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Buryatia is a land of opportunities that are not easy to realize

Alexey Tsydenov: on lockdown, tourism and the need for power

A large but uncrowded territory, a dotted industry, and the main wealth is unique nature ... What is already there, and what else can and should be done to improve the quality of life of the residents of Buryatia, the head of the Republic of Buryatia Alexey Tsydenov said in an interview with EastRussia.

Buryatia is a land of opportunities that are not easy to realize
Photo: press service of the government of the Republic of Buryatia

About Covid-19 and lockdown

- Alexey Sambuevich, what is your current situation with the spread of coronavirus infection? Until recently, it was one of the most difficult in the country, and you even introduced a lockdown.

- The situation is difficult, although now it has become better. Before the lockdown, at the peak of the disease, we had 3200 beds occupied - significantly more than in the second wave. After two weeks of the general self-isolation regime, the need for hospitalization of patients with coronavirus has decreased. In the first week after the lockdown was removed, 742 fewer patients received treatment in hospitals compared to the previous week. And the load on the outpatient link decreased by 23%. As early as July 12, within a week, we have reduced 755 beds for the treatment of patients with covid. That is, the lockdown had a positive effect. At the same time, at the peak, we hospitalized only those who were seriously ill, and now we are hospitalizing even lighter ones in order to prevent a severe course of the disease.

We had a very high rate of growth, ambulances were overloaded - 1,5 calls a day, situations arose when an ambulance call left the next day. With the introduction of the lockdown, the situation has improved. And I would like to say a huge thank you to all our medical workers that they survived. And to thank all the residents for their understanding of the lockdown and disciplined observance of the restriction measures, they survived these two weeks, which eventually made it possible to turn the tide.

- At a recent meeting of the government commission on the development of the Far East, you proposed to redistribute funds in 2021 within the framework of a single subsidy for equipping 11 medical institutions with medical equipment. Is it associated with a high incidence?

- Of course, this is due to the fight against coronavirus. These were mainly oxygen concentrators - 100 units, invasive and non-invasive ventilators - 77 units, and monitors - everything related to COVID-19 was included in the main purchase to create additional beds for patients. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Yuri Petrovich Trutnev for the support and, of course, the President, for the fact that we have such opportunities for the Far Eastern Federal District - an additional program for subsidies for the development of regions, which gave us the opportunity to quickly deploy additional beds by equipping everything you need.

- How high is the death rate from coronavirus in the region?

- The mortality rate for 2020 is below the average Russian level, but for us, it is still high. Now we are about in the middle of the list of regions.

- Has the lockdown ended as such?

- Yes. Of course, some of the restrictions remain: catering is open until 23 pm, cinemas and theaters are open with a load of no more than 50% of the capacity for vaccinated people. Food courts in shopping centers are still closed, but there are cafes and restaurants inside shopping centers with their own seating areas and requiring service from waiters. The rides also operate at half their capacity. Mass events are limited - but these restrictions are no longer global.


On the quality of life, housing and unemployment

- In a recent report in Khural, you announced the following data: the index of industrial production of the republic amounted to 107,4% - this is the first place in the Far Eastern Federal District and the 8th place in Russia. The indicator of availability of places in kindergartens was brought to almost 96%, and financing of the education sector in terms of the preschool sector over the past year increased by 2 billion, reaching 21,2 billion rubles. Substantial support was provided to small businesses. And all the same - according to the rating of the quality of life (it is regularly done by RIA Novosti and soon the ASI will do the same) the region is still in the last five. Why is it this way? What can be done in this situation? And how do you see the situation, say, in the next year or two?

- We have grown in industry last year, and this year we are growing at a rate even higher than last year. As for the ratings on the quality of life, you need to understand by what criteria and who is assessing. ASI ratings are more indicative, we would be guided by them. I am quite careful about the rest of the ratings. This does not mean that we are doing well with the quality of life - of course, there are problems. But I have traveled and I travel around Russia a lot, I know where everyone lives, and I would not say that we are the worst of all.

