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Before China here will soon be a bridge to submit
Governor of the EAO Alexander Levintal on the achievements of the region in 2016, plans and hopes
Photo: TASS / RIF
- According to the results of the last year, EAO showed impressive results against the background of other Far Eastern subjects in terms of growth rates in the mining industry and construction. Almost one billion has increased the revenue side of the regional budget. Surely behind all this are some successfully implemented projects?
- Yes, 2016 made us happy with some economic indicators. Especially with regard to the sector "mining". Here, production has grown by 86% compared to 2015. First of all, this is due to the beginning of the shipment of finished products by our largest industry enterprise - Kimkano-Sutarsky GOK, an increase in brucite mining.
The builders also did a good job. The volume of work performed in the industry increased by 12,6%. In 2016, 75,9 thousand square meters were commissioned in the region. meters of housing, which is 27,5% of last year.
Compared to the year before last, the region's enterprises produced 70% more building materials and furniture, 46% more knitwear. Investment in fixed assets is insignificant, but also increased - by 0,7% and amounted to almost 13 billion rubles.
All this made it possible to increase the tax base in the region by 18%. For comparison, the average growth rate of tax and non-tax revenues to the consolidated budgets in Russia (for 2016) is 8%, and in the Far East - 3%. In order to increase the non-tax income base, we are working on an inventory of land plots, increasing financial receipts from land lease. As a result, the volume of lease payments for land plots in the region increased by 56,2% last year.
Dossier EastRussia. Levintal Alexander Borisovich, Governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region. Was born on October 18, 1957 in Birobidzhan. He began his career in 1979 as an employee of the Institute of Economic Research of the Far East Scientific Center of the USSR Academy of Sciences (Khabarovsk), Doctor of Economics, Professor. Since 1990, he worked in the administration of the Khabarovsk Territory, where he rose to the position of Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of Economic Development and Foreign Relations. From 2009 to 2013 - Deputy Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Far Eastern Federal District. In 2013, he served as the rector of the Far Eastern State University. From October 2013 to February 2015 - First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Khabarovsk Territory for Economic Affairs. In February 2015, by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation, he was appointed Acting Governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region. On September 14, 2015 he was elected governor of the region.
- What is the situation with the state debt of the region today? Are you able to reduce it?
- At the beginning of the year it was five billion rubles, which is approximately equal to the regional budget's own revenues. Commercial loans actually constitute the bulk of the government debt. But we have no problems with payment, we do not admit any delays or delays.
The plans for the next two or three years are to reduce the size of the state debt to 50% of the budget's own revenues. We are working with the Ministry of Finance to replace bank loans with budgetary ones. The interest rate for banking was 17-13%, for budget - 0,1%. The region has developed, approved and is implementing a program to improve the state finances of the region. The essence of this program is to increase the revenue side of the budget by stimulating and revitalizing economic activity in the region and optimizing the expenditure side of the budget.
- In the Jewish Autonomous Region last year there was a real construction boom. What is the reason for this?
- First of all, with the fact that the regional government was actively implementing the state program of resettlement of people from hazardous housing. With the funds of this program, we financially supported construction companies, and also allocated them additional resources from the regional budget.
As a result, in 2016, the region fulfilled the indicator for the resettlement of citizens from emergency housing, established by the Fund for Assistance to Housing and Utilities Reform. New apartments were received by residents of 40 houses, recognized as emergency before January 1, 2012. This is almost 650 inhabitants of the region. Nine new buildings were built for them in Birobidzhan, the villages of Teploozersk and Smidovich, more than 13 thousand square meters of housing in total. If we keep this pace, we hope to completely eliminate the emergency housing stock in the region. The main thing is that the program should be continued.
In total (due to the intensification of the activities of construction companies) in 2016, 75 thousand square meters of housing were put into operation in the Jewish Autonomous Region. This is almost 28 percent more than last year. The indicator of the growth rate of housing construction in the Jewish Autonomous Region is one of the best in the Far East. Newly erected private houses accounted for about 30% of the houses built.
- And what is the average salary in the region today?
