President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Repik.
President of Delovaya Rossiya Alexei Repik: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: I can see here that the organisation has just marked 20 years.
Alexei Repik: That is correct. Twenty years have gone by just like that. As you rightly noted, this year on December 10, Delovaya Rossiya marked its 20th anniversary. The Ministry of Justice registered the organisation on that day. We have come a long way since then.
Vladimir Putin: How many members do you have right now?
Alexei Repik: The organisation currently unites more than 7,000 entrepreneurs, mainly representatives of private non-commodity businesses. I hope that we can rely on such companies in our transition to a new model of economic growth, thus helping to improve the welfare of our citizens, fulfilling all the presidential executive orders and achieving the national goals you set.
I would like to thank my colleagues in Delovaya Rossiya for their tireless work and for being the driving force for important changes, including national entrepreneurial initiatives that we spoke about not so long ago, during the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Supervisory Board meeting, and the national technology initiative. But it was your support that made it happen.
Vladimir Putin: It was your active effort.
Alexei Repik: Our effort actually met with a serious response. As an example, I would like to mention our most recent forum that was held before COVID-19, in February 2019. You issued a series of instructions, and a great number of proposals were almost immediately implemented. New families that had to sell their only home to improve their living situation were exempt from personal income tax. Regions started working on the tax rebate from investment. There are still adjustments to make here and there – and I will speak about this in more detail today.
The profit tax exemption for educational organisations and healthcare providers has been extended. The donation procedure has been simplified. Payment systems have lowered their acquiring fees. They tried to bump the fees up again, but I think that we will still be able to fix it.
By the way, simultaneous administrative action against a legal entity and its worker for the same violation has been removed from the new version of the Code of Administrative Offenses. In fact, I can say that there has been much progress.
Vladimir Putin: You know, this is not the first time many of these matters have been raised. This is why it is so important for the state to keep up the dialogue with representatives of the business community. Of course, it is essential not only that we engage in dialogue, but also that both sides adequately contribute to it, and overall, we have been quite successful on this front.
Alexei Repik: Mr President, thank you very much for your assessment. First, taking this opportunity, I would like to invite you to Delovaya Rossiya’s annual forum. We usually hold it in early February, so in early February 2022 there will be a very packed agenda.
We had to take a break in 2020 and in 2021, because of the pandemic, but I do think that if you can find an opportunity to take part in the forum in person, despite your very busy schedule, this will guarantee the event’s success. We have already framed the forum’s agenda by singling out the main blocks.
Vladimir Putin: I will try to make it. Attending your events has always been a very interesting experience for me, because far from routine events, these forums are about substance and are held in a business-like manner.
Alexei Repik: Yes, Mr President. In fact, we have already articulated a whole range of ideas. If you will allow me, I will briefly outline the discussion topics for the forum that enjoy the largest support among businesses.
Vladimir Putin: Could you simply list them, so that we can discuss them later?
Alexei Repik: Of course. I will just name them, as you have asked. The first one deals with the performance of the so-called regulatory guillotine. Much has been done in this regard, you know. The Government phased out more than 12,000 old, inadequate instruments and adopted 447 to replace them. These efforts are headed in the right direction. When this is the case, one always feels compelled to aim even higher. We would like to expand this effort to cover departmental letters and excessive reporting. There are topics where this approach is especially effective.
Another block of issues relates to coordination efforts with regulators. In this field, the Federal Taxation Service brilliantly launched a project on consultations, substantiated opinions and explanations, which enables investors to inquire about future developments, get an opinion and proceed from there.
If we succeed in expanding this pilot project to cover other agencies as well… We are proactively working together with the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, which is currently a key structure when it comes to launching new investment projects, and we got a lot of help from the senior officials. This also applies to the Federal Customs Service. If we get a chance to build on this initiative…
Vladimir Putin: Every agency is special in its own way, but this does preclude them from being guided by shared approaches.
Alexei Repik: Investment incentives are probably the largest segment.
The economy is now posting high interest rates. Unfortunately, this is so, and we have to activate new lending mechanisms and to provide assistance. Today, I have already mentioned investment tax deductions and tax loans. By the way, I would like to thank the Government, which provided businesses with tax deferrals worth almost 55 billion rubles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps we should now talk about investment incentives, rather than only efforts to bail out businesses. It should be noted that the Russian economy probably coped with this tremendous stress and blow better than most, if not all, other economies.
Vladimir Putin: This is correct. According to the Central Bank, investment volumes did not subside.
Alexei Repik: They did not subside. But you see, we have to provide regions and sectors with diverse and wide-ranging investment. It appears that we should help those regions which lack well-balanced budgets and reimburse them for part of the federal budget’s revenue shortfalls.
Vladimir Putin: When I mentioned the Central Bank, I mostly meant lending volumes, of course. But, to be honest, investment levels…
Alexei Repik: Corporate lending plans have now become more expensive, and we all realise this. This is probably linked with inflation that we import. Some of our foreign colleagues are not behaving very responsibly, they are printing money and saturating the economy with it.
Vladimir Putin: We were even forced to implement some measures, as well, and to issue a small amount of money. What is to be done? But we did this much more prudently.
Alexei Repik: This is absolutely correct. But I hope that we will be able to implement our most ambitious projects in these situations. And now, I would like to show you some of them and to discuss them, and many new projects can be launched. Although they may not be the largest projects, they are important for various entities and regions of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin: This is how it will be.
Alexei Repik: Thank you very much.