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Money promised to return

Elena Sudakova, acting Minister of Investments and External Relations of the Sakhalin Region, told EastRussia why the island does not want to build its economy only on oil and gas

Money promised to return
- Elena Viktorovna, that it is necessary to attract investors to the regions of the Far East, it is said everywhere and constantly. But good intentions alone are not enough for this, and the crisis does not affect the investment climate in the best way. Nevertheless, the Sakhalin Oblast is ahead of many other regions in this respect; a number of ambitious and long-term projects have been announced and are already being implemented. Why do you succeed and why are you better than others?

- Life itself forces us to be active in this direction. We try to use all the opportunities that are presented to us to attract investments in the region's economy. By the way, there are many of them, regardless of the crisis. For example, the recently held Eastern Economic Forum allowed us to show our best practices and demonstrate the economic and investment potential of Sakhalin and the Kuriles. And we immediately felt a clear interest in the region from Russian and foreign businessmen.

- And how were things before?

- Good too. The investment situation is assessed positively. Over the past year, the growth amounted to 16% of investments in fixed assets. The region's economy has accumulated USD 45,8 billion of foreign investment; we are one of the leaders in the country. The economy is developing dynamically. The GRP volume is 793 billion rubles, industrial products - 772 billion rubles.

But we look at this situation realistically, trying to anticipate and solve problems before they appear. It is clear that the basis of our economy is made up of offshore projects in oil and gas production. After in the middle 90-x biennium Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) were signed, foreign capital came to the region - Exxon Mobil, Shell and other major world companies, united in consortia on the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects. A huge amount of money was invested in them, and now we have already entered the commercial production of oil and gas. There are no problems with sales: all gas has been contracted, oil is also sold in the APR countries, revenues from oil and gas production have allowed the region to make a real leap forward in the last decade. For comparison: in 1996 our budget was 2 billion rubles, now it is almost 200 billion rubles. Even adjusted for inflation, the difference is colossal.

All this is wonderful, but fraught with one danger - we risk getting a “mono-economy” based only on the extraction of raw materials. It is necessary to diversify, move towards high technologies, and involve all natural potential in the economic circulation. Now we can afford it - and we do it.

As you know, there is never a lot of money. No matter how many of them there are, there will always be a lack. We still have a lot of problems, and the main one is due to geography, not politics or economics. We are an island region after all. And although on the one hand this is an advantage, since sea communication allows you to expand the range of supplies, but on the other, it is a disadvantage: we are cut off from the rest of the country in terms of transport, we have a closed energy system and low infrastructure provision. We are not alone in facing such problems - for example, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the largest of the subjects of the Federation, is experiencing the same difficulties. And they have to be solved in the most logical way. For example, Sakhalin now needs to develop its own food complex, including the fishing industry, diversify and introduce into economic circulation everything that we are rich in - subsoil (Sakhalin has both peat and gold), forest, natural objects for the development of tourism. ..

The infrastructure will be built for new production facilities. This is rational in relation to budget expenditures, efficient in terms of their use, since when creating new industries, future budget revenues are generated. This principle is implemented in new mechanisms for economic development in the Far East - territories of advanced development, the Far East Development Fund, and support for specific projects.

- Will there be priority development areas (TOR) in the Sakhalin Region?

- We have prepared and sent applications for the creation of three ASEZs with a specialization in "agriculture", "tourism", and TOP on the Kuril Islands. The PDA regime can be extended to 46 residents who are implementing 19 business projects and will spend 30,7 billion rubles of private investment on them. As a result, modern livestock breeding complexes for the production of 5 thousand tons of meat and 33 thousand tons of milk will be created in the Sakhalin region. The tourist complex "Mountain Air", on the basis of which one of the TOP will be created, will become a modern ski resort with the widest geography of skiing in Russia (4 mountains) on natural snow. More than 250 thousand tourists will be served annually. Economic development in the Kuril Islands requires additional preferences. Along with the new federal program for the development of the territory, TOPs will create the best favorable treatment for business. Mostly these will be new projects in the fishing industry - salmon hatcheries, mariferous farms, fish processing, processing of fish waste. Balneological tourism and the extraction of precious metals (gold and silver) will also be developed in the Kuriles.

We expect the creation of more than 3 thousand jobs and 4 billion rubles per year in tax returns from the implementation of investment projects within the framework of the announced TOPs, taking into account the tax benefits provided.

- Did you manage to conclude any important agreements with potential partners during the Eastern Economic Forum?

- Perhaps one of the main events of this event for us is the signing of an agreement on the creation of a fish exchange in the Sakhalin Region. The document was signed by the Governor of the Sakhalin Region Oleg Kozhemyako and the President and Chairman of the Management Board of Sberbank of Russia German Gref.

