President Vladimir Putin: A lot of different opinions were expressed at our meeting here today, and at moments debate was even quite heated. I think this is good because it has enabled various points of view to be heard. I hope that the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and the government as a whole will also listen to the opinions raised and take them into account in the final drafting of the documents, the very important documents for this sector, that we spoke about today. These discussions are important because everything that we spoke about here concerns the forestry code that is being drafted and the practical impact of the other package of legislation and regulations governing this sector.
I’m thinking here not even only of laws and regulations directly concerning forestry. Our colleagues raised the question of VAT, for example, and getting rebates on VAT. The deputy minister has already said that proposals on these lines are being worked on. I don’t want this to be just words. I hope that by the end of the year these proposals will be implemented, and next year, I hope that we will take even bigger and bolder steps that will enable us to reduce taxes in general and dramatically approve the administration side of things, which will also concern rebates on VAT. Such are, for the moment, the government’s plans that we recently discussed.
As for tax on profits, it was right to raise the issue here. The abolition of tax breaks has complicated various aspects of investment, and I hope that here too, suitable action will be taken. I think it would be right to take a tougher line on taxes on imported technical equipment. I agree that there should be a selective approach here. We must avoid at any costs worsening the situation for our manufacturers producing the same kinds of equipment. In certain cases, such as in the example cited here, when no one in the world in general is producing anything, there is no reason why we should put our manufacturers in a difficult situation. This could be just the case for making tax breaks available. This issue is also being discussed at the moment, and selective decisions are being prepared.
Regarding the cost of borrowing, this is, of course, more complicated. As far as the banks go, change in the situation would have to be linked to improvement in the general macroeconomic climate and the country’s economy because the state cannot take on the responsibility of guaranteeing loans and subsidising interest rates. In some cases, in agriculture, for example, we do this during the sowing period or during preparations for the next sowing period, but we cannot afford to do this for the entire economy.
The very important question of infrastructure was raised today. Of course we must develop the country’s infrastructure and bring it in line with the economy’s demands, but it is important that business not just take the use of this free state infrastructure for granted. Let’s be open here, after all, you yourselves have given examples that show that logging goes on where access roads and so on exist. But who takes the trouble to calculate how much of the people’s money has gone on this infrastructure? Yes, we should support business, and yes, we should create the conditions that will allow business to work effectively, but does business pay for this infrastructure? No.
So, looking at infrastructure development, we first have to ensure effective and transparent activities in the sector overall. We have to be clear about what the state can expect in return if it invests in infrastructure development.
I also took note of what you said about Valaam. I think that this goes not just for Valaam. I discussed many similar questions with the head of the government, including Valaam. We will definitely look into this and keep it in view.
I would like to thank you all. I, and my colleagues from the government, have taken note of the points you raised, and we will definitely take them into account in further work on the documents in this area, including the additional work on the forestry code.
Thank you very much, and I wish you every success.