We have one key problem in Ulan-Ude - air purity in winter. It is serious and has no quick solution. We try in different ways, but here the fork is as follows: you can do everything quickly, efficiently, but expensively, and people will have to pay for it; or, in order not to burden people with additional payments for housing and communal services, you will have to choose difficult decisions in order to achieve clean air.

Plus we have a large private sector in the city, if we take the Ulan-Ude agglomeration, then we have about 67 thousand private wooden houses. There are no more such cities in Russia. People came from the districts of the republic, and the entire suburban area was built up with private houses.

- What percentage of you have dilapidated and dilapidated housing? Are you getting rid of it already?

- Of course, within the framework of the federal program. We are already implementing the 2022 program for resettlement from dilapidated and dilapidated housing. It operates not only in the city - in the whole republic, in the northern regions.

- Do you have enough funds to implement the program for resettlement from dilapidated and hazardous housing?

- We carry out relocation, including through purchases on the secondary market. Due to the fact that there were large purchases of housing for resettlement from dilapidated and dilapidated, and also for orphans, we, in fact, chose the entire secondary market. Only isolated and expensive free offers remained on it. And now we are already building new housing for resettlement from dilapidated and emergency, and for the resettlement of orphans too.

- Do you carry out the program of resettlement of orphans?

- No, many regions do not. We spend the money we are given to buy housing, but we do not completely cover the need. We have 7 thousand people in the queue in total, and 4 thousand people for whom the right to receive housing has already come. And we buy about 250 a year. So count it. The composition of those in need of this queue is actually a deeper question, since 80% of orphans in our country are social orphans, that is, with living parents.

- You just mentioned the construction of new housing. Whose power is this construction going on - do you have your own builders or companies from other cities?

- We have our own builders, but now there is a problem of personnel in construction - there is a total shortage of builders in general. The situation on the labor market is difficult: we have 7 thousand people registered as unemployed, of whom about 4,5 thousand receive benefits, while there are 14 thousand vacancies.

- That is, the labor market requires people with one specialty and qualifications, while the unemployed have others, is that so?

- Yes. If you watch our local television, all these creeping lines or advertising inserts, half of them are “looking for” and “required” specialists. Moreover, these are good positions with good salaries.

- Can these unemployed be retrained in order to occupy at least part of these places for which people are required?

- I've been to several job fairs, talked to people. Here, there is a vacancy of 30 thousand rubles - maybe not the highest salary, but normal. A man with an education is considering a vacancy, it is clear that he is intelligent ... I say: "Why don't you want to go?" “I don’t want to go from another part of the city.” That's all.

- So, a person has something to live on.

- Yes. That is, there is such unemployment, which is due to many things: it is inconvenient for someone to travel to another area, someone has no one to leave their children with.

- And if you look at the salaries? When you first joined the Far Eastern Federal District, your salaries were lower than in the Khabarovsk Territory or in Primorye. In your last interview, you said that the average salary is 28 thousand rubles. What is she like now?

- Our average income now is about 35 thousand rubles, and the salary is 42 thousand rubles. Salary is for employees. And income is, among other things, individual entrepreneurs.

- Did the Far Eastern mortgage at 2% increase the demand for housing?

- Last year, 9 thousand mortgage loans were issued in the republic - an absolute record. Today, we have 2 thousand unsecured housing decisions of banks on the issuance of a mortgage - that is, a mortgage has already been approved for a person, they are ready to give money to him, but he has nothing to buy on the market.

- Aren't you going to attract Moscow construction companies?

- We have signed an agreement with Pik, the largest Russian developer, and they have been working here for six months, studying the market. Our housing construction is growing very actively. Why did we attract a Moscow company - our resources will definitely not be enough: a large settlement is required - in the amount of about 2 billion rubles, the demolition of old housing, new communications. The central area of ​​the city is the most miserable: the city center is historical, and the houses have all the amenities on the street. There are 185 thousand square meters of potential development.


About new projects in industry, TOPs and minerals

- You said that production is growing, enterprises are working: there is the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, the Central Control Commission (pulp and cardboard mill) and others ... But all the same, it turns out that there is no qualitative breakthrough. Are there any new projects at the start now, perhaps related to the TOP, which should bring the republic to a qualitatively new level?

