Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday stressed the importance of economic growth, saying development is the top priority of the country.
While giving his annual state of the union speech to the Federal Assembly, Putin addressed the full scope of domestic and foreign issues, as well as the outlines for international cooperation and the prospects for various economy sectors.
For Putin, the state of union address is an opportunity to explain government policies and inspire the people. Like previous years, economic growth and social development is a major focus of Putin’s speech.
With the peak of the crisis behind and fresh possibilities ahead, Putin stressed the need to strive for growth and development rather than settling for stability.
Russia’s GDP fell 3.7 percent in 2015, and the government expected the GDP decline to reach some 0.2 percent this year amid a recovering industrial sector, which is showing slight growth, Putin said.
With regard to inflation, the president said he believed the country could reach the targeted inflation figure of 4 percent in 2017.
“This is a great prerequisite for achieving substantial growth on the basis of a healthy economy,” he said.
Despite persisting problems, Putin said Russia has managed to deliver macroeconomic stability.
“We have ensured macroeconomic stability. That is very important. We have kept our financial reserves,” Putin said.
The president added that the central bank reserves have grown instead of diminishing.
“While in the beginning, on Jan. 1, 2016, there was 368.39 billion U.S. dollars, now there is 389.4 billion dollars,” he said.
However, Putin pointed out that Russia’s economic status quo is far from satisfactory, saying basic problems plaguing the economy must be resolved in order to reinvigorate economy and promote development.
“If Russia does not solve basic problems in its economy and doesn’t launch new growth factors to the full extent, it will hover at a level close to zero for years,” he warned.
As for the country’s long-term growth, Putin said the government will draft by May 2017 a detailed plan of development until 2025 that would jump-start the economy.
As for the development of specific industries, Putin stressed the importance of the upgrade of the country’s defense industry, saying it is essential to focus the sector on producing modern, competitive civilian products for healthcare, energy, aviation, shipbuilding and space.
“Over the next decade, its (civilian products) share must take up no less than one third of the total defense industry output,” Putin said.
While stressing the importance of economic development, Putin also reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to improving relations and promoting cooperation with countries across the world.
The president emphasized Russia’s commitment to an equal dialogue among partners in resolving issues and outlined the Russian position on upholding national interests while seeking mutually beneficial relationships and making friends instead of enemies.
“We do not want confrontation with anyone,” Putin said. “We are not looking, and have never looked, for enemies. We need friends.”
Meanwhile, Putin also said that Russia would nevertheless “not allow its interests to be infringed upon.”
He reiterated Moscow’s readiness to work with Donald Trump once the U.S. president-elect takes office in January.
“It is important to normalize and start to develop bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, Putin said he expected a high-quality progress with regard to relations with Japan. “We welcome the aspiration of the state’s government to develop economic ties with Russia, to launch joint projects and programs.” Enditem