Alexei Kudrin: Russia Is in 'Full-Blown Crisis'
Russia is undergoing a "full-blown crisis" and is witnessing plummeting living standards, former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told delegates at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum which kicked off Thursday.
This matches his comments of end-2014, when he predicted that the country could be in a serious crisis in 2015 if circumstances are not changed.
"We are in a full-blown crisis now... Growth could be restored at the end of the year, but statistically we'll have a decrease in GDP this year - that's a crisis," he said.
Speaking to an international audience from both developed and developing economies, Kudrin explained that the population's income was also going down, a trend likely to be kept this autumn.
He asserted it wasn't only sanctions, but also lack of reform, that hampered growth.
Problems of Russia are mostly felt on the labor market, where many companies have pursued job cuts or switched to part-time.
In his words, a host of measures should be taken to increase retirement age, create jobs for young people, and improve conditions for women with children who wish to enter the labor market.
On Thursday he told the RBC daily that Russia urgently needs early elections to speed up reform.
"Before elections reforms one doesn't carry out reforms," he is quoted as saying.
He had put forward the same idea at SPIEF, provoking mixed reactions from delegates.
Asked about that by the RBC, he reiterated that delaying reforms for "a year, two or three more" will also delay Russia's move back to its previous positions in the global markets. Radical reforms need significant political support, the former official added.
Kudrin served as Finance Minister in 2000-2011, both under President Vladimir Putin and his then successor Dmitry Medvedev. After stepping down he became the Dean of Faculty of Liberal Arts and the St Petersburg University.
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