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"We are waiting for concrete actions"

Sergey Kachaev, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East

Sergey Kachaev, Deputy Minister for Development of the Far East, told EastRussia what conditions should be created for the arrival of investments and what is the role of the ministry in shaping the demographic policy in the region.

"We are waiting for concrete actions"

- Sergey Valerevich, recently in Khabarovsk, under the auspices of the Ministry of Vostochnostok, the conference "Demographic Development of the Far East" was held. There are a lot of discussions about the future of the Far Eastern regions of Russia. The Ministry itself experts often reproached for the non-systematic approach and the absence of a thoughtful "eastern policy" in general and demographic policy in the Far East in particular. What, in your opinion, is the role of the ministry and how will it be coordinated with other authorities in the process of developing such a policy?

- Politics is a common strategy of all state authorities and regions of state administration, that is, a certain general paradigm. In this sense, a single ministry or department can not devise a thought-out policy alone. Exactly at this point, it will cease to be a strategy, and will become a one-sided approach only at the tactical level.

Minvostokrazvitiya in this case assumes the role of an organizer and, if you want, a moderator who is able to link the interests of federal authorities and many other structures, to concentrate on a particular territory all the resources, tools and opportunities for implementing common goals. And the priorities themselves must be delineated so that they meet the interests of the development of the entire Far East and Russia as a whole, and not of some separate (even powerful and influential) structures or institutions. So we understand our role. In addition, cases are not created "in words". Any programs and goals must necessarily be recorded and tracked each stage of the implementation of the intended tasks. Otherwise, everything will simply go to the sand, as has happened many times.

- And what role in the demographic policy do you assign to the regions? Will it not be so, that in Moscow again "everyone has already decided for them". Do they have freedom of choice and room for maneuver?

- Freedom is good when you have money and personnel with it. But with all this in the Far Eastern regions is difficult. Their capacity is enough to maintain the existing situation. Any crisis or recession immediately leads to negative consequences. So, for example, occurs in Chukotka. Among 50, thousands of its inhabitants are about 2,5 thousand. They are waiting for the moment when they can return to the mainland. Just now they have nowhere to go. There are similar “frozen” problems in many other Far Eastern territories. The regional authorities can somehow react and smooth over problems, but joint efforts of the federal center, regions and municipalities, the public and business are needed to make a breakthrough and start a priority development.

In this respect, it seems to me reasonable position, for example, Sberbank and many other large business players interested in retaining cadres. These companies in the Far East are socially responsible businesses, implementing special programs of personnel policy.

Developing the concept of migration and demographic policy, we must go in a synergetic direction, including maximizing the use of business structures in all development programs of the region.

- And at what stage is this development now located? Is it possible to even outline some key guidelines-the sum of the program costs, the estimated population of the Far East (it was said about its increase by 1 million people to 2025 or 2030 year), and so on?

- There is no program covering the period before 2025. It is not accepted and is not even being reviewed. An initial project was created, which is now frozen. More or less definitely, we can only talk about plans before 2018 of the year - for this time the goals and objectives have been set, the amount of funding has been established. Now we have to find tools for planning to be carried out for a more distant future. This requires financial resources and strategy - in fact, this is our current work today.

The figures you are asking about are a rather conventional thing. According to the most optimistic forecasts, the population of the Far East in the coming years will remain at the existing level - 6,2 million people. All other scenarios assume a decrease in the number of residents of the Far Eastern Federal District. At present, there are no ready-made recipes that would help to solve the demographic problem cardinally here, although there are good proposals, in particular, measures to reduce mortality from extreme causes, alcoholism, accidents, etc. But even they will increase the population by 2030 year Maximum to 6,4 - 6,5 million, not more. Measures that would give impetus to radical changes in the demographic situation in the Far East, to discuss and take is yet to be. But the main one is to stimulate migration.

The main condition for attracting people to the Far East is to improve the quality of life. These include new and well-paid jobs. To achieve this goal, all projects that we are now engaged in are aimed. Now there is a creation of territories of advanced development, state support of significant investment projects is being carried out, a project is being developed to create the Free Port of Vladivostok, conditions are being created for the development of small and medium-sized businesses and much more. There will be many applicants for jobs with high wages, specialists will start coming to the Far East, with them a new social infrastructure will be created on the ground.

- But is there no risk that jobs will be created, and the local population will not be able to occupy them because of lack of competencies, lack of qualifications or other reasons? Then the investor will bring the cadres with him - the next temporary workers and shift workers, and the local population, in fact, will increase the percentage of unemployed?

- There is always a risk. Especially if you do not engage in advance demographic policy and let everything take its course. Our task is to work in advance. We already know roughly what projects and in which sectors Russian investors intend to implement in the Far East. Taking into account the characteristics of these investment projects, it is necessary together with the regions and investors to understand how to form staffing, primarily at the expense of the local workforce, how to improve the qualifications of regional specialists and their level of education. It is impossible to deal only with TOR in isolation from the social situation.

It is clear that an investor can not be forced to hire people who do not meet his requirements for the competence of cadres. We need to negotiate, enter into a dialogue, find mutually beneficial solutions, form a personnel reserve, attract specialists from other regions. We give the investor cheap land, we connect for free to the infrastructure, we establish normal and competitive tariffs in comparison with other countries of the Asia-Pacific region - but this is not enough. It is necessary to ensure the availability of quality human resources at the appropriate level. This is a lot of time-consuming work. Now high demands on professionals. Investors do not have time to train a large number of specialists, we need ready-made personnel. This is a definite challenge for us and the regions. Of course, the staff is not easy to grow. But this only means that this problem needs to be dealt with more and more seriously than with all the others.

