President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
The year is coming to a close. I think that you have already discussed everything that has happened – the things we succeeded at, and the things we were unable to achieve.
I would like to say a few words to all members of the Cabinet who were in charge of our economy and our social sector during this difficult period.
First of all, I want to specifically emphasise that despite a significant amount of difficulties related to the global financial crisis and the slowdown in development that occurred in our nation, the Cabinet was nevertheless able to meet all of its key goals. We were able to overcome the negative trends that became clearly evident at the end of last year and the beginning of this one.
This does not mean that we were able to succeed in everything. We might have made a few mistakes. Still, it was impossible not to make mistakes in a situation like this. It is true that in some cases, we probably acted more slowly than the circumstances required, but overall, we were able to preserve the most valuable things: first and foremost, social stability. In Cabinet sessions and in nearly every meeting that I participated in, we always kept in mind that the most important thing was the social peace, order, and security that people have gotten accustomed to in recent years. It was our common achievement, and we managed to preserve it.
We were able to fully meet our social commitments. And in spite of the significant negative trends in both our gross domestic product and our production, many of the people working in production barely felt the blows of the crisis. Here, too, there were some very difficult cases – we had single-industry towns and sectors where we had to help quite actively – but nevertheless, we did a great deal to support ordinary people in the economy.
Another issue that the Cabinet spent a lot of time addressing (quite well, in my view) was support for individual businesses, strategic enterprises, and sometimes even whole industry sectors. If we had not provided this kind of direct support, I think the situation at many plants would be quite different. The reason this challenge was so difficult is that we had not engaged in this kind of direct support for a long time. Under normal circumstances, we felt that the economy would regulate everything naturally, and things would work out on their own. In this situation, however, we had to make targeted decisions, but in addition to making those decisions, we also needed to bring them to their logical conclusions, monitoring the processes to the very end to ensure that the money we allotted was directed to specific companies, and that this money was used properly, to settle wage arrears. This work was very difficult and laborious, but ultimately, it was carried out and it provided good results.
Naturally, we all understand that the upcoming year will not result in immediate sunshine. Even in considering forecasts from a wide range of analysts, it appears that the way out of the global financial crisis will be quite gradual, but there will nevertheless be a way out. That is why we will continue working on crisis exit strategies, maintaining support for the sectors and industries that require it.
Another issue that was very important this year, with a great deal at stake, was the state of the financial sector. In this respect, we were successful in the measures we were able to take, particularly at the very beginning of this year. We were able to maintain financial stability, avert total devaluation, and prevent an unbalance in our banking and credit mechanisms. As a result, our financial system is alive and working quite well. It’s true that we had some clear difficulties related to matters such as high lending rates, but nevertheless, as a result of the harmonious work between the Cabinet and the Central Bank, even this problem was taken care of.
Overall, we had almost no changes in the financial sector that led to negative or dramatic consequences for our economy. I am specifically bringing this up because next year, we will also need to carefully monitor the dynamics of our economy and the state of our macroeconomic indicators, paying special attention to key factors such as inflation, our gross domestic product, and our growth rates. We must also continue to do the things we’ve been doing on a daily basis.
I think that this year was the most difficult one we’ve had in the last twelve years. And the lessons that we all learned are very important, because it is one thing to work in the Cabinet and direct the economic processes under conditions of stable and progressive development with high fuel prices, and quite another to try to get results and help our people resolve social problems under the conditions of declining production, a shrinking GDP, and a global financial crisis. Still, the Cabinet was able to manage.
I would like to particularly thank Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the enormous amount of effort he put in this year, because I think the situation would be much worse had it not been for his heightened attention toward the work of a wide range of sectors, and regular, routine measures involving on-site trips to resolve these very difficult problems in the field.
Colleagues, I feel that this year has shown us a lot. It has shown us what we are capable of, and what we must still learn to do better. I would like to sincerely thank you for your work. I hope that next year, we will have more happy moments and that we will be able to work not only on crisis-related problems, but on the progressive development of our government and economy as well.
I wish you all success and health, and I hope that you have a very happy New Year!
Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would like to add to Mr Medvedev’s New-Year greetings.
It is no secret that all the positive actions we were able to undertake this year were the result of joint efforts – the result of support for our work from the President, the Presidential Executive Office, and the regional authorities. Only thanks to these unified efforts were we able to achieve the modest results that Mr Medvedev just spoke about. I would like to sincerely thank all of you. Happy New Year!