MOSCOW (AP) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia would continue with its economic stimulus program even though the export-dependent economy has shown signs of having emerged from recession.
Putin told a group of foreign investors that he was "cautiously optimistic" about the outlook for Russia's economy but that his government would forge ahead with measures aimed at boosting domestic demand, strengthening the banking system and decreasing the budget deficit.
"It's still too early to say that we've overcome the crisis," he said.
Russia's economy began to nosedive last year due to the global financial crisis and a slump in oil and gas prices, its biggest exports. Gross domestic product is expected to fall 8.5 percent this year, according to the Economic Development Ministry, but official data show Russia's economy grew 0.6 percent in the third quarter from the previous three months, technically lifting it out of recession.
The economy has been more buoyant in recent months thanks to rising crude prices, but analysts have warned that without a revival in consumer demand any economic recovery would be lackluster.
Putin told representatives of the foreign investment advisory group, with whom he meets once a year, that the government would continue to reduce red tape -- one of the biggest obstacles to investment in Russia.
"We have certain plans for this. They're not being carried out as quickly as we'd like, but we're working in this direction," the prime minister said.
Putin's comments come after the Group of 20 leading industrialized and developing economies -- which includes Russia -- pledged to keep stimulus measures intact until recovery is assured.