Transition economies in the post-industrial world: challenges of the decade

On March 20-21, 2006, in the Academy of National Economy under the Government of the Russian Federation the international conference named ”Transition economies in the post-industrial world: challenges of the decade” was held.

The conference was timed to the 15th anniversary of the Institute of economy in transition. The main subjects discussed in the discussions became the political economy of post-industrial transformation; issues of tax reform, in particular, the future of indirect taxes, including VAT and sales tax; prospects for the legitimization of the privatization and the development of property rights; the municipal reform; institutional reforms in agriculture; prospects of cluster policy in the long-term strategy of Russia. Special attention was paid to the issues of human capital development, first of all, education, new technologies in education, tendencies of development of business education.

At the opening the conference Director of the Institute for the Economy in Transition, Yegor Gaidar, Rector of Academy of national economy under the Government of Russia Vladimir Mau, academician of RAS, Professor of the Academy of national economy Abel Aganbegyan addressed the participants of the forum with greetings. “We first turn to the debate not so much about the transition, but of the modern, post-industrial economy, its issues and challenges“,- said Vladimir Mau. As the main condition for sustainable growth of the Russian economy, he called the predictability of economic policy of the authorities.

Vice-Premier of RF Government Alexander Zhukov in his speech at the conference stated that one of the most important tasks is to determine the further strategy of development of benchmarks for the Russian economy. He stressed that Russia will continue to increase in the export of raw materials and in the next decade will remain an important supplier of oil and gas for foreign markets. But it mustn't be the limit. We have to use other competitive advantages of Russia, including the experience gained in the field of high technologies said Alexander Zhukov.

Minister of education and science of Russian Federation Andrey Fursenko clarified the essence of the national project in education. In his opinion, it consists of creating a catalyst for systemic change in education and building a society based on knowledge. Among the major innovations in the field of human capital development, he called the openness of the education system and the embedding of public institutions in the development of this system; the orientation of education not at the teacher but at the student and also at the person, who needs this student; the transition from the logic of bestowal debts to the logic of financing the system of education according to the results.

Russian Presidential aide Igor Shuvalov told the audience about how the priority national projects were born. According to him, during the development of the national projects it was decided to put on human capital, first of all, on development of a person without a roof over the head impossible to live and create. You must lead a healthy lifestyle and have the ability to treat your health and maintain the health of your family members, but you must be able to professionally generate throughout the life so that your skills might keep up to those challenges that economic situation throws to us all the time.

Chairman of the Russian audit chamber Sergei Stepashin said that currently in the country the stage of recovery growth has ended and mechanisms for the transition to economic growth investment type, embarked on the capitalization of global competitive advantages of the country's energy potential and transcontinental transit started to develop. He noted, however, that the critical mass of factors that can lead to a significant slowdown of economic growth increases. Among those factors he called the technological backwardness of the Russian economy, the degradation of the productive infrastructure and social sphere, a low level of innovation activity. Particularly, Sergey Stepashin noted the results of privatization, in which there was a giant underestimation of national riches of the country, its actual impairment.

Meanwhile, Anatoly Chubais noted that the goal of tripling the volume of investments is extreme and is a charge for senseless three-year struggle around the reform of the power. Chairman of the management Board of RAO UES of Russia stated that the energy is necessary to attract tens of billions of dollars in private investment and the energy sector, in which the state intends to retain control will, respectively, require state investment.

First Deputy Chairman of the RF Central Bank Alexey Ulyukaev emphasized in his speech that in terms of exports Russia actually does not depend on the real exchange rate of the rouble, but the domestic enterprises from strengthening even win. Only part of them suffers from appreciation, he said. But we cannot forget that this fact promotes involvement in the Russian economy to the foreign direct investment. And he asked to stop spreading myths about the harmfulness of the ruble appreciation. As the mechanisms used by the RF Central Bank to fight inflation, Ulyukayev called the pricing policy and interest rate regulations. He also proposed to send to the Stabilization Fund, along with the oil money excess profit from the sale of oil products and gas.

The head of the Antimonopoly service Igor Artemyev has stopped on problems of Russian legislation, in particular antitrust. The main threat to the development of lawmaking he sees in the growth of bureaucracy. Most importantly, with what you have to start any reform, according to Igor Artemyev, is the rejection of excessive administrative control over business. The reforms and legislative acts, which are already in force, for example, the Federal law on administrative offences dated 21 March 2005, has released 90% of the business out of our control.

Former Minister of economy of the Russian Federation Yevgeny Yasin said that the government stopped the pension reform, reforms in health and education, which could give a new trigger for modernization. He stressed the weakness of the state with a strong Executive power, which hinders the development of the economy and the strengthening of the influence of the industrial sector growth. Even if you have a lot of money, and you stop the forces that have driven forward the economy, the money will not help you, noticed economist.

According to Abel Aganbegyan Russia cannot increase export volumes as it was in 2001-2003. Simultaneously according to his estimates world oil prices in the coming months will decline and according to long-term forecasts this will last in the coming years.
The domestic demand is one of the most important factors of growth in recent years, and it will not be able to support the domestic industry. To change the situation, academician Aganbegyan proposes to conduct large-scale renewal of the basic funds of industry. Source for investment in industry, in his opinion, should be the foreign currency loans of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, designed exclusively for the import of machines and equipment.

The plenary sessions also attended by the Deputy UN Secretary-General Kalman Mizsei, Director of the Center for global studies, former Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs and international trade of Canada, Gordon Smith, Director of the Center for socio-economic research  Poland Marek Dabrowski, Minister of health and social development Mikhail Zurabov and others. In total, the conference was attended by over 600 scientists, experts and specialists from Russia, CIS and foreign countries; its work was covered by more than 50 media representatives.