MANHASSET, NY The land that used to live by five-year economic plans is preparing to launch another one to promote high technology.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is challenging the scientific and education communities as well as his own government bureaucrats to come up with a long-term plan to boost Russia's high-tech sector. Putin recently convened a meeting in the Siberian capital Novosibirsk focusing on the creation of technology parks.
IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman said Russia would invest some $650 million in the IT sector over the next five years.
During a visit to India last month, Putin was impressed by India's successful IT industry, which now commands more than one-fifth of the world's IT outsourcing market. Reiman, who accompanied Putin on the trip, predicted that Russia's IT sector would grow to $10 billion by 2010. Technology parks would focus on information technology and would seek to develop a new crop of young engineers and technical managers.
So far, Putin said his government has not been able to diversify the economy from its heavy dependence on the sale of natural resources. He has directed cabinet members to speed the implementation of draft laws giving companies tax breaks for locating businesses in high-technology zones. German Gref, Russia's minister for economic development and trade, is scheduled to submit a draft law on special economic zones by March 1.
According to a preliminary agreement, the common social tax for technoparkswould be establishedat 14 percent. "Today the [IT] business is one of the most dynamic and profitable sectors of the world economy, and [IT] itself is a powerful tool to renew and increase competitiveness of national industries and develop innovative activity," Putin said in a speech at Akademgorodok (Academy City), the main research center in Siberia. "Forming a modern infrastructure of the information sector of the economy can become a major national project."
Putin said the technoparks should focus on competitiveness and profitability, with manufactured products oriented towards specific solutions. The parks would follow the example of Akademgorodok, which integrates education, science and production in one location. State support stimulates exports of technology and services, said Putin.