(Updates with Putin’s comment from fourth paragraph.)
Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, grew faster than all major economies except for China and India last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.
Gross domestic product advanced 4.2 percent, up from 4 percent in 2010, Putin said at a government meeting in Moscow today. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last month growth may be as high as 4.5 percent for 2011.
Putin, who presided over average growth of about 7 percent a year during his 2000-2008 tenure as president, wants faster expansion as he seeks to return to the Kremlin in a March 4 election. Russia must grow 6 percent to 7 percent annually to become one of the world’s five largest economies within five years, Putin said last month.
“Let’s remember that 2012 won’t be easy and more likely just the opposite,” he said. “The worrying signals coming from leading world economies should keep us working diligently to protect the interests of our people.”
Russia is the “leader” on fiscal health, with the federal budget surplus at 0.8 percent of GDP, Putin said. State debt was at 10.4 percent of economic output last year, compared with more than 80 percent for the euro area, he said.
Inflation “remains high” even after slowing to to 6.1 percent last year, the lowest annual rate since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the premier said. Industrial output in Russia grew 4.7 percent last year, putting Russia in fourth place among the leading economies, behind China, India and Germany, Putin said.
Putin, 59, said he wants to create 25 million well-paid jobs over the next two decades as Russia seeks to modernize an economy still reliant on Soviet-era infrastructure.
--Editors: Paul Abelsky, Alan Crosby
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