Russia's economy should sustain its current 4 percent growth rate over the next three years, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, playing up its relatively strong performance as the global economy slows.
"Our economy continues to grow," Putin told a financial conference in Moscow hosted by VTB Capital.
"Experts say that these dynamics will continue on average over the next three years. This is lower than before the crisis, but the growth is much more balanced and of higher quality."
Putin spoke after his government submitted a three-year budget to parliament that foresees balancing the books by mid-decade while keeping spending almost flat in real terms after a splurge before his election this year for a third Kremlin term.
Russia's budget will require an oil price of over $100 per barrel to balance, but Putin reassured his audience that the "non-oil" deficit - calculated after stripping out energy taxes - would fall over time.
Last month's Reuters poll predicted gross domestic product would grow 3.6 percent in 2013. The Economy Ministry has presented two growth scenarios for 2013-2015: a "moderately optimistic" forecast of 3.7-4.5 percent, and a conservative 2.7-3.3 percent.
Russia has been outpacing most developed economies but lags some major emerging rivals such as China, where growth is still close to 8 percent, and India, whose economy has been growing far below government expectations but still expanded 5.5 percent in the three months to June.
Putin expressed concern over economic developments in Europe and China and said the government stood ready to inject as much as 150 billion roubles ($4.8 billion) into Russia's banks should this become necessary.
"I repeat - this only would happen ... in the event of a crisis," Putin said.
"We expect that it will not happen at all, but if there is a need, this may happen by exchanging treasury bonds into shares of banking lending organisations."
Such an emergency backstop was one of a range of measures introduced in the wake of the 2008-09 crisis, although it was not widely deployed.
Russian banks have generally recovered well from the crash and the sector still has a relatively small balance sheet in relation to the size of the overall economy. But rapid lending growth is stretching the capital adequacy of some players.
State-controlled Sberbank recently completed the sale of a state holding worth more than $5 billion, while its smaller rival VTB is considering a stock offering of at least $2 billion that might include new shares to bolster its capital.
Putin, while praising the Sberbank share placement as "one of the best deals of the past 10 years", did not make a clear statement concerning how and when VTB, which floated a 10 percent stake in early 2011, might return to the stock market.
($1 = 31.0372 Russian roubles)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Katya Golubkova; Writing by Douglas Busvine, editing by Jason Bush/Ruth Pitchford)