Mr. Di Bella’s visit includes meetings with the government, students and faculty on November 7th – 8th.
Yesterday, November 7th, the guest started his schedule with a lecture at the Institute of International Relations, History and Oriental Studies. The lecture touched on “oil economies” and their specific problems in the current economic climate. The IMF holds regular meetings with academia and young professionals in such a format; this one was the first for Mr. Di Bella. He was impressed with the sheer scale of the university’s programs and education quality. Students asked if it is possible to introduce a whole lecture course from IMF, but the speaker said that the Fund just doesn’t possess the wherewithal to do this. So periodical consulting sessions is all that it is for now, and IMF is content with the situation.
After the lecture Mr. Di Bella went to meet Rector Ilshat Gafurov. Also present were Vice-Rectors Marat Safiullin and Linar Latypov. The sides exchanged opinions on the current economic development of Russia and international financial cooperation.
Di Bella said that he was glad to feel the interest from students and faculty. The students, in particular, asked pertinent questions about oil prices, public governance, and the Fund’s own operational processes. The dialog then proceeded to concern the issues of economic diversification and oil industry development. The IMF executive suggested that dynamic growth stems from human capital and the elimination of infrastructural obstacles that exist in Russia. It’s imperative to invest in education and medicine, said he. This is where universities are the key players. Other discussed problems included Russian taxation system and investment.
On November 8th Mr. Di Bella presented another lecture – this time at the Institute of Management, Economics and Finance. Before that he and Rector Gafurov sat down with Prime Minister of Tatarstan Ildar Khalikov to talk about global growth and Russia’s and Tatartsan’s place in the world economy. This topic was naturally continued at KFU.
During the lecture Di Bella mostly talked about Russia’s adaptation to the oil prices slump and future investment in processing industries. He once again emphasized the importance of human capital and mentioned that Russia, as many other nations, is bound to face the workforce deficit very soon. He praised the government’s reaction to the 2014 oil price decrease; in his opinion, it was significantly better than that in 2008, although, obviously, the general population still faces some tough economic constraints, including the downward trend of the real disposable income.
Russia doesn't need the IMF's loans, was Di Bella’s answer to one of the questions. They are a type of a last resort when other means of financing have been depleted or made unavailable. He also said that Russia may face difficulties with attracting new investment in the current political and economic climate. Rector Gafurov disagreed and proposed several examples of serious new international partnerships in different industries, including projects currently underway in Tatarstan. Dr. Gafurov said that Russian industrial leaders just need time to repurpose themselves and utilize the existing huge potential.