The Ministry for Economic Development of Russia proposes to increase the number of credits for small and medium enterprises.

Stagnation of Russian economic is a fact admitted by many experts and politicians. There are different reasons to explain the nature of this phenomenon: from external (international financial crisis) to internal (inefficiency of resource-based economy). The authorities of the country see the root of the problem outside the country, whereas international experts more often advise to pay attention to internal structure of the economy. Thus, international rating agency Standard & Poor’s (subsidiary company of McGraw-Hill Corporation, researching analytical investigation of financial market) came to conclusion that modern Russian economic model, based upon government-owned major corporations and monopolies, has ceased to be effective, and only refocusing of country economics towards small and medium enterprises (SME) may change the situation.

Development of this economy sector will not only conduce the creating of new vacancies, but also will favourably influence on investment climate, having reduced the outflow of funds from the country. It seems that authorities of the country realize the necessity of reforms in this field. Thus, on the international investment forum in Sochi the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev declared that despite the difficulties, the state intended to continue the support of small companies, mainly manufacturing and investment companies. The fixed budget has about 70 billion rubles for these purposes.

The Ministry for Economic Development (MED) has offered measures for supporting SME. One of the top targets that MED sets, is improvement of availability of credit provision for SME.

The government proposes to deposit from the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) 100 billion rubles during several years in Bank for Foreign Economic Activity at annual interest 5,25% in order that the BFEA could extend a credit for commercial banks, working with small and medium enterprises at annual interest 6,25% . At the same time the banks are obliged to cut rates for SME to 10% per annum and to reduce terms of the credit to 7 years maximum. By the way, nowadays the rate for medium enterprise equals 13,5% per annum, and for small varies from 14,5 to 16-17%, depending on business stability. According to the head of the Ministry Alexei Ulyukaev, the creating of more convenient system of credit refinancing scheme to small and medium enterprises will lead to increase of the credit portfolio of 400-500 billion rubles per year. At the same time the Minister thinks that under existing interest rates and terms of credit the situation when economics will simply bump against the debt load, was inevitable. It is possible to avoid it only by extending this sector due to getting rid of administrative burden. Ulyukaev also notes that state banks could spread the model of “lending factory” on small and medium enterprises, similar to retail lending.

The second topical issue related to small and medium enterprises is a problem of insurance premiums. It is to be recalled that for small enterprises, working in manufacturing and social spheres, there is a reduced rate of insurance premiums of 20%. The first Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has accepted an offer of the MED of preservation of this benefit till 2016. Thus, the offer of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on gradual escalation of insurance premiums (on 1% per annum) beginning in 2014 was delayed.

The experts agree that essential reforms in monetary policy are necessary to stimulate the development of this economy sector. Firstly, this refers to reduction of refinancing rate. Secondly, business struggle in banking sector should be developed. Today due to dominant position of banks with state participation it practically doesn’t exist. Thirdly, there should be changes in the policy of banking regulation; first of all, the point is about instruction CB 254-P, determining regulatory limits for banks. And at last, one should pay attention on borrowers’ rights protection, which actually doesn’t exist.

Offers of the MED are certainly the steps in the right direction, though they are very small. And the rate of 10% is still high enough. Let’s hope that these steps towards entrepreneurs will become by far not the last ones and together with other reforms, such as “tax holiday”, they will deliver the positive results, giving rise to development of other economic sectors.

Are special economic zones a breakthrough for Russia?

The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a part of territory of the Russian Federation determining by the Government of the RF, where a special "privileged" mode of doing business exists and customs procedure of free customs zone may operates. As a rule, the validity of such zones is several decades and that is quite logical - high-tech innovations and new growth models are not created from scratch, it takes a long time and investor confidence in the return of their investments. There are also zero interest rates to investors on key taxes. Additionally, there are tax breaks for government bodies aimed to the development of SEZ infrastructure.

On the territory of the Russian Federation special economic zone of the following types can be created: industrial and manufacturing, technology development, tourist and recreational, port.

Funding of the creation of engineering, transport, social, innovation and other infrastructure of the special economic zone effects at the expense of the federal budget and the budgets of other levels.

Industrial and manufacturing zones are a vast territory, located in the major industrial regions of the country. The proximity to the resource base for production, access to finished infrastructure and main roads, create favorable conditions for doing business, creating new high-tech fields and industries. Today there are six industrial and manufacturing zones: "Alabuga" (Republic of Tatarstan), "Lipetsk", "Togliatti", "Titanium Valley" (Sverdlovsk region), "Moglino" (Pskov region), "Ljudinovo" (Kaluga region).

Technology development zones are located in the largest research and education centers with a rich academic tradition and recognized research schools. They offer great opportunities for innovative business development, hi-tech production and its output to the Russian and international markets. Today there are five technology development zones: "Dubna" (Moscow Region), "St. Petersburg", "Zelenograd» (Moscow), "Tomsk", "Innopolis" (Republic of Tatarstan).

Tourist and recreational zones are located in the most scenic and popular tourist regions of Russia. Special economic zone of tourist-type offer favorable conditions for the organization of tourism, sports, recreational and other types of businesses. Today there are four special economic zone of this type in Russia: "Altai Valley" (Altai region), "Baikal harbor" (Republic of Buryatia), "Gate of Baikal" (Irkutsk region), "Biryuzovaya Katun" (Buryatia).

Port zones are located in close proximity to major transportation routes, logistics SEZ can be a platform for the organization of the shipbuilding and ship repair activities, provision of logistics services, as well as a base for new routes. Currently there are two port SEZ: "Ulyanovsk", "Sovetskaya Gavan" (Khabarovsk Territory).

Thus it can be concluded that there are quite a great number of sites in Russia with preferential tax and customs regime, the infrastructure created by the state. However, it will take a large time period to SEZ to give our country new breakthrough technologies require, the stability of the legal framework and investor confidence that in spite of the preferential tax treatment and other incentives, their investment will bring them the planned return in the form of profits and participation in the management of generated business.