Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the State Council Presidium in Rostov-on-Don on developing the industrial capacity of Russian regions.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: We have gathered at Rostselmash, one of the flagships of the domestic machine-building industry, to discuss approaches to developing the industrial capacity of the regions, to identify concrete measures and steps to ensure that new enterprises, new factories are built and high-quality, high-paid jobs are created in Russian regions, and that Russian industry in general achieves the stable, high growth rates that we need.

I would like to note that last year industrial growth in Russia amounted to one percent. We cannot be satisfied with this. Of course, we are aware of the positive aspects of this growth, the positive side. A number of sectors show good dynamics: transport engineering, the automotive industry, pharmaceuticals, textiles, food, and chemicals.

For example: in 2017, the production of railway locomotives and rolling stock increased by 33 percent, of motor vehicles – by over 13 percent, medicines by 12.3 percent, textiles by 7 percent, food products by 5.6 percent, and chemicals – by 4.3 percent.

I would like to stress that stimulating industrial and economic growth is the most important task for all levels of government, and a key condition for developing the social sphere and improving the quality of people’s lives. We need to support promising projects to make highly processed products, products that will be in demand both in the domestic and foreign markets, and we are also talking about providing adequate staffing for the real sector of the economy and creating conditions for the application of modern technologies in production.

We are now at Rostselmash. We have taken a tour together with the head of this plant Konstantin Babkin and discussed what is going on here. Despite the difficulties, the dynamics are unmistakably positive if we are talking about promoting products on foreign markets.

Only just recently, no one wanted to buy our equipment in Russia, and now this equipment – both combines and tractors – is sold in 37 countries. In five years, if it goes the same way, according to the background materials I looked at, they will be selling in at least 60 countries.

I have also spoken about personnel. I just mentioned something at the videoconference with the Rostov Nuclear Power Station: 41 percent of Rostselmash employees have higher education and many of them in vocational areas.

Starting this year, a programme to improve labour productivity will be introduced in the regions. I call on the heads of all Russian regions to cooperate with both employers and employees.

Next. It is necessary to improve companies’ access to financing. Our Industrial Development Fund is hard at work. Its portfolio includes about 270 projects with 170 billion roubles of private investment in total; 35 new enterprises have opened with the support of the fund.

I have to say we often discuss – most often, probably – the problems, as Denis Manturov [Minister of Industry and Trade] knows all about. He is often justly criticised. But I have to say that the Fund under your leadership does satisfactory work, let us say, so as not to heap praise on anyone. As of today, the fund has approved 268 projects with 170 billion rubles of private investment in total. These projects receive 66 billion rubles in soft loans.

In general, as I have said, I believe that the Central Bank’s work is also satisfactory: it carefully follows the money movement, and the results are assessed positively. About 262 billion rubles were allocated from the federal budget to support the aviation industry, shipbuilding, radioelectronics and other industrial sectors.

At the same time, it is necessary to create greater opportunities to stimulate industrial growth at the regional level. The regions have the tools for this, including regional contracts, tax incentives, and direct support and subsidies. I am aware that many of our colleagues are doing these things.

All these tools need to be used competently. It is fundamentally important that the use of these opportunities does not restrict competition, but rather develop it, and that the effect of the application correspond to the strategic goals of developing the Russian regions and the country in general.

In order to expand the authority of the regions to ensure economic growth, I propose including funds to be allocated for the development of the economy into the model of the regional budget, that is, to consider them compulsory expenses by the regional authorities.

I also consider it necessary to work through special measures to support small manufacturing businesses, to reduce the risks of startup companies, and to encourage high-quality employment in the regions.

I am aware that the Central Bank has discussed improving the financial stability of micro- and small enterprises with the regions. We will focus today separately on the solutions that are proposed in this area.

In closing, I would like to note that businesses would grow and invest in upgrades and in opening new production sites only in places where they are met halfway, where they do not run into barriers, but are provided with convenient and comfortable operating conditions. This applies to a modern social atmosphere as well, which is important for employees and their families.

I want the regional and local authorities to focus on the need to resolve the key issues that plague industrialists in a timely and prompt manner, including the allocation of land plots, providing utility infrastructure, developing the road system, and commissioning new power capacity.

We have just toured the new Rostov airport. This is a good example, I believe: the infrastructure is in place, everything was done on schedule and with great workmanship. The areas necessary for future development have been set aside. All you have to do is get your hands dirty, and the results will come.

Just before our meeting, as I said, the fourth power unit of the Rostov NPP was commissioned. It is one of the largest power stations in southern Russia, which has huge potential for further economic growth in southern Russia and for providing a sustainable energy source to residential and social facilities. Once again, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this vast and important effort.

President of Russia Website Kremlin Moscow http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.enKorea.