Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Today we are going to discuss administrative reform and its possible parameters. This is a topic of national significance. But I would like to set the framework for our discussion emphasizing the importance of this reform for the development of the market in Russia.
You may remember that at our previous meetings, whatever the agenda, we invariably touched upon the problem of extrajudicial administrative barriers. We spoke about random interpretation of law by some agencies, the arbitrary actions of bureaucrats and so on. In this connection the question of corruption and its tenacity in the country was repeatedly raised.
It is obvious that corruption cannot be eradicated only by punitive measures.
Far more can be achieved by creating conditions in the market in which it would be easier to obey the rules than to break them. In fact we are talking about liquidating the very basis of corruption and establishing civilized partnership relations between business and the state. That, as you understand, makes administrative reform the key factor.
I am sure that businessmen know from their own experience how important an efficient government system is for the normal functioning of business. A system that is capable of taking responsible decisions. I am sure that the interests of business and the state are absolutely identical in that respect.
During the past two years new laws have been passed aimed at making the government apparatus less bureaucratic. But we do not see any real improvement. The laws are either not obeyed, or they are unenforceable. I would like to hear your opinion today on that score.
I should note that administrative reform cannot be reduced to revising the functions of administration. Rather, it is a broad range of measures, including rational delimitation of administrative powers and modernization of the judiciary. Besides, the aim of reviewing the functions of the state should be to harmonize them with the modern needs of the economy.
That is why it is important for the Government to work to make state power more open, to provide its citizens and the business community with access to information on the activities of the local and central government bodies. A decree to the effect was recently passed. Also, a law is being drafted which will set clear legal limits in the sphere of information provision. I hope to hear your proposals today in connection with the preparation of these documents.
In conclusion I would like to stress that your association is playing an ever more noticeable role in promoting the interests of domestic business in a civilized way. I hope that our meetings are useful. We discuss issues directly relevant to the state and the business community. I hope that what we are discussing here and what we agree upon makes a positive impact. For example, the Government has been more active in helping our enterprises and our business in the external markets – and business activities have intensified. I could cite other more positive examples. I know that they are few so far and I am sure you will be speaking about it. But then the purpose of our gathering is to listen to each other and to adjust our joint actions.
That is all I wanted to say in the beginning. I suggest we get down to business.