essentially handed over to foreign companies, including transnational corporations. Of course, Russian entrepreneurs could not compete with them for objective reasons.
It is time to regain our positions, and Russian companies are confidently taking advantage of this opportunity. They are increasing supplies of their own goods and services that are not inferior to and sometimes surpass foreign alternatives.
What I would like to emphasise is that, as important and significant the domestic market is, without doubt, we should not be limited by it; otherwise, we are headed for isolation, autarchy and a loss of our competitive ability.
Russia, no matter how much our enemies dislike this, is an integral player in the global economy, where a deep, radical transformation is underway. Trade and production chains, as well as the global financial and settlement system, are changing.
The dynamically developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America are asserting themselves. Their consumption standards are improving, with new demand for goods, services and technology emerging.
In view of its scale and enormous prospects, it is the market of the future. It is the market where Russian businesses – young, flexible but sturdy – can compete successfully for customers. And that is what is happening. I believe today we will discuss additional forms of support we can offer to our companies entering foreign markets.
Of course, we will also focus on improving the business climate here, at home, in Russia.
We communicate on a regular basis, returning to this issue during our meetings and openly discussing the concerns of our businesspeople that are important for promoting their initiatives. This close cooperation and direct contacts between the business community and the executive branch fully pay off. I hope that you will speak about this in more detail today.
At some point, with the participation of business circles, we began easing administrative burden on business in a system-wide manner, on a wide scale, and introduced regulatory impact assessments for companies, reduced the number of inspections and simplified the reporting and submission of other mandatory papers. It seems that this is a never-ending process, and it never stops because as soon as we lift something, new regulations appear that are not very effective sometimes. So, this live dialogue has always been and will always be useful.
We will continue to move in this direction while being guided, above all, by the opinion of businesspeople, and acting in your interests, which means in the interests of the personnel at enterprises and in the interests of our entire economy and country.
I would like to emphasise that a favourable, competitive business environment cannot be created by calls or declarations; the feedback from the business community is very important here. We need to proceed from real issues, identify them and address them.
In February 2022, we discussed abolishing criminal prosecution for the non-payment of taxes and other fees if the debt was completely paid off. We also discussed reducing the statute of limitations for such crimes. It was not easy to reach a compromise here, but the necessary work was done and the relevant federal laws were signed in March 2023 and came into force.
As a result, everyone stood to gain: enterprises can now work in a more sustainable way, without those risks, while the state budget is being replenished.
I would like to add that at the previous St Petersburg Economic Forum, initiatives were put forward to scale back on criminal law. These initiatives were also based on suggestions from business associations. Colleagues, I want to draw your attention to the fact that this work is ongoing. The Government is on it, and in the near future, it will finish studying these ideas and proposals and will come up with a final solution. Let me reiterate, the Government is actively working on it and soon will bring this work to its logical end.
During a meeting with Delovaya Rossiya members a year ago, you raised issues of special social significance. You spoke about boosting the quality of medical services, the use of remote technologies in healthcare, electronic prescriptions, and how to improve the environment in our cities and towns.
Today we will talk by all means about the progress we are making in all these areas. In other words, the agenda of Delovaya Rossiya demonstrates your awareness of society’s needs and your desire to help solve the problems of the country and the people.
In this connection, I would like to thank our businesspeople who are helping create a peaceful life in the liberated territories of Donbass and Novorossiya, and rebuild industrial, infrastructure and social facilities there. This involvement in the common cause of the country and focus on improving the quality of people’s lives certainly deserve state support. This support will definitely be provided.
I believe that the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, working together with Delovaya Rossiya and other associations, could create a so-called social capital standard for business based on the principles we have recently discussed at the Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP).
I would like to remind you that this implies the stable and long-term development of business and its increased contribution to the development of the country as a whole, care for the workers and their families, support for social programmes and the implementation of environmental protection projects.
I believe that it would be correct to add to this standard incentives for businesspeople who want to take part in dealing with social and environmental issues. At the same time, this would offer the state and the regions additional mechanisms for cooperation with such companies and businesses.