- Without small 32 thousand rubles a month. 31,9 thousand rubles, if more precisely. For example, in the Khabarovsk Territory - 41,1 thousand rubles. Therefore, today one of the main social tasks facing us is to increase the average wage in the region and consolidate the population. This can be done primarily through the development of those sectors of the economy where labor is paid fairly well: the mining industry, logistics, road and rail transport.
- Today, the regions need to attract business in the territory, create a favorable environment for it. And the Jewish Autonomous Region, of course ...
- Fair words. But another thing is also true - conditions must be created not only for business, but also for people who live here, so that they feel comfortable. The Far East must be steadily brought up to the average Russian living standards. And here I pin great hopes on the measure that the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President Yuri Petrovich Trutnev and the RF Ministry for the Development of the Far East managed to implement - to prescribe separate sections on the Far East in all state federal programs concerning the development of Russia as a whole.
- And how is the federal law on the free "Far Eastern hectare" initiated by Yuri Trutnev implemented in the EAO?
- More than 2000 applications have already been submitted. These are mainly statements from the Khabarovsk Territory and our region. But there are those who want to take land in our region and from residents of other regions of Russia: Amur, Moscow, Leningrad, Tula, Rostov regions, the Republic of Tatarstan, the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg and others. More than 300 applicants have been issued agreements on gratuitous use of land. More than 160 contracts are in progress. People take land mainly for personal subsidiary farming, agricultural use, individual housing, gardening and beekeeping. There are also collective applications.
- On the issue of attracting a business. Everyone knows that the EAO took the first place in the national investment rating among the Far Eastern subjects of the Russian Federation in 2016. Due to what you can create a comfortable business environment?
- There are many factors that work. For example, we have the shortest construction permit procedure in the Far East. Minimized the impact of regulatory and supervisory bodies on business ...
- Only the Amur River separates the Jewish Autonomous Region from the Chinese province of Heilongjiang. How effective are business relations with neighbors?
- Literally in January, a delegation of our commodity producers visited three cities of Heilongjiang province - Tongjiang, Lobei and Hegang with a business mission. Business meetings were held on the supply of products manufactured in the EAO to retail outlets in the province's border areas. As a result, a number of agreements of intent were signed to open duty-free shops for Russian goods in Chinese cities and to supply food products from Russia to the People's Republic of China.
But our foreign economic relations are not limited only to neighboring China. In autumn of this year, a visit of the delegation of the Jewish Autonomous Region to the State of Israel is planned. We will present the presentation of the region, its advantages and potentialities. We will try to attract Israeli investors to our agriculture and communal sphere.
- You mentioned neighboring Tongjiang. But a railway bridge is being built up to it from the Russian bank of the Amur. How is the construction progress, which began last summer?
- The construction of the bridge is in full swing. In general, we manage to adhere to the production schedule. Let me remind you that the commissioning of the bridge is scheduled for June 2018.
If at the beginning there were some organizational problems associated with the choice of the general contractor, the development of the financing scheme, then in the end they were all resolved. Now, already in the course of construction, issues arise that are resolved in a working order. The progress of the project is under constant control of the regional government. In order to coordinate interaction and assist in the construction of the bridge, a working group has been created, which I head. It includes representatives of executive authorities, local government, as well as representatives of the customer and contractor for the construction of the bridge.
- Basically, the bridge will transport the products of the Kimkano-Sutarsky GOK?
- Yes, iron ore from the plant is the basic kind of cargo. At the first stage, cargo transportation at the level of 5 million tons per year is planned for the bridge, of which more than 3 million tons are produced by the Kikano-Sutarsky GOK. In the future, cargo turnover will increase, various export-import cargoes will be transported along the bridge, including ore, timber, agricultural products, food, building materials, equipment, consumer goods and other types of goods.
- In your speeches, you have repeatedly called the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang bridge a powerful driver of economic growth. Not only for its cross-border status and cargo functionality, but also because the territory adjacent to the bridge will actively develop. It is planned to locate some of the resident enterprises that have entered the territory of advanced development (TOP) "Amuro-Khinganskaya". And how many residents have applied to the TOP, what kind of production facilities will they open?
