Source Pravda.Ru

In looking ahead, Putin notes Gazprom's special role in economy

Vladimir Putin outlined the first steps that he plans for his second term in a live televised broadcast from his campaign headquarters overnight Sunday. The Russian chief emphasized the need to continue reforming the tax system and restructuring the social monopolies. But the president called for particular restraint in relation to Gazprom. 'Gazprom,' he said, 'is to a significant extent the foundation of our economic growth. Its gas is sold in Russia, for both ordinary and industrial uses, at less than cost. The growth of all the other economic spheres rests on Gazprom.' Putin stressed the importance of meeting the needs of the domestic market for gas and assuring access to the pipeline network of independent producers as well as guaranteeing transparency in connection with Gazprom stock. In general, relations with business, the president said, must be rooted in stability, transparency and legality.

On the social welfare front, Putin said special attention would be given to problems in the pension system, and he promised 'clear steps to guarantee provision of quality services in the areas of health and education.'

In reply to reporters who asked what he planned to do four years from now, Putin declared: 'I haven't even started work yet, and you are already putting me out to pasture.' He said his priority was concentrating on the work of the next four years and setting the tempo and rhythm for the administration and government. The president also said: 'The year 2008 will not be an easy one, and we have to think that through.' 'But the more we accomplish in the next four years, the easier 2008 will be,' Putin said. 'It's possible that 2008 will be hot politically, but we are not going to leave society at the edge of governmental breakdown.'