Vladimir Putin met with Leningrad Region’s Governor Valery Serdyukov
25 november 2008
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Let us take stock of the general situation in the region.
Valery Serdyukov: You have spent two very busy days in the Leningrad Region, crossing it south to north.
I have met with several farm managers again today. They thank you for current support and past years' aid. It is clear that agriculture will not be left without support next year and later.
Mr Putin, we are ready with a comprehensive analysis you have asked for. It concerns all agencies and industrial companies. In fact, it involves daily economic and financial monitoring. We have established a commission in which regional administrations, economists and other experts are represented. Now, let us have a look at facts and figures.
This has been a good year, with industrial output increased by 4%, the gross regional product by 6-7%, and profits above the target.
Our monitoring has revealed only one problem: Government help has not yet reached industry. It is hard to get loans, and interest on them reaches 20%. This is more than industry can afford, and managers are at a loss. But a decision has been made to settle monthly taxation and other payments, and cut tax rates by 4%.
Vladimir Putin: That is a federal decision, isn't it?
Valery Serdyukov: Yes, it is. We are concerned about certain companies, especially those that form the foundation of the local economies.
Vladimir Putin: I issued a relevant order two days ago. In such instances, the Government should join efforts with the regions to draw target programmes for the support of such key companies and assistance to the people so that they don't face problems single-handed.
Valery Serdyukov: We are working on several tasks. First, we are developing measures to support companies that intend to maintain production levels next year. To promote industry, we exempt companies from all regional taxes, in particular, land and other rents. All that will help them boost production. Companies should be interested in improving their performance.
Second, economic mainstays, especially companies on which the municipal economy depends, will be entitled to anti-crisis assistance from a special fund. We will support them.
We don't want to see a rise in monopoly gas, electricity and railway tariffs. Industry will not be able to stay afloat if they are bloated. If labour costs increase due to rising monopoly tariffs, many companies may be ruined.
Vladimir Putin: There may be another problem as well. These monopolies, the "natural monopolies" as we term them, make purchases from companies for their own development programmes, which are very ambitious. These programmes might be frozen if they don't raise tariffs, which means they will not purchase metals or, for example, alumina.
So we should look together for the golden means with which we can retain opportunities for major investment projects and prospects for corporate contracts, and also save industrial companies. I think targeted assistance would be of help here. We need to think about this.