Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting to discuss various scenarios for Russia’s socio-economic development through 2030
22 february 2011
Prime Minister Putin's introductory remarks:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Today we will review a research paper that summarises possible scenarios for Russia's socio-economic development over quite a long period, through 2030. This document is of great practical importance. Its conclusions will form the basis for a socio-economic prognosis of our country's development for the next twenty years and serve as a point of departure for formulating a long-term budget strategy, as well as state programmes in priority areas, such as demographics, education, healthcare, the modernisation of manufacturing industries, innovation, and economic integration with our neighbours. It will also provide reference points for businesses so that they can plan ahead.
I am aware that the proposals of the Ministry of Economic Development have been debated extensively. Mr Kudrin has reported back on this issue separately today. In my view, such debates can do nothing but good. We need a truly comprehensive, well-balanced, and realistic prognosis for the next two decades.
I believe that this prognosis is intended to provide clear and well-grounded answers to several critical questions. First, we need to estimate possible risks over the long term, in particular those caused by global economic developments. Our economy should be more shock-resistant, which we concluded more than once. At the same time, our prognoses should be as objective as possible.
We have just discussed our reserves – Mr Kudrin made a report on this issue. Until now, we refrained from using the monies of the National Welfare Fund. We used the capital of the Government Reserve Fund instead, expecting that it would stand at some 240 billion roubles as of January 1 of this year. It currently stands at 775 billion roubles, while, I repeat, we haven't even touched the National Welfare Fund. With the oil price at $93 per barrel, the Reserve Fund can grow to 1.45 trillion roubles by the end of this year. We should understand, however, that this is one possible result of temporary changes in the economic environment, and we must not ratchet up spending, but rather act in the same conservative manner we displayed in previous years. We'd do better to keep this money and use it to curb inflation, not push up spending towards the same end. However, we'll certainly make use of it should the global economic situation again change for the worse.
Incidentally, over the past few years, the Ministry of Finance and the government in general have successfully invested the money of our reserve funds and played the currency market, which brought in quite good returns, amounting to some 1.6 trillion roubles.
But I digress. I would also like to emphasise that the recommendations laid out in this report should clearly identify sources of future growth, while taking into account Russia's unique economic situation.
Third, we need to pay special attention to quality indices, such as the quality of life, labour productivity, and energy efficiency. The main requisite for their improvement is groundbreaking economic modernisation.
Fourth, we should balance the budget with consideration for the state's social commitments as well as our priorities in security and economic modernisation.
Furthermore, any change in the price of goods and services provided by natural monopolies must be economically justified. We must find a reasonable balance between these products' consumer affordability and our plans for infrastructural modernisation. Clearly, we cannot cut off investment in infrastructural development, but at the same time, unreasonably high consumer prices should not become hindrances to the growth of the economy itself.
In closing, it is obvious that the projections developed by the Ministry of Economic Development need refining. And today we will focus on truly strategic crossroads – the most controversial issues. Let's get down to work.