MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president said Thursday the nation's economy grew 6.9% in 2006, up 0.5% on last year, highlighted other figures and praised the government's performance.
Speaking following a cabinet session, Vladimir Putin said: "Economic growth hit 6.9% on 6.4% last year. We are keeping to schedule in our long-term plans."
Putin said the stock exchange index grew 65%. "This is one of the highest indices in the world," he said, adding that basic welfare indicators were also favorable.
Household incomes grew 11.5%, and pensions were raised by 5.3% in real terms, he said.
Household real disposable money incomes in Russia reached 7.411.8 trillion rubles ($274 billion) and household savings totaled 761.3 billion rubles ($28 billion) as of July 1, 2006, according the Federal State Statistics Service.
Average gross payrolls in June stood at 10,975 rubles ($407) for the month, up 25.6% on June 2005.
Under Russia's economic forecast for 2007 and forecast parameters until 2009, prepared by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and approved by the government, household incomes are expected to rise 10.2% in 2007, 8.9% in 2008 and 8.2% in 2009, and real wages will grow 11%, 8.6% and 7.4% respectively.
The forecast was prepared on the basis of projected average annual prices for Urals crude at $61 per barrel in 2007, $54 in 2008 and $48 in 2009.
Urals crude is currently trading at around $58 per barrel.
Putin added that fixed capital investment, both domestic and foreign, increased considerably, and that direct investment rose by 55.5%.
"The government has played a central role in ensuring the sustainable development of the economy and the welfare sector," the president said, adding he hoped brisk growth would last into next year.
Russia's fixed capital investment domestically and abroad is expected to increase by 28% in 2006, to $158.5 billion, rising to $195.8 billion in 2007, and $264.9 billion by 2009, according to Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.
Foreign direct investment in Russia was $20.8 billion, or 2.5% of the gross domestic product, in the first nine months of 2006, an almost eight-fold increase from 2000, the minister said in October.
Other achievements this year highlighted by the president include the completion of bilateral talks on accession to the global trade body, the World Trade Organization (WTO), with main partners, the United States among them.
Russia has yet to sign bilateral WTO protocols with Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica. The economics ministry expects to complete multilateral talks by mid-2007.
Putin also cited the creation of the United Aircraft Building Corporation (UABC) as another example of progress. The UABC was set up to consolidate the country's main aircraft construction assets and to raise the national aircraft industry's competitiveness, especially ahead of Russia's accession to the WTO.
A new state-run Development Bank, which will begin work in the second half of 2007, is a project designed as the main financial tool of state support for struggling small businesses, high-tech projects and non-mineral exports, and will thereby diversify an economy too reliant on energy exports, Putin said.
Russia's Stabilization Fund, set up to accumulate windfall oil revenues, which have been a driving force behind the brisk economic performance, has now hit $83.2 billion as of December 1 and foreign currency and gold reserves have reached $299 billion.
"All this allows us to look to next year with confidence and make new plans to promote economic growth, raise the country's potential and the well-being of our citizens," Putin said.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.