The idea of ​​this project was put forward by the head of the island region. At the first stage, it provides for conducting pilot electronic auctions for the sale of aquatic biological resources, and developing the concept of auction trade.

At the second stage, it is necessary to select a fish exchange operator, attract investors and create the necessary infrastructure in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. It will include a refrigerator for 10 thousand tons, warehouse and office premises, fish processing and waste disposal facilities. All this is planned to be built in 2017. At the third stage, a full-fledged fish cluster will be created, including a large number of suppliers of fish products and wholesale companies.

Only a few weeks have passed since the agreement was concluded. The trading section "Fish Market" is already operating at the universal electronic platform of CJSC Sberbank-AST.

At the first auction, which will take place in the coming days, large consignments of aquatic biological resources worth over one hundred million rubles are exhibited.

The range of fish products is wide: pink salmon, caviar, cod, pollock, flounder, navaga, scallop, shrimp. The number of participants is constantly growing. Anyone can take part in the auction - enterprises not only in the Far East, but also in other regions of the country.

Before the start of regular trading, various technical issues are resolved, which will make it as convenient as possible for sellers and buyers. Bidders will be able to play not only for an increase, but also for a decrease in prices.

- How will this affect the end consumer of fish products?

- Today, fish products reach store shelves mainly through a long chain of dealers. As a result, the price rises. The implementation of the fish exchange project, launched in the Sakhalin Region, will lead to the conclusion of direct contracts between suppliers and retail chains. It is planned that for the end consumer fish products will become significantly cheaper. The fishery will also benefit. Its sales volumes will grow, there will be guarantees of product sales. And retail chains, receiving fresh goods directly and without additional margins, will be able to increase sales.

The project that we are launching fully complies with the long-term policy of our state aimed at providing the population with fish products at an affordable price.

However, the fish exchange is not the only result of the participation of the Sakhalin region in the work of the Eastern Economic Forum. In particular, we signed four agreements in the field of agro-industrial complex with the Belgorod region (Agrobelogorie JSC, Prioskolye group of companies), which is a leader in the production of agricultural products. In this case, it is especially important for us that such partners have personnel, competencies and technologies that will help to quickly solve the problems of our food security. Now 70% of products on Sakhalin are imported. Our own dairy production now provides only 27% of the region's needs, meat by 7%. It is clear that we will not be able to completely abandon the import, but it is still important to start projects related to providing the population of the island with local vegetables grown in open and closed ground, meat, milk, as well as feed for agricultural enterprises. Moreover, the projects in question are designed for the near future, their horizon is three years.

- Have large agricultural holdings like Rusagro come to you? They are already working in Primorye.

- No, specifically "Rusagro" is not yet on Sakhalin. But Primorye residents also appeared. The company "Mercy Group" commissioned in September a pig farm for 12 thousand heads and is completing the design 2-oh queues for 50 thousand heads. The first stage of production was built in fact in six months, then the breeding stock was brought in, within three months the main production facilities were completed and now we are ready to start production in full. In addition, the company plans to open a breeding and genetic center on Sakhalin for raising a breeding herd, which will work not only for domestic consumption, but also for export.

As for the already mentioned agreements with the agro-industrial complex "Belogorye", the regional authorities are ready to finance up to 90% of the capital costs for the construction of modern farms from the regional budget. This is a complex production in terms of return on investment, so this support is extremely important. Taking into account other projects (including those under an agreement with Green Agro), we hope to reach approximately 2018% of our own milk supply by 55. That would be very good for us.

But one agricultural industry is not all. In addition to food, the region needs a lot more. That is why, together with the Far East Development Fund, we are now discussing several complex infrastructure projects. With the arrival of a new team led by Alexey Chekunkov to this fund, the work finally revived and entered a constructive track. The Fund and the Government of the Sakhalin Region have already begun to create a platform on which combined methods of supporting investment projects will be applied at the expense of the region and the Fund.

- What are these projects and how much are they estimated?

- I will not give specific figures now, since at this stage we are talking about intentions and the process of discussing prospects. We expressed our readiness to invest in the modernization of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk airport complex. The fact is that the airport itself is federal property, and the terminal is regional. And this object is morally and physically out of date. If we strive for the development of tourism (and we strive), the main air gates of Sakhalin must be thoroughly rebuilt and beautified.

There is also a very promising project in the field of solid waste disposal, for which our region has been chosen as a "pilot" one. We have already held preliminary negotiations with the Eco-System company, which is ready to build waste sorting stations in several regions of Sakhalin that meet the highest environmental standards. The Regional Ministry of Natural Resources is currently evaluating the production and technologies that are planned to be used in this project. Our department calculates its financial model, considers and evaluates legal and other aspects of investing funds.