- To reach a qualitatively new level, one or two projects are not enough - these must be changes in large projects, in small and medium-sized businesses, and in agriculture.

As for the flagship projects, we are currently implementing the largest investment project in the republic - the Ozerny GOK, zinc production. It was planned to invest about 77 billion, now this boundary is already exceeding 90 billion. Recently, the first cubic meter of concrete was poured there for the construction of a processing plant.

- And whose brainchild, who is the investor of Ozerny GOK?

- There the majority investor is Vladislav Sviblov, he has many different assets in other regions of Russia. They should be launched in two years. More than 2 thousand jobs are being created there only directly at the enterprise - and a lot of things are also emerging around it.

- What other ongoing projects are there?

- Extraction of fluorite at the Egitinskoye deposit. This year, we have completely entered industrial production, there, about 600 new jobs have been created. The license was bought by the local company Druza.

- Where are fluorites used?

- Fluorspar, aka fluorite, is used in metallurgical production. Quartz is mined at the same deposit. Quartz - 99,99% pure - goes into electronics and aluminum production.

There are enough minerals! We have one of the world's largest phosphorite deposits, Oshurkovskoye - an investor is needed there, now we are working on it. There is an investor who took a license long ago, but does not fulfill the license conditions for the development of the field, there is no activity, so I think there will be changes there.

And the large Kalyumnoye deposit in the north of the Republic is a raw material for the aluminum industry and the production of potash fertilizers. The license has been sold, additional exploration has been completed, the investor - the St. Petersburg company "Baikal Nedra Geo" - has already entered and is developing the field

- As for the TOP - do new companies come there?

- Enterprises that were included in the first ASEZ were subject to covid restrictions. They were focused in their work on China, therefore, for objective reasons, they slowed down their development. But, we now have new companies in the TOP come and get involved in the work.

- Do they manage to build the infrastructure, which the TOP is supposed to do?

- So far, they are using the preferential tax regime of the TOP. The infrastructure was needed just for the Ozerny GOK, and there without the TOP regime, but at the expense of the Far Eastern support instruments, 7 billion rubles were allocated for external infrastructure. This project stood in a frozen state for about 10 years. And as soon as the Far Eastern support mechanism was activated, they confirmed 7 billion from the budget - the investor entered, and development began.

- Which part of you concerns project "Eastern polygon" - modernization of BAM, Transsib?

- This directly concerns us, because both the BAM and the Trans-Siberian Railway pass through our territory. Just the other day, a new Baikal tunnel was commissioned: it begins in the Irkutsk region and ends in Buryatia. We have a large track reconstruction section of the Buryat section of the BAM.


About tourism

- As for tourism - how badly was it affected by the pandemic? How did you help small businesses in the travel industry?

- Last year, the drop in tourist traffic was more than 30%. But August last year was already at the level of August 2019 - that is, the main drop occurred in the first half of the year. And, of course, last year we helped the industry: travel companies were compensated for rent for premises, tourist accommodation facilities were compensated for housing and communal services - electricity, heat - during downtime.

- How much did you spend on supporting small businesses?

- It is in tourism - about 39 million to compensate for light, heat during downtime. They also received presidential support, as fall on the list of those most affected. Salary subsidies, loan write-offs - presidential support was substantial. In general, our tourism industry has not suffered so much, enterprises have not been liquidated - and now it is making a difference. Large investors show great interest in the construction of hotels. We have a great need for this, because there is a shortage of accommodations. For this summer, even the charter program was limited - we had to refuse charters, because we could not accept any more.

- And what kind of investors come - foreign or ours?

- Our investors. This is, first of all, the company "Cosmos Hotel Group" - they own the "Cosmos" hotel in Moscow and 21 other hotels around the world. They will build a five-star, four-star hotel. Now we have only one small five-star hotel in Ulan-Ude and one in Severobaikalsk.

