29 december 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Vnesheconombank Supervisory Board

Vladimir Putin

At a meeting of the Vnesheconombank Supervisory Board

“We face major challenges of modernising our economy and making it more competitive and innovative. There are many challenges involved in the development of the regions. Vnesheconombank is actively working in practically all these areas.”

Vladimir Putin's opening remarks:

Good afternoon. Today is the final meeting of the Vnesheconombank Supervisory Board this year, and I would like first of all to thank the bank's management and all the staff members for their intensive, good work this year. A great deal has been accomplished practically without slip-ups. The scale of this work is impressive. I very much hope that the bank will maintain its highly professional performance.

We face major challenges of modernising our economy and making it more competitive and innovative. There are many challenges involved in the development of the regions. Vnesheconombank is actively working in practically all these areas.

It has to be said that VEB's loan portfolio has increased by almost 40% in the first eleven months of this year as a development institution, which is very important for us – a development institution, not just any financial institution.

Moreover, Vnesheconombank is acquiring and has practically acquired already new instruments for implementing the tasks it has been assigned. I mean above all the fact that the managing company of the Russian Direct Foreign Investment Fund has started working. It was created quite recently, but the managing company's portfolio already contains 180 billion roubles worth of projects. That is no mean achievement.

Colleagues, in spite of the well-know difficulties and the generally worrisome developments in the world economy, and they are indeed worrisome, and some complicated processes are taking place in advanced market economies and some countries are already in recession, that is, their economies have declined for three months in a row, and there are gloomy forecasts for some euro-zone countries and the States (things have improved a bit there, but on the whole the problems remain) – in this regard I would like to note that the Direct Investment Fund we have set up may have a real job to do because there are not all that many promising and sure-fire projects to go around in the world, but we have some. Global investment funds have considerable resources: they are looking for somewhere to spend these resources. Most recently, as you will know, I attended the start of the construction of the Kyzyl-Kuragino railway. It is an obvious fact. Here is one such project: huge deposits, very good quality coal and an absolutely guaranteed market. There are not all that many such projects in the world, and it is not the only one in Russia. So I would like you to actively pick up such projects and to work more actively with our partners in the Investment Fund. Be more active. I am sure that in such cases we will not even need to tap into our reserves and our budgets. Why should we if those who have the money are looking for projects to invest in and we have them? All that is needed is to work more actively in this direction.

The North Caucasus Development Corporation, also formed under your bank's auspices, has started its work. The Russian Export Credit and Investment Agency also faces major challenges. We look to that agency to take effective measures to support our enterprises, above all of course, those in high-tech sectors. That is what it was created for. Oil and gas people and metallurgists – they all have their niches in world markets already. We need to support high-tech exports.

I would like to stress that the tasks facing the country – that is, to create points of growth and support innovations – involve, among other things, supporting exports. I expect continued, efficient work from the VEB team.

Now a few words concerning the current agenda. I see here some interesting projects that stand out not only on account of their scale, but are in my opinion potentially very useful for improving our economy. The first of these is the project to develop the potassium and manganese salt deposit and to build an ore-dressing plant in Perm Territory. Why did it catch my attention? Not only because VEB is committed to investing heavily in it (more than 40 billion roubles), but because it is a step that should eventually lead to demonopolisation of that sector of our economy. Demonopolisation is very important. This is not to say that we should undermine anyone; on the contrary, when a competitive environment is created, the situation improves and prices for a product that is very important and necessary for our agriculture are stabilised, the export potential increases, and in this case VEB does not only enter the capital to the tune of 6.7 billion roubles, but also issues a 33 billion loan. That is a sizable amount. The capacity of the ore-dressing plant will be about 2 million tones of potassium chloride, of which 600,000 tonnes should go to the domestic market. I am sure it will give an extra boost to our agro-industrial complex.

Second, a 25 billion-rouble credit line is to be opened for the construction of the middle part of the Western High-Speed Diameter highway in St Petersburg. It is a very important project for the northwest of our country, not only for the city of five million but for the entire northwest. Without a doubt, it will mark a step forward in developing our infrastructure and giving second wind to that part of our country, giving it a new character that is up to European standards, and it will spare this city of five million the burden congestion with heavy vehicles, many of which still pass through central parts of the city even after the ring road around Petersburg was built. The Western High-Speed Diameter is important for the city.

I was in Petersburg on December 23 attending the signing of the relevant documents. I would like to thank all those who worked actively in order to draw one more line in the sand and create the necessary conditions for the work to start.

Finally, a 2.5 billion-rouble loan is to be issued for the "Film Club: Culture, Education, Communications" project involving the creation of a cluster of such clubs as part of the KinoCity project. At least 250 multimedia cinemas are to be built, above all in small and medium-sized towns. There is not enough social infrastructure of this kind in our small and medium-sized towns, and everything must be done to get this project up and running. We have discussed it more than once. I know some agencies have their own ideas on that score, but I would like to stress that we must support this kind of project. Such institutions are unevenly distributed throughout our territory and they need to be supported. The situation is more or less normal in cities with a population of over a million, while in small and medium-sized cities there are fewer and fewer such clubs. They must be supported.

Let's start our work.