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Out-bound Putin hopeful of economic upswing

Putin believes Russia on economic upswing; plans to step down in 2008 when term ends.

October 30, 2006

Come 2008, and it will be the end of an era for the Russian economy. With Russia stepping into an age of economic upswing, the man whose efforts are starting to bear fruit is all set to step down.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear on Wednesday that he would step down when his term ends in year 2008. This, he said, would be only after taking Russia's economy to new heights. Addressing the nation, he said that he will be able to leave office knowing that everything will be fine.

Putin showered praise on the nationís growth on the economic front. According to statistics, the Russian economy has grown around 7 percent annually of late. Spending on the industrial front has zoomed, inflation has been kept under check and is expected to dive to 8 per cent by the year-end. And, significantly, a major chink of foreign debt has been repaid.

Reiterating that the success or failure of any country depends on its economy, Putin said that the average Russian growth rate of 7 per cent compared favourably with growth of 1 per cent to 2 per cent in Europe.

Before he steps down, Putin seems to have lined up plans for economic diversification and that is seen as Russia's main goal in the next ten years. Russia today is also the world's largest fuel exporter.

Listing out priority areas, Putin said he would want more spending in the fields of aviation, auto and defence. Exhorting aircraft manufacturers in the country to accelerate consolidation of the industry if it is to compete with global players, he urged the creation of a state- owned holding company to oversee revival of an industry. The aircraft making industry in the country currently employs around 500,000 people.

Russia will see not less that 2 million cars being produced annually in a few years, Putin said. On the defence front, the President said defence spending would go up to $30 billion next year. He also called for better environmental protection in Russia's key timber industry, and said export tariffs should rise.

Meanwhile, with the President going ga ga over the economic policies of the government, foreign investors have raised concern over the recent increase in murders, including that of central banker Andrei Kozlov. Putin, however, brushed away such concern saying that contract killings are fast coming down.


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