A year of accidental growth

It does not seem to be very difficult to answer the question whether the year of 2000 was successful for the Russian economy. It would be enough to look at the figures: a 10-percent growth in industrial production and a 7.5-percent rise in the GDP (according to the State Statistics Committee). The inflation rate decreased almost 1.5 times this year, 20.5 percent compared to 36.5 percent last year, while the real income of the population rose 21.9 percent over the past 11 months. Successes are evident in the budget and financial sphere. Russia's gold and hard currency reserves increased 2.3 times, i.e. from $12.5bn to $28.3bn (as of December 22). The Russian rouble has strengthened in real terms. Its rate against the US dollar declined by 4.1 percent only, which means a more than 12-percent weakening of the American national currency. Long-term governmental bonds' yield dropped from 70-75 to 25-26 percent. According to preliminary estimations, the primary surplus amounts to about 6 percent of the GDP, while the total surplus will come to approximately 3 percent. And it is here that the first problem appears. The rates of economic and industrial growth have been showing, more and more distinctly, a slackening tendency. This means that one of the main growth stimulators, the effect of the four-time rouble devaluation in 1998, has been finally exhausted, and no new stimulus can be seen. Actually, the Cabinet of Ministers did very little in the first six months of 2000. Much time was wasted on the presidential election, the formation of the "new" government and the discussion of a new program. Even in those spheres where the government began implementing reforms, it made only half-steps. In such a sphere as natural monopolies' reformation, even a concept was not approved. Meanwhile, the period of favourable external conditions seem to be coming to an end. Thus, this year's achievements of the government, accidental in a way, can hardly be considered as a reason for an optimistic outlook. Most of the problems, which have been accumulated for years, remain unsolved. Ways how to settle them are well known, and we can hope that authorities will have enough political will to built at least a basis for their settlement. Most experts believe that Russia may not have such a chance in the next decade, RBC reports.