Russian exporters of metals and other big firms should take the opportunity of an improved economy to invest more for the good of the country, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, a day after Nornickel paid a record environmental fine.
Putin did not mention any companies by name, their dividends or investment projects, but he was speaking after metals miner Nornickel paid a $2 billion fine for an Arctic fuel spill.
“In our country and all over the world, we see the serious problems faced by companies which in the pursuit of short-term results forget about their long-term work. The costs of solving these problems and overcoming their consequences are sometimes many times greater than the imaginary savings,” Putin said.
Global market conditions have improved in recent months for steel, copper, nickel and fertilisers, and this will support Russian producers’ financial results this year, Putin told a meeting with Russian businessmen.
“This means that a solid investment resource will be formed. It is important for this resource to work for the development of Russia, for the development of its economy, for the creation of new production facilities and modern jobs,” he said.
Putin asked Russia’s tax service to provide a detailed report to him each quarter about the profits of Russia’s largest companies and whether they are being invested in projects inside the country, though companies and their shareholders are free to decide on their investment plans.
“It’s safer and more secure here,” Putin said, adding that the government should create conditions which would make it more effective for companies to spend money not on dividend payments, but on development of their own business in Russia.
Priority should be given to projects which support people’s health and wellbeing, and increase their real income, he said.
The size of Nornickel’s penalty – by far the biggest environmental fine in Russia – sent a message to Russian companies to modernise their production, officials have said.
(By Polina Devitt; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Elaine Hardcastle)