Naturally, projects in the traditional Sakhalin fishing industry and fish processing will also be carried out. We are the leaders in the country in aquaculture, and in the Asia-Pacific region, if I am not mistaken, we occupy a niche of 15% of the entire market. We have 41 salmon hatcheries (including 25 private, the rest are state-owned), about 830 million fry are released for feeding per year. This ensures the return of about 80 thousand tons of salmon fish annually - this fish, as you know, once every 4 years comes to spawn where it was born. Fishery companies are expressing their readiness to double the number of factories, invest in fish farming science and improve processing technologies. By the way, our competitors do the same - the Japanese, the Americans in Alaska, etc.

There are a number of interesting ideas - for example, to create joint ventures with the Japanese to grow seaweed, which is the basis of their diet, but ours is not very popular. Or grow scallops, sea cucumbers, shrimps, crabs. The process is long and painstaking. And we need to hurry up with the construction of such production facilities, if only because Chinese competitors are also on the alert and at a certain moment can “strangle us with volumes” on the market for similar products. But for the time being, we leave them far behind in taste: our seafood, grown in natural conditions, is in much greater demand.

- How will the Sakhalin ports develop?

- Governor Oleg Nikolaevich Kozhemyako has already signed an agreement of intent with Rosmorport. This document provides for the development of port infrastructure in Nevelsk, Korsakov and Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky.

- Only in these three ports? But what about Poronaisk and others?

- You can't build a port for the sake of a port. He must have a sufficient cargo base for the project to be profitable and pay off over time. Back in Soviet times, Nevelsk was a large fishing port, a large-scale and respectable enterprise, employing about 12 thousand people. The bases of the trawl fleet entered there, bunkering of vessels was carried out, fish processing enterprises worked. After the 2007 earthquake, the port water area and fairway changed. But even before that, in the post-Soviet period, almost all port structures and services fell into decay. Now Nevelsk is being revived. It all started when coal mining began in the Nevelsky District a few years ago. Our domestic market for this raw material is limited, since key power generation facilities are now balanced and are being converted to gas, except for GRES-2. This means that coal is exported - and Nevelsk is the best suited for its shipment. Naturally, other general cargoes will also be shipped from the modernized port. The fishermen also need a port: documents for the caught fish are still drawn up at the coast, where the relevant veterinary, border and customs services are located. The Nevelskoy port is now managed by Gornyak-2 (and Gornyak-1 was developing the Shebuninsky coal deposits in the Nevelsky region, now the company is relocating to the central part of Sakhalin, will increase coal production and is extremely interested in the development of a system of port services).

With the port of Korsakov, everything is also clear - last year 1,2 million tons of cargo passed through it, and it receives cruise liners. In Korsakov it is necessary to make a sea terminal and a normal checkpoint, improve the service at the raid. Now there are difficulties when a tourist ship comes - a three-thousander with tourists, and we cannot provide them with the necessary level of comfort on the shore. Meanwhile, tourism for us is one of the priorities. And our tourists are quite specific - 90% of them are elderly Japanese, for whom Sakhalin was their homeland until 1945, many old people have graves of relatives, Shinto temples, etc. There are many of them, and special attention is required to them, at least because of their age.

As for the Aleksandrovsky port in the northern part of Sakhalin, this area is quite depressed. The development of woodworking production is called upon to somewhat improve the economic climate. The project is being implemented with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, funds from Russian and foreign banks are attracted. On Sakhalin, conditions are more difficult than in the Khabarovsk Territory - our forest is located in hard-to-reach places where timber roads have to be pushed through. But the costs should pay off.

- What will the Sakhalin forest be used for?

- The project provides for the creation of a modern woodworking production, the manufacture of sawing boards, and from waste - technological chips (shavings, from which you can make anything, from MDF to briquettes). It is also planned to produce wood pellets - they are in demand in Japan, China and Korea in the wake of the desire for "green energy" and in accordance with the Kyoto Protocols, according to which a certain share of the energy market must operate on biofuels. In addition, the enterprises will manufacture products for wooden housing construction. And we are building a lot of housing - in five years we should commission 1 million square meters, that is, 250-300 sq.m per year. In rural areas, houses are mainly built of wood. 

All these examples are a clear demonstration of the fact that Russia really can do much more than is expected of it. 10 years ago, we had no conditions for almost anything of what we talked about today. We had a colossal budget deficit and a business that was completely unprepared to invest in anything. And now we are seeing a huge leap in development. We start small, we do not aim at unrealistic megaprojects, but slowly and confidently move along the planned path to success. I think in five years we will again have something to talk about and for which to feel sincere pride.
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