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Putin calls for careful use of ‘safety cushion’ reserves

December 23, 2013, 20:02 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, December 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia can and should use assets from the National Welfare Fund but it should do so very carefully, President Vladimir Putin said, adding that this “safety cushion” must be treasured.

“The decision has already been made to develop infrastructure. These are infrastructure projects that will produce noticeable, clear and tangible results. Such projects have been approved and will be implemented,” Putin said on Monday, December 23.

He admitted that global economic problems had affected Russia too. “The situation in countries with a well-established market economy has slightly improved but still it is not what it should be,” he said.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has lowered its forecast for global economic growth from 3.5 percent to 1.5 percent in 2013. “I think it will be less than that this year, something around 1.4 percent, no more. There has been a substantial decline throughout the world. Some Eurozone countries are still in recession and we will see no figures above 1 percent in the Eurozone as a whole, 0.5-0.6 percent maximum,” the head of state said.

“Russia is not much different from the global economy in this respect: the same trends, or even better, as in European countries - 1.4-1.5 [percent of growth]. We shall see after the end of the year,” he said.

At the same time, Putin warned against self-complacency. “We should overcome internal problems such as the affordability of loans, development of infrastructure and improvement of the business climate,” Putin said at a meeting of the State Council, which is an advisory body to the president, which deals with issues of the highest importance to the state as a whole.

His statement came as a reply to Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov’s remarks that the implementation of the tasks set by the State Council was hindered by serious problems and his call for investing 20 trillion roubles in the modernisation of industry and in high technologies and security of people, and another 5-6 trillion roubles in the implementation of the president’s decrees issued in May 2012 after his inauguration.

“In order to implement the programme as a whole, GDP should grow at a rate of at least 5 percent. If we look at the forecasts made by our economists three years ago, they said that GDP would grow by about 8 percent this year. But we have slid down to less than 1.5 percent and there are no signs of improvement next year,” Zyuganov said.

He said China would report 7.5 percent this year, the United States 2.4 percent, and the global economy would grow by 3 percent this year and 4 percent next year.

Zyuganov said Russia needed a new financial and economic policy in order to fulfill its goals.

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