MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Large-scale tasks in the economy and the society can only be resolved through changes in the economic structure, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly. "We will be capable of tackling ambitious tasks in the sphere of security and social development, creating modern jobs and improving regions’ quality and level of life through changes in the economic structure," the president said. Diversification of the economy should be the top priority of economic development, Putin said. "It is important we have successful companies in industry, agriculture, small and medium business. The task is that the number of such companies should grow quicker and in all areas. Our import substitution, export support, production upgrade and professional staff training programs should be aimed at delivering this goal," the President added.
Economic situation in Russia challenging, not critical, positive trends clear
The economic situation in Russia is challenging but not critical, positive trends are clear, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"The situation is really challenging but not critical. Already today we see positive trends. Industrial production and the exchange rate of the national currency have stabilized in general. There is visible inflation slowdown," President said.
Putin added that last year the Russian Federation faced serious economic challenges. "Prices for oil and other export commodities plunged. Access of Russian financial institutions and companies to global financial markets was limited. I know that life is not easy for many now. Economic turmoil affects revenues and living standard of our people in the whole," President said.
According to the data provided by Russia’s Finance Ministry, Russia passed the bottom of the crisis in summer 2015, which was followed by certain positive trends. According to the Central Bank’s estimates, inflation will slow down to reach 12-13% in 2015, 5.5-6.5% in 2016 and 4% in 2017.
Freedom of enterprise is key to development
Freedom of enterprise is a key condition for development, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said.
"I see freedom of enterprise as a key economic and social issue. And through this - freedom of enterprise and its expansion - we have to respond to all the attempts to impose limitations on us," he said.0med
According to the latest World Bank's 'Doing Business' rating, Russia has improved its position by 11 notches: from 62nd place in 2014 to 51 in 2015.
Improving the business climate is one of the strategic tasks of the government. The World Bank notes Russia implemented 5 economic reforms over the year, which led to the imrovement in the rating.
Only competitive local manufacturing should be supported
It’s necessary to support only competitive local production enterprises, Russian President Vladimir Putin added.
"It should once again stress that we will support only competitive local production sites. No one should have illusions that hiding behind import substitution one can clap on imitations and dead articles triple the price to the government and citizens," President said, adding that "Russia needs companies, which are able not only to provide the country with competitive high-quality products but to tap global markets."
Putin also said a special export center has been set up in Russia to back the companies prepared for such work.
Extending preferential conditions to key harbors in Far East
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested extending preferential conditions of Vladivostok port to key harbors in the Far East. "The intention is to extend preferential treatment of Vladivostok free port to key harbors in the Far East in order to improve competitiveness [of the Northern Sea Route]," the President said.
Businessmen working in this region ask authorities about that, the President added. The Northern Sea Route should become a connecting link between the Northern Europe and the Asia-Pacific, the head of state said.
Russia will continue developing strong logistical centers, particularly Azov - Black Sea and Murmansk hubs, ports at the Baltic Sea and in the Far East, and strengthen the system of interregional air traffic, particularly in Northern and Arctic territories, Putin said. "We will discuss the condition of inland waterways in detail at one of forthcoming meetings of the State Council," he added.