Putin on new quality of economic growth in Russia

10.05.06

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Alexander Yurov)

President Vladimir Putin began his state of the nation address to parliament
by referring to his address three years ago, in which he set the goal of
doubling GDP within a decade. The president has spoken of the issue more
than once since then, but this year he for the first time presented it as an
objective whose attainment was almost assured.

"On the whole, we have been successful in tackling this challenge" he said.
"The average annual growth rate in the past three years was 7%." This means
that Russia can double GDP by the set deadline.

The president said the country's new objective was to spur economic
progress, which calls for creating equal conditions for business and
improving the macroeconomic situation. Putin said increasing state
investments was an important but not the core goal and called for learning
to choose the right priorities. He said this required gaining technological
advantages over Russia's main rivals.

Putin named several mining sectors where the country has ensured these
advantages. His address is expected to give a new impetus to the development
of the aerospace, aircraft, power generation and communications sectors.

He said Russia was capable of becoming the leader in nanotechnologies.
(Nanotechnology is any technology that exploits phenomena and structures
that can only occur at the nanometer scale, which is the scale of several
atoms and small molecules.)

The president said it was necessary to spur the development of high-tech
sectors and called on the government to encourage the acquisition of high
technologies abroad and to make maximum use of Russia's geographic situation
for the development of all types of communications.

The sectors he praised are the pride of Russians. The world's first man in
space was Russian, and the country holds the world record in the duration of
manned flights. It is also participating in the International Space Station
project. The president said the aerospace sector could create a reliable
defense shield for the country and develop technologies to predict natural
disasters. He spotlighted the need to increase investments into the sector,
said the creation of aircraft holdings was taking too long, and called for
attaining this objective as soon as possible.

Putin praised energy companies as the drivers of economic progress and the
sector's achievements, saying that energy giant Gazprom had become the
world's third largest company in terms of capitalization. But he also
mentioned the need to use energy resources more efficiently and to
facilitate promising power generation sectors, notably hydro and nuclear
generation.

For the first time in years, the president spoke about reforms not as an end
goal. This time the Russian leader discussed state investments and the state
as a crucial partner that should devise the policy of progress for the
entire economy and its strategic sectors, and improve the living standards
of the people. -0-