The economic program of the first acting and then President Vladimir Putin was then extremely worried by most analysts. As such, there was no economic election program; in the Address to Voters, the topic of the economy was practically ignored (except for the fight against poverty). Throughout 2000 and at the beginning of 2001, the rumors about what would be the “Putin program” did not stop.
In particular, there was a discussion about whether the new president would prefer the liberal “German Gref program” from the Center for Strategic Research or the “Victor Ishaev program” – a protectionist development of a group of economists of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Formally, the choice was not made. The government of Mikhail Kasyanov, which included German Gref (in the status of minister) and Alexei Kudrin (deputy prime minister and minister of finance), implemented the first option, plus the achievements of the assistant to the president Andrei Illarionov.
It is possible to reconstruct Putin’s actual economic program for 2000-2001 according to the then fundamental decisions of the government and the president. In the tax sphere, this is a reduction in the level of nominal taxation from 60–65% of GDP to 40–45%, repayment of external debt (including the Paris Club), joining the World Trade Organization, a deficit-free budget, lowering the Bank of Russia refinancing rate and the fight against inflation, the creation of a mechanism for maintaining federal budget revenues to smooth out oil price fluctuations (stabilization fund).
In addition, the government was then loyal to the idea of gradually strengthening the ruble (from 32 rubles / $ in 2000 to 10 rubles / $) and abandoning the control of capital flows (one of the first important actions in 2000 was to reduce the rate of sale foreign exchange earnings from 75% to 50%, the Central Bank insisted on 100%).
Solutions for the industrial sector include the consolidation of the public sector, the active attraction of direct foreign investment, the reform of the energy system, the privatization of railways and parts of oil assets, the strengthening of Gazprom’s business and the construction of a pipeline system bypassing Ukraine.
The ultimate goal of the program was to achieve rates of economic growth above 4% of GDP in order to increase real disposable incomes of the population, reduce the number of poor and create a middle class.
The longest announced in this unofficial and mostly liberal plan was the reform of RAO UES of Russia – ten years. Almost everything else usually fit in four to five years. Almost everything then claimed was somehow implemented and implemented, but three to four times slower than anticipated.
This is actually the main pattern in the “Putin program” – it cannot be said that any initial plans were canceled (the exception is the privatization of Russian Railways). But their unpredictably slow implementation by the time any effect was achieved already made it possible to forget that this was not a natural course of things, not slow progress, but the implementation of the president’s program. He did not back down from the program. He consistently and steadily carried it out together with the entire economy at a speed that no one had expected at the time of planning.