The company plans to build a 4- and 5-star nature and recreation complex in the special economic zone “Baikalskaya Harbor” on the site “Goryachinsk”. The complex will be built in several stages until 2024. The first stage involves the construction of a 5-star hotel with 150 rooms, a four-star hotel with 200 rooms, 20 detached cottages, 50 service villas, 25 glampings and one luxury house with a lounge area.

The second phase includes the development of land plots and an increase in the number of rooms from just over 200 to 395 units. The total cost of the project is 11 billion rubles

Initial investments in the project from 2021 to 2024 will be directed to the construction of the first stage in Goryachinsk and will amount to 8,4 billion rubles. Starting from 2025 to 2026, financing of the second stage will begin with simultaneous construction with investments in the amount of 2,5 billion rubles.

Tourism for us is also an industry that creates employment - a tourist went to one point, went on an excursion to another, to a third on an excursion, went to a local diner, bought some souvenirs, etc. Tourism will only grow. Therefore, we invest in logistics, airports and roads. We have created a ministry for the development of tourism in the government, because we understand that this is a growing industry, and this growth is long-term.


About agriculture, furs and forest

- Do you have interesting key projects in agriculture?

- There is a large project for a greenhouse complex - more than 10 hectares under the roof of greenhouses. Unfortunately, it is not developing as fast as we would like - it should have been launched two years ago, but so far it is only preparing for it.

In agriculture - specifically for farmers - we have 800 million rubles a year in subsidies, and all taxes in total - less than 100 million. Food industry enterprises, a meat processing plant and others, I do not take into account here - there, of course, there are more taxes.

- And furs, your world famous Barguzin sable - we know that this was an export item of income in pre-revolutionary Russia. And now how are things with her?

- Yes. Fur is obtained, it goes through the St. Petersburg Fur Exchange, but we do not see any big income from this, to be honest. I am opposed to an increase in the production of furs. If we grow artificially, then I am for it, but in order to increase production in the wild, I am against it, and I do not see this as a target.

- How does the forestry industry develop and on what raw materials? You have a pulp and cardboard mill - does it use its own timber or imported timber?

- Your forest. They do not work on imported goods - the economy then does not develop. The forest must be both physically and economically accessible. Therefore, they work mainly on balance sheets, on the burner, that is, commercial timber is not needed by the pulp and paper mill.

The volume of timber harvesting has dropped slightly in our country compared to previous years. The forest that was mined in the central ecological zone ended, there after the fires of 2015 there were huge areas of burnt forest, which were cut down. We no longer cut there, and in other areas there are certain problems with the allocation, so now the volume of logging has decreased.

Our timber is also exported. And if Irkutsk prepares 30 million cubic meters, then we are 2,7 million, 10 times less. We have a different attitude to the forest.

- Will the complete ban on the export of round timber, which comes into effect next year, have any effect on you?

- No, there is a restriction on the export of round timber, but in our country, round timber was practically not exported. We had a sawlog - in the sense, lumber - a board, a bar. And the increase in the export duty on planks and beams with a moisture content above 22% - let's say, low-processed wood - is not a deterrent for exports, because this year the price of timber has already almost doubled.

- That is, only finished products are being exported now?

- Yes. Before all these increases in duties, we had boards and beams by 90%. Round timber from Buryatia was less than 10%. Therefore, it is not difficult to increase the volume of processing by 10%. And from the increase in the duty on low-processed wood (where the criterion is moisture), taking into account the price increase that took place in China and in our domestic market, timber processors do not lose anything.


About work as the head of the republic

- What are your personal feelings from working in this position? After all, you once moved from Moscow, from the post of Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, to the republic and headed it. Work in the federal government, responsibility for some part of the work of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation - and responsibility for the republic, i.e. work 24/7 - how are they different from each other? And what do you want to achieve as a result, what tasks do you set for yourself, how do you want to see the Republic when you leave your post?

