Russian businesses hoping for reforms under new govt

MOSCOW • Russian businesses are expecting wide-ranging reforms and are full of suggestions for a new government as President Vladimir Putin begins a fourth Kremlin term with promises to revitalise the country‘s economy.

While Moscow‘s relations with the West remain tense with US sanctions hurting the Russian economy like never before, the new government will be tasked to fulfil the ambitious goals Mr Putin presented to Parliament in March.

In his last major speech before winning the presidential election by a landslide, Mr Putin set a goal of halving Russia‘s “unacceptable” poverty rate in six years by investing in infrastructure, housing and health services.

He also promised a growth rate of 4 per cent as the Russian economy continues to stabilise following a recession that ran until 2016.

But Mr Putin did not explain how he aimed to achieve these goals and solve the predominantly structural problems holding back the country‘s growth.

Mr Oleg Kouzmin, an analyst at the Renaissance Capital investment bank, said business circles hope that “concrete reforms and development plans with real steps” would be outlined after Mr Putin‘s inauguration today.

REALITY CHECK

Vladimir Putin received a mandate from a people who were more or less satisfied with the way the country is run. The reforms in Russia are moving forward and will continue to progress in small steps so as not to risk unexpected consequences or instability.

MR CHRIS WEAFER, founder of consulting firm Macro Advisory, saying it “is not realistic” to hope for in-depth reforms.

Mr Kouzmin said it was hoped the new government will adopt measures to “address the weakness of the labour market and adverse demographic dynamic”, as well as weaknesses in education and health provision.

Investor support and financial development of the Russian regions would also be welcome, he added.

Mr Chris Weafer, founder of the consulting firm Macro Advisory, said it “is not realistic” to hope for in-depth reforms.

“Vladimir Putin received a mandate from a people who were more or less satisfied with the way the country is run,” he said.

“The reforms in Russia are moving forward and will continue to progress in small steps so as not to risk unexpected consequences or instability,” he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE