ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO, THE SPOKESMAN OF RUSSIA'S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, ANSWERS RUSSIAN MEDIA QUESTIONS CONCERNING RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND WORLD BANK
Question: What importance is Russia attaching to cooperation with the World Bank?
Answer: I shall note first of all that regular contacts are being maintained between Russia and the World Bank Group at all levels. The World Bank Management has repeatedly reaffirmed its interest in the further development of relations of constructive cooperation with the Russian Federation and readiness to assist the implementation of the economic program of the Russian Government. All in all, the IBRD has extended to Russia 10 billion dollars in loans over the period of cooperation.
Russia appreciates the constructive nature of relations with the World Bank Group and is interested in seeing the Russian vector in World Bank activities remain a priority.
We regard our cooperation as an important auxiliary mechanism to assist national economic reform and the accelerated structural adjustment in the country. Despite the substantial improvement in the situation, Russia still needs Bank assistance, but its content is changing, for the talk is now about the next generation of reforms.
Russia regards the World Bank not only as a source of financial resources, but, first and foremost, as an instrument for the transfer of expertise and knowledge as well as one of the mechanism for advancing reforms into regions.
Question: Which areas of cooperation by Russia with the World Bank appear most important and promising?
Answer: In accordance with the 2002-2004 Cooperation Program between Russia and the Bank, the most important areas of interaction for us are as follows: streamlining state administration and carrying out legal reform; improving the conditions for business and promoting competition; reducing social and environmental risks; proceeding with the education, health care, and housing and utilities reforms; implementing large infrastructure projects (to help the growth of the competitive ability of Russia); further perfecting institutions of the budgetary system, financial markets and the banking sector; and promoting small and medium-sized business.
We believe that, in the reformation of the Bretton Woods Institutions, it is important to devise an effective mechanism for monitoring the world currency-financial architecture and to work out measures of prompt response to financial crises and a long-term strategy for preventing global shocks in the future. The pace of reform, moreover, should be reasonable and well-considered.
Russia shares the World Bank's view of socioeconomic development as a single comprehensive process. It is this approach that serves as a source of the intellectual weight of the Bank and enables it to play a leading role in the analysis of problems of development. In addition, we have always felt that social development is impossible without economic growth. Accordingly, we support the traditional orientation of the IMF towards stimulating sustainable and long-term growth, primarily through maintaining macroeconomic stability and structural change. The correctness of the approach is borne out by successes in the development of a number of countries and regions which precisely on the basis of steady economic growth rates have managed to reduce poverty.
Among tasks to optimize our credit cooperation we regard the enhancement of the effectiveness in the implementation of projects and improvements in their management.
By and large we positively assess the heightened World Bank attention to the solution of global problems. And we consider it important that the issue of "global public goods" should not be used for opposing international development goals to national priorities.