President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I do not intend to assess the activities [of the RSPP] – it would be immodest of me. Speaking of our specific joint efforts, Mr Shokhin [President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs] has covered all the areas. I believe I could simply say that we would continue in the way it was described and will work jointly. However, I find it important to highlight a few key areas.
Mr Shokhin has practically finished on this point: he spoke of professional qualifications and standards, including educational standards that are directly linked to the former. Here I would like to note the RSPP’s role in creating a new system of professional qualifications within the framework of the relevant National Council, headed by Mr Shokhin.
More than 400 professional standards have already been approved with the participation of the business community. A law has been drafted on the mandatory application of professional standards by employers and the establishment of national educational standards on their basis. I would like to thank Mr Shokhin and all the other colleagues who were involved in this effort for their work. We have spoken about this a lot in the past years, noting how important this is, however, at a certain moment the joint efforts seemed to get bogged down. And now it is generally progressing at a good pace.
I expect to see another major step this year – the creation of a regulatory framework for independent assessment of professional qualifications.
Participation in developing the National Rating of Investment Climate in the regions of the Russian Federation was another important area of your activity. The project was launched exactly one year ago, also at a RSPP congress, I believe. Research was conducted in pilot areas last year and now entrepreneurs are being surveyed all over Russia, which is to result in the first national rating. I would like to reiterate that the goal is mainly to summarise the best practice in terms of creating a favourable investment climate and to spread it to other regions of the Russian Federation.
With this in mind, we have launched a special training programme for regional management teams. It is not just about teaching efficient practices – it is also about developing a new modern approach to working with investors, the way it is already done in some regions of Russia (you know this as well as I do) to create a comfortable business environment.
I would like to ask the RSPP and other business associations to continue their active participation in the work to create a National Investment Climate Rating and control the implementation of measures to improve the business environment.
It is only through a partnership between the state and businesses that we can overcome the unfavourable economic situation mentioned here and achieve stable growth, and this, in turn, is impossible without trust, without a common understanding of the nation’s strategic goals and consideration of each other’s interests.
The economic stabilisation plan envisages a range of measures to assist big, medium-sized and small businesses. A special Anti-Crisis Fund has been set up within the federal budget, as you may know. After the adjustment of this year’s budget, it will amount to almost 234 billion rubles.
It is expected that funds from the Anti-Crisis Fund will be directed primarily to support strategic production facilities, implement additional measures to stimulate certain sectors of the economy, small and medium-sized businesses, and the labour market. Actually, Mr Shokhin has just mentioned this. We had a brief exchange before entering this hall, and I asked Mr Shokhin for his assessment of the situation. True, the key interest rate is still rather high and no additional fundamental conditions have yet been created for us to feel confident.
Such targeted support is very important, of course. What is also important – and here I agreed with Mr Shokhin during our brief exchange – is that the Government should arrange practical efforts concerning decision-making and making sure the funds reach the specific production facilities that I mentioned.
I am convinced that we have to consistently and decisively resolve all system-wide issues in the economic and social spheres to ensure that our development acquires a new quality and new dynamics in order to open up the potential of the regions. The Government Commission for Economic Development and Integration has been instructed to develop mechanisms to improve the performance of economy. I would like to ask the RSPP and other business associations to join the commission in this work and to make their proposals.
I know that the business community is working on additional measures to support small and medium-sized businesses and companies that are actively investing in facilities built from scratch. We will take up this and some other initiatives at the next meetings of the State Council and its Presidium. I would also like to hear your ideas and proposals in this area as well.
I would like to add that in the Far East they have already begun creating priority development areas where investors will receive tax benefits, special terms for infrastructure link-up and so forth.
I would like to repeat that greater freedom for businesses is the best response to all external challenges and limitations. Therefore, we will continue creating the most favourable conditions for all who are ready to invest in the national economy and industry, into the development of technologies and the creation of jobs.
In this connection I would like to touch upon the decisions being made regarding companies and citizens who wish to legalise their offshore capital and assets and return them from offshore jurisdictions – something else Mr Shokhin has already mentioned. The law on controlled foreign companies has come into effect and it says owners have to disclose information regarding their foreign assets by April 1 this year.
Obviously, many of those who wish to comply with the law cannot meet this deadline for a number of reasons. Therefore, I agree with those who say we have to extend the deadline for submission of notifications on participation in foreign organisations. For how long – that’s a separate matter. However, here I agree that this needs to be synchronised with the coming into effect of the law on capital amnesty.
There is something I would like to say here, colleagues. I have spoken about this on many occasions, and some of you may have heard it, while others have not. I would like to repeat that the situation is such that alarming information is coming from some countries and we are getting the impression that attempts may be made to prevent the return of capital to Russia. This can be linked to limits on the use of the capital that is now in foreign jurisdictions. Simply bear this in mind.
Of course, each one of you has to make this decision for yourself. Our goal – and I have said this many times to the Government, the Central Bank and the entire law enforcement system, and I assure you – we will do everything possible to ensure that nobody interprets the law to their own benefit, including the law enforcement agencies. If funds were transferred and the job was done, nobody should poke their noses or look for anything that is not envisaged by law. This is one thing. The other is that such actions should be as unburdensome from the economic viewpoint as possible. The rest is up to you. However, the danger of transfers, including into Russian jurisdiction, being blocked does exist.
The mechanisms I am speaking about should be clear, simple and, of course, in compliance with FATF rules. This is also very important, because everything linked to such amnesties is controlled by FATF and should be completely legal and comprehensible from the viewpoint of international law. Nobody should ever doubt that everything happening in Russia is in full compliance with international law and international practice, including the inadmissibility of laundering illegally acquired capital.
For the country to develop with confidence, for millions of people to have good jobs and good prospects in life, responsible businesses should of course always strive for leadership and set themselves ambitious goals. I am certain that we have the required potential, and you can always count on state support. The support instruments, of course, should be developed proceeding from reality and we will do this together – just as we have been doing it in the past decade, at least.