Vladimir Putin: Despite all the problems, difficulties and concerns we faced in the beginning, I told the Government to put together a budget for 2004 that would preserve the macro-economic stability in the country, and the basic targets following their first reading seem to be pointing that way.
Remember that this year’s budget was also drawn up with a surplus of 2.5%. And next year we are not going to just collect and spend money to the last rouble. We are again planning a surplus budget, and the extra money obtained will be channeled into a stabilisation fund, or, as they say in other countries, a fund for future generations. The idea is that in the event of an unfavourable situation on world markets we will have a so-called “safety cushion”, or money that will carry us through the rough times.
We observe the same thing in social and political affairs – although our multi-party system is only taking shape. We already have a steadily performing electoral system. We are now approaching State Duma elections and elections in ten regions: St Petersburg, Chechnya, Moscow, the Moscow Region and other parts of the Russian Federation. It is my fond desire that our sense of stability does not falter and does not create the impression that all problems are solved and no other efforts are needed and that somebody else will do something somewhere without us.
I look forward to the high political activity of our people, because that is always an important sign for the authorities – the activity itself and the population’s ranking of preferences during the course of election campaigns and in elections themselves.
I would like to finish by saying that despite a tight and involved political schedule, despite the upcoming national parliamentary and presidential elections in March, we and State Duma deputies will put together not a populist budget, but the country’s main economic law aimed at developing our economy and at reaffirming our course towards Russia’s stable development.