Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday pledged 100 billion rubles ($3.3 billion) in hi-tech investment by the national development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) by the yearend to boost Russia's modernization drive.
"I hope that financing from the development institution VEB may reach 100 billion rubles and we have preserved 10 billion rubles [$330 million] through government sources directly from the federal budget," Putin told university students in the Volga River city of Cheboksary.
Russia is aiming to modernize its economy by promoting hi-tech industries and services to reduce dependence on the energy sector and switch to a knowledge-based, innovative economy.
Speaking on students' day, Putin said the Russian government would continue to fund investments intended to stimulate small and medium businesses to focus on hi-tech development, seen as crucial to the country's exit from a commodity-based economy.
The premier said the government had spent 10.5 billion rubles ($350 million) in budget funds on this effort in 2009, while VEB provided 40 billion rubles ($1.3 billion).
CHEBOKSARY, January 25 (RIA Novosti)