Medvedev Sets Out Key Tasks for New Govt.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced on Monday seven tasks for his new government to be implemented in the next six months.

Foremost among these are social and economic programs, five of which will be up and running by January 2013, Medvedev said after President Vladimir Putin unveiled the new line-up.

Medvedev, 46, appointed premier after Putin was inaugurated for a third term in the Kremlin on May 7, has pledged to launch wide-ranging reforms and a privatization program to diversify Russia’s economy away from its reliance on oil and gas.

Improving demographics and increasing wages are also among top priorities for the government, which remains dominated by Putin loyalists.

Medvedev also urged measures to make Russia more attractive to foreign investors.

He insisted the Russian government must maintain its list of state-controlled companies set for privatization, and should speed up the process.

“While taking the real situation on the financial markets into account, we nevertheless need to carry out transactions for the privatization of state packages in state-controlled companies in compliance with the approved list but according to a new schedule,” Medvedev told the first meeting of his Cabinet.

Medvedev said privatization is a top priority for his government.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the government would take a decision on accelerated privatization within the next seven to ten days.

“We’ll prepare an accelerated schedule. During a week or 10 days at most we’ll produce this document,” Shuvalov said.

The Russian government approved in late 2010 an ambitious privatization program for 2011-2013, including the top ten state-owned assets, in a move to bring an extra 1 trillion rubles ($30 billion) to state coffers, but later had to postpone its plans due to the unfavorable situation on the world markets.

The list of high-profile privatizations included the sale of state-owned stakes in oil major Rosneft (25 percent minus one share), RusHydro hydropower generator (7.97 percent minus one share), the Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System (4.11 percent minus one share), the country’s largest shipping company Sovcomflot (50 percent minus one share), top bank Sberbank (7.58 percent minus one share), VTB bank (35.5 percent minus one share), the United Grain Company (100 percent by 2012), Rosagroleasing agricultural leasing company (50 percent minus one share from 2013) and the country’s rail monopoly Russian Railways (25 percent minus one share).

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