MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin called for tax breaks and improved investment conditions in Siberia and Russia’s Far East on Thursday, naming the nation’s business development toward the Pacific Ocean a national priority of the century.
Putin, addressing top officials in his annual State of the Nation address, ordered the government to set up a slew of tax discounts for energy and export industries in the Far East and Siberia, including a five-year grace period for income, land and property tax and discounted insurance premiums.
He said the state should also relax other business-related conditions, like building-permit applications and customs procedures, to encourage development and bring the regions to a level competitive with rivals in the Asia-Pacific area.
Putin excluded oil and gas companies from the proposed break on mineral extraction tax, however, saying the industries were already profitable.
Russia’s Finance Ministry has proposed to raise mineral extraction tax over the next two years to boost state revenue and drive up domestic fuel prices.
Troubled by a sluggish economic climate and a heavy dependence on oil revenue, Putin has already taken steps to encourage development of new industry in Russia’s lesser-populated regions to the east.
He visited South Korea last month to lobby for extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway and oil and gas pipelines across the Korean Peninsula, which would make Russia a major cargo and fuel carrier between East Asia and Europe.