“State capitalism is not our goal,” Vladimir Putin said in his first big speech on the economy since his return to the Kremlin, managing to leave investors at Russia’s premier business forum little wiser as to how serious he is about selling state assets.
Privatisation has come to the fore as Russia’s most divisive policy issue since Putin, elected in March to a third term as president after four years as prime minister, named a new government last month.
Although dire markets preclude major deals that would reduce the state’s 50 percent share in Russia’s $1.8 trillion economy at the moment, the privatisation debate has caused a power realignment that could have far-reaching consequences.
The kicker to Putin’s state capitalism quote was that private-sector monopolies should not replace state ones – a dig at the rushed sell-offs of the 1990s that handed the Soviet Union’s industrial legacy to a new breed of industrial oligarch.
“Without healthy competition, a market economy shows a tendency to decay that is no less pronounced than the command-administrative system,” Putin said on Thursday.
OK, so he’s not really a champion of free market competition.
– Lee Adler