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5 Dec, 2008 06:27

PM calls it straight on the economy in Q&A session

The Russian economy and the Governments efforts to reduce the impact of the global slowdown became a key part of the televised question and answer session between the Russian public and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Pensions and jobs were the most popular topics – the markets focused on the Government's plans for the broader economy.

Government spending will continue to favour banks – with up to $180 billion U.S. dollars in liquidity, and about half that sum for the real economy. The PM emphasised that banks would keep up lending to the real sectors.

“These are long-term credits to be given to enterprises in the real sector. With this, we will demand banks to reveal information about the volume of investment in three sectors of economy. What are these sectors?  They are agriculture, the military-industrial complex, and small and medium business.”

Small firms was another focus of the Q&A session, with plans to cut taxes from 15 to as low as 5%, while encouraging micro financing.  Roger Munnings, Chairman of KPMG Global energy says the key issue is how many people will take up the opportunity to become small businessmen.

“Whether people will be willing to take the risk of starting their own businesses is, I suppose, the big question. But I think if the government comes forward and supports that part of the economy in the way they’ve supported other parts of the economy to date, then at least that gives some stimulus to it.”

But as many questions reflected – it's now a race against time as the government moves to support the economy while the global outlook darkens.

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