The conversation of President Vladimir Putin with Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatyev focused on the present status of the Russian banking system, the rouble exchange rate and the obtaining situation with inflation.
"The banking sector development was quite successful last year," Ignatyev informed the head of state. "All the key components of the banking system - assets, capital, loans - were growing steadily, even faster than the GDP." The banking system is increasing its role in economic development, he went on to say.
According to Ignatyev, a number of bills are expedient to adopt now, including the currency regulation and control bill, which would "provide for a further liberalization of currency regulation." Ignatyev believes that this law will help, in a couple of years, to make the rouble fully convertible, which the president has mentioned in his state-of-the-nation address.
At the same time, Ignatyev deems it important for the Central Bank to further consolidate bank supervision. "It is important that people have more trust in Russian banks, and that the banks take a more active part in the process of economic development," he added.
Ignatyev also informed Putin on the current status of the national currency.
"The consolidation of the rouble is to reach 4 to 6 percent on the whole this year," he said. This indicator reached 3 percent in the first few months of 2003, which, according to Ignatyev, is a reason for optimism.
Speaking of inflation, Ignatyev noted that "it keeps going down, although not as fast as we want. Inflation amounted to 6.3 percent in the first few months of 2003, against 6.6 percent in the same period of last year.
According to him, an inflation of 10 to 12 percent is a realistic goal for this year.