In conclusion, before we begin our conversation, I would like to suggest that we discuss one more initiative today, a half-decade of creative business endeavour. It should not be a period of official or pseudo-official protocol events, but five years of practical, substantive work, including to improve the business and investment climate (work in this area is ongoing, but we should try harder), increase the effectiveness and modernise economic sectors, and promote personnel and vocational education, new formats of public-private partnership, interaction with the regions and municipal governments, and so on and so forth. Of course, we also expect substantive proposals from Delovaya Rossiya, the RSPP, Opora Rossii and other business associations.
Let us get down to business.
Vladimir Putin (commenting on the remarks by Chairman of the Delovaya Rossiya National Public Organisation Alexei Repik: I would like to make a couple of remarks with your permission.
First, regarding the future. In reality, everyone has a future but this future is different. This is a key issue. I am sure Russia has a good future because, first, we know what we want and we know what means we need to use to achieve our goals.
Second, we have tremendous resources, primarily, human resources, our people. Despite all discussions on education – there is room for improvement in both the secondary and higher education – we have a sustainable system and Russian citizens strive for knowledge This is the main thing. This striving has probably been developing since the Soviet times. This is a striving for knowledge and the authority of knowledge as such. This is very important and this has fortunately been preserved.
We have wonderful schools that were created over decades. I am referring to the mathematical school and others as well. This is the foundation. We have wonderful engineering schools. Naturally, all these schools must be modern and we must develop to parry the challenges we are facing.
Everyone has a future but I would like to make the following point. You have now said about the need to reorient to rapidly developing markets. They began to develop rapidly not because of the events in Ukraine but because of the objective circumstances linked with the change in the global economy structure and the appearance of new world leaders.
This process has been going on for several decades. It is simply becoming obvious now. At one time, we launched this re-orientation gradually, and, let me repeat, not even in conjunction with the current tragic events. No. We simply understood beforehand where these global economic growth centres were and started working with them.
Unfortunately, we have not done everything we planned. As I said many times, we are not developing the Eastern Operating Domain as we wanted to and planned and there are other things as well. But I definitely agree that at one time, in the 1990s, we gave our market to foreign producers and this concerned many areas of activity.
Of course, it was difficult or practically impossible to compete against the giants that came to our market and swallowed it for many reasons. You know everything about this – better than I do.
At one point, it became clear that we did not have enough breathing space on our own market, that our entrepreneurs, our businesses could not break into it. I am not even talking about large trade networks into which our agricultural producers could not get access. This also concerned our high-tech area. There was no way of getting into our own market. Our competitors had secret subsidies that were huge but invisible. Yet, they existed and so on. The amount of support measures was huge and we faced them only when we started taking up this matter.
But in fact, this was a blessing in disguise – in the direct meaning of this expression. They began to leave – we did not oust them and are not ousting them now – they are leaving by themselves. And they are not just leaving but leaving behind the infrastructure they had created, standards and often professional personnel – a lot of things. They gave it all up for next to nothing or nothing at all. Well, we are not going to award them with some excessive capital because of their departure. You know what instruments the state is using – C accounts and the like. So we are much more civilised that those who are imposing restrictions on Russia. Naturally, we should and will protect our interests.
But the freedom space is being vacated for our entrepreneurs, of course. And, again a blessing in disguise – this is happening when, frankly speaking, our economy, businesses and state-owned companies have become so strong that they are occupying these niches with relative ease in the main sectors. Nobody seemed to expect such speed from us. And, by the way, this explains why the labour market is in better shape than ever before, why the economy and industrial production are on the upsurge.
Yes, there are problems and we expect them in mid-term perspective. We realise what is taking place in our machine building. We are aware of the need for spare parts. We understand everything. However, all chains are recovering and they are working. It is surprising – even for me – but this points to the maturity of our people, especially in the business community, to their initiative and talent.
Of course, the state is helping them. I believe, overall the Government is doing well, let’s put it this way.
That said, if this caste – the business community – had not been established, the result would have probably been different. It seems to me that the planned economy would not have produced results.