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15 Feb, 2008 18:21

Medvedev reveals economic plan

The favourite to become Russia's next President, Dmitry Medvedev, says his most important goal if elected will be to harmonise freedom with the rule of law. The First Deputy Prime Minister revealed his four-year economic development plan at a forum in Rus

Dotting the i's
Faithful to Putin policy
Most precious resource
Business community reaction

Dotting the i's

Medvedev focused on four major areas for Russia to develop in the next four years – institutions, infrastructure, innovation and investment.

“A week ago the president named the main goal for development of the country to the year 2020. That’s the construction of the society which increases living standards and gives equal opportunities for one’s talents and capabilities. Besides, it’s the development of an economy of the innovation type, as well as a radical increase of its effectiveness and also the forming of the wide middle class. These orientations are very ambitious but in my view very realistic,” said Medvedev.

The Presidential hopeful once again named corruption as “the most serous disease” of Russian society and called for a national anti-corruption plan to be drawn up. First of all, “one has to start from himself – officials, policemen, judges”, which is key for “citizens feeling masters of their country” and for defending “their honour, dignity and safety”.

Faithful to Putin policy

Medvedev said ploughing ahead with legal and tax reforms, fighting against corruption and lowering the role of state in the economy would become his priorities, should he take over the Kremlin.

He vowed to stay faithful to President Putin's economic policy.

Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to stick with it. Russia has become the world’s seventh largest economy, with annual growth topping 6.5 percent during Putin’s tenure.

Medvedev boasted of accumulating hard-currency reserves, settling foreign debt and slashing poverty. But as president, he would face several economic challenges, according to Russia’s Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin:

“It’s first and foremost the legal system, the ability to defend private property rights. I believe that making these issues a priority is perfectly justified. We have not really succeeded in solving this problem during Putin’s presidency”.

Most precious resource

Economists warn Russia is still highly vulnerable to commodity-price fluctuations. To overcome that, Medvedev proposed investing in what he says is Russia’s most precious resource: its people.

“At this stage of historical development, the decisive factor of success is the behaviour of each and every citizen, the lifestyle of every family, the liberty of self-realisation. And let me repeat the words of the president, investment in human resources is our long-term national priority,” Medvedev stated.

Business community reaction

The business community called the plan timely and detailed.

“We're moving from the economy of raw materials and oil, the economy where the government was mostly commanding, to that of the private initiative, competition and innovation,” Boris Titov, Chairman of All-Russia Business Forum, noted.

Tom Mundy, equity strategist from Renaissance Capital, says the key issues Medvedev touched on could lead to increased investment.

“At the moment we are dealing only with rhetoric because it is too early to say whether or not any of what Dmitry Medvedev talks about is actually going to happen. But at this stage the rhetoric is quite good. At this stage in transition what he is talking about is exactly what we should want,” Tom Mundy added.

And ‘human resources’ were just the buzz words Russian business wanted to hear:

“I was really happy to hear about the importance of an individual in strengthening Russia’s economy. It really hits the right spot of every business owner in the country. I was really glad to hear about the need to invest into Russia’s human capital,” Evgeny Chichvarkin, the president of Evroset company, said.

Medvedev was clear that defending freedom and private property would become the main focal points of his administration, his liberal views were welcomed both in Russia and abroad. But whether he can turn an impressive pre-election speech into real-life economic policies remains to be seen.

To watch the full address of Dmitry Medvedev, please, follow link.