President of Russian Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon dear colleagues!
I think we will discuss the current economic situation and the cooperation currently required between business and government with a view to resolving the range of challenges facing the country, but also in light of the fact that a number of states are suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis.
As you know, state authorities are taking quite energetic steps to stabilise the situation in the banking sector and, therefore, in the real sector. Decisions on how to do so and on supporting retail, pharmaceutical institutions, agricultural enterprises, construction enterprises that build apartments, machine building and the defence industry have all been taken.
Along with this, the range of tools available for today's situation is quite large. In general, measures include a substantial increase in lending, providing government guarantees if necessary, subsidising interest rates on loans if necessary, support for leasing companies, and buying mortgages from commercial banks in instances involving building and when banks have lent to developers.
But of course all these measures are successful only on the condition that the environment is really sensitive to these decisions: if levels of intermediaries won’t pile up in between the decisions to allocate money and real borrowers, those requiring credit, the representatives from the real sector, if the money that comes from the highest levels, the highest level of creditors in commercial banks, does not get stuck somewhere. And we know that such things happen because a significant amount of liquidity has been made available but enterprises have not received it, and we must acknowledge this openly.
This what the cabinet was working on yesterday. Today I would like to listen to you, to hear what you have to say about this, find out where you see the problems and how you think we should proceed to resolve this situation. We should do everything to minimise the number of layers between the decision to allocate money and real getting credit by a particular company.
Some steps have been taken to support small and medium-sized businesses. This will entail an increase of 50 billion roubles within the framework of state subsidies, together with the regions of the Russian Federation. Vnesheconombank should also seriously increase the volume of lending to small and medium-sized businesses up to 30 billion roubles. All these problems are priorities for the cabinet.
Of course we also need to address what was discussed yesterday during the meeting [Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had] with the bankers: it's necessary to look for trends in capital outflows. The additional cash liquidity we need to inject into the market is not designed to help banks purchase foreign currency or to set up reserves in foreign banks.
Of course there are problems other than those caused by the financial turmoil, and regardless of the crisis we are not changing our priorities, as I said recently when delivering my Address to the Federal Assembly.
Our goal is to create a layer of active, involved people, a full-fledged Russian middle class, and we will take all steps necessary to create and develop it, because the existence of a middle class is effectively the basis for the further development of the state.
There are issues associated with technological support, support for the competitiveness of companies in various sectors, issues related to technology upgrading, governance structures and production incentives for innovation. We have talked about all these a lot recently, but to speak frankly we are still waiting for a breakthrough.
In the high-tech and nanotechnology spheres we have to admit that so far we have done almost nothing, and the huge amounts of money we have set aside in this area have not been allocated. For this reason we must take all the necessary administrative decisions in this area too, at the federal level, in public corporations, and at the level of business, both medium-sized and small.
Another issue which I had planned to discuss with you because I think it is relevant for all of us is the anti-corruption measures that I sent to the State Duma. They are now being examined in parliament and have already passed the first reading.
I propose to discuss them with you because yesterday I met with the leaders of the major Russian parties, the largest factions, and they expressed their support for these measures, even though they want to tweak them a little. I am sure that business has its own ideas about this, because obviously corruption is one of the most dangerous signs of the disintegration of a state.
We must take every measure we can to fight this scourge. A national anti-corruption plan has been approved. Nevertheless, we should not be stupid about this. As they say, we must adjust our proposals depending on their effectiveness.
Therefore, if you have any suggestions on anti-corruption monitoring, on protecting the interests of small and medium-sized businesses, facilitating liaisons between business, law enforcement agencies and the media, I think we could discuss that too.
The last issue is very urgent for our country: a reserve pool of managerial skills, also mentioned in my Address [to the Federal Assembly]. We have begun such a programme and I hope that we can launch it by the end of the year. Obviously, good management skills are needed in the public service and in business. We have a system of management training that is far from ideal: it needs improvement but at least it exists.
The challenge now is to create a complete reserve pool for virtually any position that exists, regardless of its level, whether it be at the federal level, the regional level, the municipal level, or some kind of position in a company.
Creating this sort of staff reserve pool is an issue on which I hope we can make significant progress by the end of this year. I would like to hear your suggestions on this issue, precisely because, in my view, there should not be a stone wall between those who work in business and those in public services. People can move from one sector to another. There is nothing inappropriate about that; on the contrary, it helps create a more competent management personnel.