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9 Jun, 2008 05:11

Russian Deputy PM calls for end to ‘energy trap’

Russia should get rid of “lagging” psychology and find a way out of the “energy trap”. They are two of the five main problems Russia needs to resolve in the coming years, according to Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuva

First, Russia should not get drawn into economic competition with the West: “The intention to keep up with the West and even to outdo it has been the fixed idea of the Russian economy, which dooms us to unsuccessful copying and to inevitably lagging behind,” he said

Second, to get out of the energy trap Russia “should change management in the industry based on advanced world standards”.

Shuvalov noted that the “extensive development of Russia’s energy has resulted in one of the world’s biggest energy systems becoming one of the most inefficient”.

In the third place, the country needs to make up for its workforce’s insufficient skills.

“People are the major source of social and economic development. Today we are facing the need of the overwhelming renewal of skilled workers and bringing up new highly qualified specialists,” Shuvalov said.

He said the nation’s health should become Russia’s priority as well.

“The situation in the public health sphere is catastrophic. And we are talking here not only about the state of health protection in the country but about people’s attitude to their own health,” Shuvalov said, adding that “over the last 20 years the number of smokers has doubled – against the background of shrinking population”.

Finally, to make the economy viable the state should abstain from excessive interfering into it, as well as other spheres of life. At the same time Shuvalov added that “in an innovative society excessive public influence is as dangerous as its lack”.