Russian PM Identifies Main Government Tasks for Coming Years

The Russian government's main task in the coming years must be to concentrate all its efforts in the development of the manufacturing industry, agriculture and the service sphere. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov put this view forward at a regular government session on Thursday, where ministers discussed the results of Russia's development for the past three years and a draft programme for socio-economic reforms in the 2003-2005 period.

According to Kasyanov, the current rate of economic growth - 4% a year - is not bad. He said that GDP had grown by 20% over the three years and the population's income by 30%, while inflation had decreased and living standards improved. However, the premier pointed out that it had to be remembered that all this had been achieved thanks to the raw materials boom. He said that the oil, gas and metallurgical sectors had made more of a contribution to the economy's progress than all the other branches put together. In his opinion, the economy's main problems cannot be solved, if its structure remains lop-sided.

The premier suggested that the Russian economy would achieve very good results if a real breakthrough in terms of the manufacturing industry, the agricultural sector and the service sphere could be made. "If we were to attain growth rates of 7-8% in these sphere, then by 2007 we would guarantee completely different, much higher indices in the economy," he said. The prime minister stressed that the development of the manufacturing industry would be the government's main task in the medium-term.