Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Your forum has brought together a very representative group of industrialists and employers from all over the country. Arkady Volsky just said that colleagues have come here today from all 89 regions of the Russian Federation. This gives us an entire cross section of the modern Russian business community.
Present here today are people who have managed to build up their businesses, organise profitable production and create new jobs in the difficult and complicated conditions of the last decade. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, through its active position, has played a large part in this success. It represents all the main sectors of the economy and practically all forms of Russian business.
The main question we face today is what do we see as being the most effective ways of developing the Russian economy? This includes, of course, strengthening the institution of property, carrying out tax and administrative reforms, developing the financial and banking system and reorganising the infrastructure monopolies.
In many of these areas we are already working together through the most effective means of influence – improving legislation. I would add here that this cooperation should bring the country tangible and visible results, above all in the form of an increase in the economic growth rate, real development of a civilised market in Russia and an economically justified, effective and socially oriented tax policy.
I would also like to mention an issue that has already been discussed at meetings with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Active work is now in progress on optimising the structure and functions of the still rather unproductive bureaucratic apparatus. There is nothing surprising here, because we are all in some way, and the bureaucratic apparatus all the more so, products of a planned, command economy.
We are fully aware that these reforms arouse great resistance in officials who have become used to giving their powers a broad interpretation and who only know how to authorise, distribute, restrict and decide for others. I must say that people within the bureaucratic apparatus also understand this problem. In this very hall I met recently with the top municipal officials, and I must say that they are all very modern-thinking people and they understand these problems. They have these problems and you also have these problems. The question then is for us to work together to find the most effective solutions for the country.
It is not easy, but we will see administrative reform through to its completion and in accordance with the principles stated earlier.
The government and its apparatus are to draft and approve standard provisions on the functions of ministries, agencies, services and committees. They will also draw up administrative regulations setting out clear descriptions of the procedures to follow for how documents move through the corridors of the executive branch of power. It is no secret that many of the original objectives set by reform programmes end up being revised and often finish by going nowhere.
I think that state agencies’ specific functions not on the list of basic, general functions of the state should each be examined to determine how justified they are from an economic and political point of view. As you no doubt remember, I spoke about this matter in my annual address to the Federal Assembly.
The functions performed by state agencies should above all reflect the functions of the state as a whole. There are not so many of these functions and they are set out in the provisions of the Constitution. Any surplus functions, therefore, should be seen as a direct road to abuses and the potential for corruption of either the agency itself or of individual officials.
I know that administrative reform is one of the items on your congress agenda and I would ask you, the participants in this congress, delegates and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, to take a more active part in helping to carry out the administrative reform plans. The Government and the Presidential Executive Office will draw up the necessary working mechanisms for involving representatives of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in this process.
The new major national goals we have set, the list of which you are all familiar with, give rise to completely justified expectations among the public. Society expects the business community not just to come up with new ideas, but also to come up with proposals on how to make these ideas reality.
Today’s level of economic development, the conditions we have created and the economic growth rate all make it possible for us to set these new and ambitious goals, including developing a new social policy based on all these factors and taking into account the population’s high level of economic activity and its ability to influence the level of its own social guarantees.
I think the business community could also put some effort into developing a system of new social guarantees for the population that is more in keeping with the demands of the times. Once again, I would like to say that society has high expectations and I think the business community can help support the transformations that have now begun in the army, the housing and utilities sector, health and education.
We must move forward together and become a strong and genuinely competitive player on the world market. And we must build on this to become an influential modern state. Most important, we must work together to bring economic prosperity to our people, make it something they feel in their lives, and give stable and predictable working conditions.
It is my conviction that these tasks are not for the state alone to resolve, but that, fully aware of its social responsibility, all of civil society, including the business community, should be a part of this work.
Your experience, your energy and your ability to carry out both your own plans and major national projects constitute one of Russia’s main development resources.
We know what great intellectual potential business has, what ambitious plans and ideas you have and what an organising and uniting force the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and your congress is.
I wish you success.
Thank you very much for your attention.