Vladimir Putin’s speech at the SPIEF plenary session was mainly limited to the internal agenda. The President noted the return of the economy to the pre-crisis level – despite the increased unemployment and falling incomes of the population. These phenomena, however, are only partly caused by the coronavirus crisis and are rather systemic, the president admitted. The recipe for recovery is mainly associated with regional development – the government, in addition to financial assistance and de facto deregulation, will have to take care of the problem regions. The involvement of large business in the launch of an investment boom was not discussed this time, while small companies were promised new support measures – in the hope of whitewashing the sector and increasing budget revenues.

Speaking at the plenary session of SPIEF-2021, Vladimir Putin emphasized that after a forced break, it was in Russia that “the first major international business event” was taking place, the participants of which could communicate both using technology and live. The President noted the importance of international cooperation, but in general he devoted his speech to the issues of the domestic business agenda.

He stated that the national economy is already approaching its pre-crisis level, however, problems persist – “unemployment has increased and real incomes have fallen.” The authorities see the reason for these phenomena not so much in the consequences of the pandemic as in the structural problems of the economy. It is proposed to solve them directly in the regions – both the presidential envoys in the federal districts and the government will be engaged in this work. The latter will de facto perform curatorial functions in relation to problem subjects. “The work of the economic block of the Cabinet of Ministers will also be assessed by the dynamics of the situation in those regions where there are still problems with the business and investment climate. Please, there is no need to pretend that this does not concern the federal authorities, ”Vladimir Putin warned the ministers sitting in the hall.

In particular, the government will have to tackle more closely the programs to promote employment in regions with high unemployment. By 2024, it is prescribed to provide predictable and comfortable regimes for private capital investments and the launch of new investment projects in each region.

In the future, each region should offer an algorithm of actions that is understandable to investors – from a business idea to the opening of production. A new mechanism of infrastructure loans that can be taken at a rate of up to 3% was named as sources of financing available to the regions – a total of 500 billion rubles were promised for such projects. Note that we are talking about relatively small investment projects, the President did not speak about additional incentives for investments by big business yesterday (however, there were no such discussions at other sessions of the SPIEF).

The president found new support measures for small and medium-sized businesses. To increase the availability of financing, the mechanism of “umbrella” guarantees of the SME Corporation for loans from partner banks will start working this year. It is expected that this will provide the sector with at least RUB 600 billion. until 2024. Also, small companies are promised to compensate the bank commission on payments for the sale of goods and services to individuals by the end of 2021 – during this time, all systemically important banks will connect to the free system of fast payments.

Tax support is promised to be more targeted – we are talking about growing catering companies that are moving from a simplified to a general tax regime. Restaurateurs with revenues of up to 2 billion rubles. per year will be exempt from VAT, and with a staff of up to 1.5 thousand people – they will retain a reduced rate of insurance premiums. The result of such indulgences should be “whitewashing” of the business. “I think the interested parties understand what this is about: all checks through the cashier, hiring workers“ white ”and the purchase of goods also“ white ”, through the cashier,” the president said. Earlier, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov spoke about the tendency of small businesses to go into the shadows for the sake of increasing efficiency. Non-tax exemptions are associated with an increase in the mandatory share of purchases of state-owned companies from SMEs from the current 20% to 25%, as well as with a decrease in excessive antimonopoly control – FAS checks will be canceled for companies with revenues of less than 800 million rubles. against the current threshold of 400 million rubles.

Diana Galieva