- The TOP at the initial stage included 4 residents. Two Chinese companies, one Russian and another Russian-Chinese joint venture. A plant for the production of sandwich panels and metal structures will be built in Birobidzhan, and a mining and processing plant for the production of graphite in the Oktyabrsky District. It is planned to build a hotel, an exhibition complex, a soybean processing plant, and a woodworking industry directly near the bridge. The total investment in the ASEZ is about 17 billion rubles.
- In the industrial park Amur, which has been operating on the territory of the Smidovichi district for more than ten years, have Chinese investments also been made?
- Yes, the holding company Priamurskiy Industrial Park comprises 5 enterprises with Chinese investments. The main activities - production of building materials, metal structures, processing of wood, foam and sandwich panels, plastic products. The park is working quite successfully today.
- And what in terms of investment potential is a business incubator, opened in November last year in the territory of Birobidzhan, the regional center?
- This is an organization aimed at comprehensive support for projects of start-up entrepreneurs (who have become residents) at all stages of development: from developing an idea to its commercialization. The business incubator of the EAO has already received over forty investment applications worth almost a billion rubles. Of these, at the beginning of the year, 16 applications were approved for about 250 million rubles. I must say right away that preference at the selection stage is given to business projects focused on industrial production and high technologies.
The entrepreneurs who received the approval of their investment projects created limited liability companies together with the business incubator of the EAO. That is, they became both its residents and business partners. The first projects receive funding. It will be provided by Vostochny Bank, which is a partner of the JAO government and the founder of the business incubator. The incubator is ready, as a partner, to build a business together with a resident by entering into the authorized capital of the LLC being created. If after a certain period of time the business proves itself to be confidently on its feet and profitable, the bank can offer such a resident a loan, the amount of which is discussed individually.
The business incubator is supported by the Agency for Attracting Investments and Supporting Entrepreneurship, created in September 2016. In its structure, since March 2017, a Support Center for representatives of small and medium-sized businesses has been functioning. Here you can get comprehensive advice on starting and running a business, use legal services, improve your qualifications. There is also an opportunity to apply for participation in a business mission in the regions neighboring with the EAO free of charge. Entrepreneurs of the region can also receive, at the expense of the Center, services for certification of products, production of advertising, take part in exhibitions and fairs of business centers in the Far East.
- Tell me, what are the prospects for tourism in the Jewish Autonomous Region?
- There are certainly such prospects. And I largely associate the development of this industry with event tourism. For example, recently we celebrated the 95th anniversary of the battle at Volochaevka. So, people from different parts of Russia gathered on the Jun-Koran hill. They came to our area to visit these historical sites, to touch the past. Today the regional government is making a lot of efforts to fully restore the memorial complex on the hill, this is very important. We plan to do this by the 100th anniversary of the Volochaev battle.
Another example is the International Jewish Festival of Culture and Art. This is a landmark event for the Jewish Autonomous Region. It is no secret that the Jewish Autonomous Region has gained recognition as the center of Jewish culture in the Far East. From year to year it attracts tourists not only from Russia, but also from other countries. We can say that interest in Jewish culture and art is constantly growing.
There are all the prerequisites for the region to receive an additional impetus to the development of ecological and health tourism. For example, in the picturesque Bastak reserve with unique flora and fauna, an ecological route operates all year round. He acquaints tourists with the beauty of the Far Eastern taiga. The most interesting routes along the Amur River have been developed and are popular. The resort area of the village of Kuldur, which is 130 km northwest of Birobidzhan, is famous for its unique nitrogen-siliceous thermal waters.
EastRussia help. The Jewish Autonomous Region (area -36,3 thousand square kilometers, population 164, 2 thousand people) is located in the southern part of the Russian Far East: in the west it borders on the Amur Region, in the east - with the Khabarovsk Territory, in the south - along the Amur River - with China. The region has access to the seas of the Pacific Ocean through the Amur waterway. The Trans-Siberian Railway passes through its territory, which provides the shortest routes from Western Europe and the Middle East to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and the Chita federal highway-Khabarovsk. Accordingly, the goods that go to the Far East by rail and road do not pass the region.