Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Presidential Aide Andrei Belousov, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina, Presidential Adviser Sergei Glazyev, and Dean of St Petersburg State University and member of the Presidential Economic Council Presidium Alexei Kudrin.
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Opening remarks at a meeting on the economy
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We have already met before to discuss current economic policy and the current situation and to make plans and forecasts for what we need to do to ensure the sustained growth needed for our country’s development. Let’s come back to this subject today, in this format, discuss the current state of affairs and take a look at the prospects ahead.
Let me start by saying that the Russian economy is stable overall. There are problems that we are all aware of, of course, but even so, the economy showed quite good results last year. Naturally, we would have liked to see higher figures, and we had hoped for more, but the results were nonetheless positive overall, including as compared to a number of the leading European and world economies. Let me just cite a few figures for reference. They come from open sources, and what we see is that in 2013, Italy’s GDP contracted by 1.9 percent, for example, France had GDP growth of 0.2 percent, Germany had 0.4 percent, Japan had 1.6 percent, the US and Britain both had growth of 1.9 percent, and Russia’s GDP increased by 1.3 percent.
A comparative analysis shows that overall, compared to the leading economies, our situation is not bad. But that is just taking a surface glance. We all know that there are differences between the economies I mentioned and the Russian economy, and for our economy this level of growth is insufficient.
We have seen some positive trends this year in a number of sectors, above all in agriculture, transport and communications. The unemployment rate is down compared to the first months of last year, and so too is inflation, which is good to see.
But let me say again that the current and forecast growth rates the Government has given cannot satisfy us in any way. We must step up the pace of development.
Which current issues do I want to note and discuss today? Above all, we need to maintain the existing general macroeconomic stability. We have put considerable effort into building this stability over recent years and have achieved some positive results here. We should maintain what we have achieved, and hopefully build on it too. We need to be ready to respond rapidly to both internal and external risks (and they are not getting any fewer), ensure that the budgets at all levels are executed and keep inflation at an acceptably low level.
It is also important to create new incentives for developing industry and launching new manufacturing facilities, strengthen small and medium businesses, and improve the business and investment climate. We must pay particular attention to getting the financial institutions to support projects in the real sector of the economy, in industry.
I propose that we discuss all of these matters in detail today.
Let’s start this discussion and get to work.