President Vladimir Putin:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, participants and guests at this forum,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you, including the members of the press, to this, the Fifth International Economic Forum ‘Kuban-2006’. With every passing year the forum attracts an increasing number of participants and guests, who bring with them ever more ambitious investment bids and business plans. The investment dialogue conducted in the working groups helps to coordinate the positions of business and the authorities and helps consolidate budget and private resources.
As a result, and I particularly note this circumstance, the overall number of investment agreements and contracts concluded at the meeting is rising steadily.
Without any doubt, the Kuban Forum’s success is an indicator of southern Russia’s great economic potential. But it also shows once again that the Russian economy can develop and is already developing not only in the natural resource-rich regions or the biggest cities.
There is high growth potential in Russia’s agriculture sector, in the foodstuffs industry and the tourism and leisure business. There is demand for intellectual, education and cultural goods and services. The Russian information technology and communications industries are undergoing rapid development and there are also good commercial prospects in the transport and infrastructure sectors, the construction industry and the construction materials sector.
In this situation, each individual Russian region has its own economic possibilities and growth base.
This is all the more true for the south of our country, which has always benefited from competitive advantages such as a developed transport infrastructure, advantageous geographical location, good climate, and qualified labour force.
One of the distinguishing features of the current economic situation in Russia is increasing demand for investment. Investment growth in basic capital exceeds 10 percent for the fourth year in a row now and was already up by 11 percent for the first eight months of this year.
Perhaps one of the most important indicators for investors is the inflation rate, which in August was at 9,5 percent per annum. This is, unfortunately, higher than our target figure, higher than what we had forecast, but it is nonetheless lower than the 12.5 percent figure we had last year.
A number of new trends with a positive impact for business are emerging in the economy now. In particular, special economic zones are being established in a number of areas. The Investment Fund and venture funds are beginning to work now, and we have also laid the legal foundation for making broader use of concessions, above all in carrying out infrastructure projects in the housing and utilities sector and in building roads and railways.
I also draw your attention to the investment offers here in this region. The city of Sochi is a candidate to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, and this creates unique opportunities for new business initiatives. There are truly great possibilities here. As I have already said before, if Sochi wins the right to host the Olympics, we will all be overjoyed, but even if it doesn’t, we will make use of Sochi’s candidacy to develop the south of Russia for our people, because our people need this development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know that business chooses regions where the political situation is stable and where the local authorities guarantee the personal safety and property rights of residents. Investment activity increases when companies have transparent, predictable and beneficial conditions of work and relations with the tax, control and law enforcement agencies.
We have been able to see the full measure of these simple truths in evidence here in the south of Russia. Today, the local authorities plan to take even more effective measures and a number of additional steps in order to establish a genuinely favourable business climate in the region. I hope that the meeting between the regional authorities and the business leaders will look at this in detail.
I would also like to inform you that a few days ago, I established the Commission for Improving the Socio-economic Situation in the Southern Federal District. This new commission will provide a framework for undertaking systemic work in this area.
In conclusion, I would like to wish the Kuban Forum productive work, and I wish you, the participants and guests – I see many good friends here – favourable business opportunities.
Thank you for your attention.