- The differences are dramatic. In a ministry or in business, you work with specific indicators - tons, meters, kilometers - and here you work with the attitude of people and to improve the quality of their life. This is completely different. A person remembers power not at work. If a person comes to work, he has a relationship with his boss, with clients, with anyone, he works. And he remembers the authorities when he left work and goes home: what road is there, is there public transport or not; when picking up a child from kindergarten or school: far from school or not, good school or bad; went to the store - high or low prices for products; came home: he has something in the fridge or not, what account he got for heat, light, clean in the yard or not. The living conditions of a person depend on the authorities. And we are working with this and trying to improve them.

- That is, if a specific person cannot place his child in a kindergarten, then for him it does not matter how many new kindergartens have been introduced?

- Quite right. We have built 20 kindergartens. Whoever got into a new kindergarten - he feels good, who did not get - he feels bad, even if you build a hundred of them. It's the same with the roads. We repair 300 km of roads a year, but if a particular person's road on which he drives every day has not been repaired, then all the other 300 km for him become virtual, the person does not feel these improvements.

We have significantly increased both the volume of construction and the volume of repairs, we have dramatically increased. But people's expectations have also increased.

We must pay tribute to the Government of the Russian Federation and the President for the fact that we are doing a lot both within the framework of federal programs and within the framework of targeted decisions specifically on Buryatia.

- Do you personally manage to achieve these targeted decisions for the Republic?

- Oh sure. All heads of regions, in the good sense of the word, lobby for the interests of their regions.

- Does the entry of Buryatia into the Far Eastern Federal District somehow help the development of your territory?

- This gives a lot both for the social sphere and for business - many different preferential regimes for business, additional opportunities for budget financing, the Far Eastern presidential subsidy, within the framework of which we repair and build schools, and cultural objects ... But at the same time, Buryatia is the fourth from below in terms of budgetary provision in the country, below us is the Jewish region, Transbaikalia. We have a lot of money going (and thanks again to the government) for targeted things - schools, kindergartens, cultural centers, sports facilities, roads. We have a problem to find labor resources of builders to build all this on time. And, not only new construction projects, but current needs - salaries, maintenance of networks, repair of village houses of culture - are significantly underfunded in our country. We have a coefficient of budgetary provision after subsidies from the Ministry of Finance - 0,67. The average in Russia is 0,93, while ours is 0,67.

The entry of Buryatia into the Far Eastern Federal District allowed the region to receive additional measures aimed at supporting the birth rate, these are one-time and monthly payments, preferential mortgages for young families. In our country, 70% of newly born children are covered by various measures of social support.

10,8 thousand families receive payments in connection with the birth of the first and second child. The monthly payment in connection with the birth (adoption) of a third child or subsequent children, and this is almost 2021 thousand rubles since 13, have been issued by more than 10 thousand families. In 2020 and the first half of 2021, about 3 thousand families of Buryatia sold the regional "Far Eastern" capital. Most often, families use these funds to improve their living conditions.

I would like to note that in terms of the birth rate in 2019, Buryatia ranked second among 12 subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District, after the Sakhalin Region.

- What is needed to improve the situation? So that more taxes are collected, so that more enterprises work?

- We will not catch up with taxes. Just for understanding: we have a budget for expenditures of 93 billion, and revenues - 37 billion. The territory is large, the population density is low, there is industry, but it is point-like, the cost of living is high due to climatic conditions. 800 million subsidies 100 million taxes, that is, agriculture is not a source of taxes and income.

We, of course, strive to increase our own income base, and it has grown significantly in recent years, but we will not fully cover our costs with our own income. Most of it is the federal budget.

- And, what is your main goal? How can you see more satisfied people?

- Yes, this is, in principle, the only goal. And satisfaction with life consists of many things: from having a job as such, from a salary, the reliability of this job, confidence in the future, the sufficiency of income, the satisfaction of some basic needs - housing, food, clothing, recreation, education of children. And, if a person does not succeed, then he remembers the state and the power. And if everything is normal with a person, then he may not even notice the authorities. This is the peculiarity of working in this responsible post.

- Here we are talking now, and the clock is Sunday afternoon. Weekends, then, are not always days of rest, but where do you get your strength and energy?

- Probably in the family ...

Thank you and I wish all your plans to come true and achieve your desired goal!

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