The meeting was attended by Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Governor of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, Chairman of Alfa-Bank Board of Directors Pyotr Aven, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of SberBank German Gref, President and Chairman of VTB Bank Management Board Andrei Kostin, Chairman of Promsvyazbank Pyotr Fradkov, and Chairman of the State Development Corporation VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
Today, together with representatives of the Government’s economic bloc, senior executives from the Central Bank and leading financial institutions, we will discuss the situation in the banking sector in Russia and its performance in 2020 as well as immediate and future development plans.
I would like to note that the country's banking system has played a very important role in Russia’s coronavirus relief effort. A whole package of support tools that we provided to enterprises, companies in the real sector of the economy, and Russian families during this truly difficult time, naturally involved banks, and you all are perfectly aware of this.
I am referring to the restructuring of loans to individuals and legal entities, both under the anti-crisis package and banks' own programmes. The banks' own programmes probably did even more than anything else; you will have a chance to speak about this today.
The programme to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses was also expanded. Last year, SMEs additionally took out over 600 billion rubles on preferential terms, which means an extra 600 billion rubles has been injected into the sector.
To ensure companies’ uninterrupted work and support their teams, we launched a programme of write-off and interest-free loans for the payment of wages. We provided businesses with about half a trillion rubles under that programme.
We also provided soft loans worth 240 billion rubles for backbone enterprises – we held separate meetings for almost every industry – enterprises contracted to multiple suppliers, contractors and subcontractors and whose operations have a complex effect on the whole economy and the entire labour market.
Today, I expect to hear a detailed report on the efficiency of these measures to support the economy, implemented with the involvement of banks, and to find out how convenient they have proved for enterprises and organisations.
And, of course, I would like to note such an important and popular tool as easy-term mortgages with an interest rate of 6.5 percent. Launched with the support of the state, this programme not only helped many Russian families resolve their housing problems, but also supported the construction sector and gave a strong impetus to mortgage lending in general. In 2020, about 1.7 million families were able to obtain flats with the help of a mortgage, and this number exceeds 2019 levels by 400,000.
On the whole, the level of bank lending to the economy did not decrease during the crisis but, on the contrary, increased by about 11 percent last year.
As I have already said, state support measures have exerted substantial influence here. But I would also like to note important and popular regulatory decisions by the Central Bank of Russia. These decisions simplified requirements for the work of banks, while maintaining the reliability of the credit and financial system. They have allowed banks to act flexibly and in a targeted manner during this complicated period.
Taking into account the situation both with individual clients and with whole sectors of the real economy, we have been doing all this together with you.
At the same time, it is obvious that such anti-crisis and extraordinary solutions can certainly be only temporary. I would like to recall that lending support programmes also have a limited duration. In this connection, I would like to hear today the position of the Bank of Russia on how you plan to conduct subsequent work to ensure the stability and dynamics of lending.
I would like to add one more aspect which, in my opinion, is very important. It goes without saying that the overall easing of the monetary policy should help us to weather the crisis confidently, but it should also propel the Russian banking sector – and basically, this has already happened – into an entirely different state, into a state of relatively low interest rates.
Of course, it is the right and necessary trend when loans for business development and expansion and for the creation of new jobs become more accessible. However, I would like to point out that not only interest rates on loans but also deposit interest rates are decreasing. You are aware of this, and we are aware of this as well. Therefore, other forms of financial investment, such as the purchase of securities, are being more widely used, which bear greater risks than bank deposits.
We must protect the interests of those who invest their money in the securities market but are not professional investors. We must reduce the risk this entails for them. What we do not need is another case like the defrauded homebuyers, do you agree? I would like you to pay special attention to this, and I would like you to speak separately on this issue today.
And one more subject, in conclusion. Over the past few years, banking has become one of the most highly technological sectors of the Russian economy. It is now possible to get a loan, make payments and receive other services online at the majority of large banks, without going to them in person, which is very convenient.
The so-called ecosystems are being actively created, and modern cutting-edge solutions are being used at nearly every stage of the bank-client relationship in both traditional and new, forward-looking banking services.
These truly radical changes are paving the way to a transformation of the banking sector. However, this process not only brings new possibilities for business and people, but also additional risks. In order to prevent or reduce potential risks, we must promptly, or even proactively adjust the regulatory framework in the digital sphere, addressing the problem of cybersecurity and stipulating mechanisms that would ensure the safety of the clients’ deposits when banks invest their funds in non-core sectors.
I would like to remind the Government and the Central Bank that they must keep these issues under constant control while at the same time taking into account the changes that are taking place in the world and the direction of global economic trends. Today we will also discuss the practical approaches that must be implemented in this sphere.
Let us get down to work.