- As you know, the Ministry of Finance is now reducing the allocation of funds for all state programs at 10%. The program for the development of the Far East and the Baikal Region will receive even less financing this year due to the fact that the project and estimate documentation was not prepared in time for a part of the projects. The money will now be lost permanently, or is there a chance that they will still be received when the documents are properly prepared?

- The President instructed to consider the possibility of reimbursing the funding, unused this year, in the following 2-3 years. We are now preparing relevant proposals to the Ministry of Finance, these documents justified the restoration of such transfers of funds in 2016-2018 years.

–Why did such a slowdown in financing happen at all?

- The development and submission of applications for the financing of projects can be carried out at several levels: regions, federal authorities, their subordinate structures or relevant companies. Without a complete set of design estimates, applications are not accepted, this is the main requirement for starting their consideration. There are many reasons for the reduction of funding, but the main one is the incorrect organization of work on drafting projects. Although for the future this is a lucid lesson.

- As is known, since last year a circle of the most promising investment projects in the Far East has been determined. Which of them, in your opinion, promise the greatest return?

- Implementation of investment projects in the Far East is possible in several directions. For example, this participation as a resident of the territory of socio-economic development. The creation of nine TORs in different regions of the FEFD is now approved.

Also at the governmental level, there is support for investment projects that contribute to the development of the Far East. Subcommittee on the implementation of investment projects in the Far East selected 6 investment projects. Preparations are under way to finance them. If everything goes according to plan, from July to August, the projects will be financed. There are more applications besides these six. On them while the design-budget documentation and other obligatory papers is finished. But, in fact, the pipeline has already been launched and, I hope, will work without interruptions. There are no restrictions on the number of projects, only the total amount of funds that can be allocated for the year is recorded. We also look forward to the restoration of funding under previous projects - at the expense of these funds, something will be possible to allocate for new ventures.

These six approved projects are the construction of a mining and metallurgical combine for the extraction and processing of Ozernovskoye ore in Kamchatka, a gold mining project in the Selemginsky area in the Amur region, two projects in the Khabarovsk Territory: a transshipment complex for transshipping coal in the Vanino seaport and development Coal deposit, and two projects in Yakutia: the construction of the mining and processing complex "Ignalina" and the first stage of the Taiga Mining and Processing Combine.

Another promising opportunity for the implementation of investment projects is within the framework of the free port in Vladivostok. The relevant bills have been submitted by the Government to the chambers of the Federal Assembly.

- What you are talking about requires tremendous organizational, sometimes purely routine bureaucratic work, coordination, and expertise. What role should the Far Eastern Development Corporation being created now play? Will it not duplicate the functions of the Investment Promotion Agency and the Development Fund for the Far East?

- The tasks of the three structures are different. The agency is looking for investors, attracting them to the territory of the Far Eastern Federal District, and presenting sites in the form of TOP. In other words, it accompanies investors at the earliest stage when they only decide to invest in the economy of the Far East. Development Fund is a financial structure that selects, analyzes, prepares projects and invests in them. With the Agency, they do not intersect, but only complement each other. As for the Development Corporation, it is a management company, which may have a number of subsidiaries to work on specific TOPs.

- The center and regions will have to finance the TOP on the principle of "50 on 50". The regions are already investing in the development of the infrastructure of such territories. Most likely, they will not have enough money: the law was adopted after the budgets of this year were formed. Next year, budgets will obviously become smaller - a crisis. Where will the regions take the missing funds? Is it possible in this case, an individual approach?

- The rule "50 on 50" remains in force. But in order to ease the burden on the regions, we are ready to postpone their obligations for the current year's investments to 2017-2018. Or to create now an infrastructure at the expense of the federal center, and further to develop on regional means. The waste is thus transferred to a later date. While all regions are in the same position - but if an individual approach is required, we can not do without it, naturally.

- You were in Japan, where you participated in an investment forum. During the meeting, a number of documents were signed. What is the probability that they will turn into real projects? And does the sanctions regime imposed on the Russian Federation by the West influence cooperation with our eastern partner?

- Sanctions of influence on our interaction do not have. Interest in the Japanese to the initiatives put forward by the Ministry of Color, there is, but, another thing, we have not yet offered them a completely finished product. They are waiting for concrete proposals from us to evaluate them in detail. Much depends on ourselves - on how quickly we will be able not only to enforce the law, but to offer specific sites, to identify all tax, administrative and customs rules.

Interest in the TOP is shown by several Japanese companies. For example, one of them will build a passenger terminal in Khabarovsk airport, another is ready to create an agro-industrial complex in Khabarovsk with greenhouses for growing vegetables.

By the way, exactly the same thing as the Japanese, we offer other foreign partners. In this regard, there is a good experience of cooperation with China - the POR Bridge. The company, whose capital is three-quarters Chinese, will create infrastructure there for its own money, attract investors, locate them and build production facilities for them. But - according to our, Russian laws and with the use of regimes provided by TOP. Let's see how things go, but, in general, this is quite an attractive and interesting project.

In detail, new projects and investment opportunities in the Far East will be discussed at the sites of the Eastern Economic Forum, which will be held 3-5 September in Vladivostok. Some of the formats will be held in closed mode, so that investors and businessmen can objectively and thoroughly condemn all the details of the projects. We hope that each of the participants will be able to collect their portfolio of proposals.

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