Concluding Remarks at the Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs 2003-11-14 20:38:56 Column Hall, Moscow Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, Before Mr Volsky announces the break, I would like to respond to a few of the things that were said here and that I consider important. I will start with some matters that are very specific but are, to my mind, important. First, re-registration of rights to plots of land. If this decision is not taken, then the deadline will be postponed by two years; and this has already been agreed on. This definitely must be done. Moreover, I think that the sale of land on which privatised companies are located, that is to say, what amounts to a secondary sale of land, is unfair. Now two very important systemic issues: bankruptcy and industrial policy. I do not want to start a fresh discussion, but as was already said here, bankruptcy should not be used as a weapon in the competition between businesses; and we should do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen. But the issue is not the “seven kopeks” that stand to be gained from a bankruptcy, the issue is economic recovery, and we all know this. We all know that it’s not about the state collecting seven kopeks from an ineffective business. It’s about winding up businesses that are ineffective and only hamper the development of regions and the state. It was said here that other countries do all they can to prevent bankruptcies. I don’t know where this is the case, and if it is the case, then it is wrong. The state’s role with regard to bankruptcies is to protect the interests of the business and the people who work in it, provide organisational help, offer financial help to reorganise the business, help people to find new jobs. The aim is not to kill off businesses, but to find new roads for development. If this is the way we organise our work, then this will be the right approach. Now, regarding industrial policy, a reference was made here to the United States with the words that the situation is not the best there at the moment. The situation is not the worst there at the moment. The American economy has been developing quite well of late. This is a positive trend and can only make us happy. This is because we also depend on the world economy, and the United States is one of our main trading and economic partners. I wish them success. But not everything that goes on there is good, at least, in my opinion. To use the language of past slogans, we don’t need to blindly copy the West. You are all aware that industrial policy is a complicated issue and that it is constantly under discussion. One of the speakers said as much today and tried to convince us that industrial policy is a necessary thing, and I know that many of you here probably agree with this view. But there is also a view that industrial policy today is nothing other than attempts by some businesses to lobby their interests through state structures at the expense of other businesses, and that it all comes down to who pays the money and how much, and that this is a decision for “his majesty” the state official. I very much want to set our priorities. We all want to be able to set our priorities. I think this is interesting work. Yes, the European Union has indeed approved a whole programme and has allocated vast resources to it. What growth rate do the European Union countries have? 0.2%, you say. I don’t want to make any final conclusions here. I think that questions of the economy’s systemic development should be decided by the Government and the State Duma with the active participation of the business community. Coming to another issue that was raised, and I quote here, “we cannot allow the state as a whole and the law enforcement agencies to be used as an instrument in business competition.” Of course we cannot allow this, and we now have an opportunity to discuss the matter in a broader format. But who is using such means in business competition? Who? The competitors. That is to say, business itself. I must say that sometimes it is very difficult here to see clearly where business ends and where the state begins and where the state ends and where business begins. Setting boundaries between the state and business is a fundamental and ongoing task for practically all countries. The question is how successful we are in resolving this issue at this particular point in time. But the more consecutive our work in this direction, the more successful we will be. It’s only natural that in our conditions where everything is tacked together in a hurry, any criminal investigations into business arouse fears and anxiety. I understand you very well. I understand that the fear is always there that maybe there will be a return to the past. But there won’t. It’s not possible. The state, of course, has to react to violations of the law, and as I said, this has to happen no matter whether it’s an ordinary citizen, a state official or a businessman. But the state also has to provide protection, including, and not in the last case, for business, because protection for business is protection for the state economy. We have no intention of avoiding even the thorniest questions. Concerning specific criminal investigations, we need to get used to a certain legal culture and not slip back into sorting things out by non-legal solutions. Groundless accusations against the law enforcement agencies give rise to groundless accusations of corruption against you and me, against the business community and the state. If we have a problem with the law enforcement agencies and their work, and if there’s something that raises doubts, then we need to set about improving the state institutions concerned, but we need to do this in a systemic, public and legal fashion. The state and the business community will continue their dialogue, and what is more, I think that we are obliged to work together and will work together in the interests of developing the country and helping its economy to grow. We will work together to make this country stronger, wealthier and more prosperous. I wish you every success.