AFP - Thursday, May 28
MOSCOW (AFP) - - Russia must focus on technology and innovation to modernize its economy or risk falling behind other world powers, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
"We need to move forward, to put the economy on an innovative track," Putin told an audience of business people in Moscow.
"Otherwise, doing nothing, we will simply preserve the current not very effective model which depends very much on external factors... and will continue to lag behind the world's leading economies."
Putin's comments echoed the criticism of many analysts who say Russia is overly dependent on the export of natural resources, especially oil and gas, leaving it susceptible to sudden drops in commodities prices. The Russian economy has been hit hard amid the global economic crisis, which has seen oil prices plummet from over 147 dollars a barrel last summer to currently around 60 dollars.
Putin said that despite budget cuts, the state would spend over 300 billion rubles (9.6 billion dollars, 6.9 billion euros) in 2009 to support high-tech sectors like aviation, atomic energy, space and electronics. He argued that Russia had "serious competitive advantages" in sectors like space, saying that the country could increase its share of commercial space launches from 40 percent to around 50 percent.
The prime minister also called on business to be more far-sighted in its approach to innovation. "In the business sphere, the status of the innovator and the inventor must be raised.... A culture of innovation needs to be created," Putin said.