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"This must be understood: we are at the very beginning"

Governor of the Amur Region Alexander Kozlov on the changes in the region and the immediate prospects

In the Amur region, the largest investment projects in the Far East are developing: the third year is the construction of the Amur Gas Processing Plant Gazprom, oversees the site for gas chemistry SIBUR, and conducted the second launch of the Vostochny Cosmodrome. At the "Days of the Far East in Moscow," the head of the Amur Region, Alexander Kozlov, explained why and how the agricultural region is gradually turning into an industrial one, and where qualified personnel, large salaries and foreign tourists will come from.

"This must be understood: we are at the very beginning"
Photo: VEF-2017 / TASS Photobank
"WHILE LARGE COMPANIES ARE BUILDING, WE ARE RESTRUCTURING THE GOVERNMENT DEBT"
 
- Let's remember the 2015 year, when the Amur Region became one of the leaders in Russia in terms of reducing budget expenditures - by 13,8%. What happened to the budget over the years?

- In March 2015, before I took office, the state debt of the region was 98%, today it is 76%. Throughout this time, the regional government has been working to reduce the cost of servicing the public debt. Since the beginning of 2017, the interest rate on market loans has been reduced from 10,2% to 8,2% per annum. The measures taken allowed this year to save 432 million rubles, which are directed to the primary expenses of the regional budget.
 
- But these are all the same loans from commercial banks?

- The situation was this: in 2015, out of 30 billion rubles. public debt of about 10 billion rubles. there were budget loans - at a rate of 0,1%, the rest - commercial. Now we have 20 billion rubles. budget loans, and only 10 billion rubles. - commercial. This gives another RUB 1 billion in savings per year. In other words, we have saved more than 1,3 billion rubles only when working with loans. is a lot of money. Thanks to the measures taken, it was possible, for example, to pay off debts on payments of the regional "maternity capital", to begin to fulfill in full the obligations to subsidize the interest rate for the Amur residents who received mortgage loans.
 
- Is debt restructuring accompanied by economic restructuring?

- Rather anticipates her. In 2016, when President Vladimir Putin visited us on a working trip, we discussed these issues. We have been the agricultural capital of the Far East all our lives. And today large corporations come to us: Gazprom, Roscosmos, RusHydro. These are all additional income to the economy. But these are long-term projects with a delayed effect. In order to survive until this money appears in the budget of the Amur Region, the region needed to be supported in terms of the existing public debt. Decisions on debt restructuring for 7 years are, of course, of great help. 

- How big is it in numbers?

- For example, the next year, 2018, we had to return 6,9 billion of state debt. Now taking into account the restructuring - 745 million rubles. What the president has done is the right decision and on time. While large companies are building something, we sent support to agriculture. And there we will develop new branches - with the help of the center, of course.
 
- Is the federal center still willing to help?

- Yes, we continue to receive support. For example, on behalf of the President, in 2016 we were allocated money under the program of resettlement from hazardous housing. This made it possible to relocate people from the barracks. The Amur Region had one of the highest indicators in the country for emergency housing, we simply did not hide it and put everything on record: 319 thousand square meters. meters. Over the four years of the resettlement program, it was possible to resettle 97 thousand "squares". After the president's decision, 82 thousand were resettled in less than a year. Can you imagine: four years and a year? Now there are about 140 thousand "squares". And we are now working with the Ministry of Construction, the Housing and Utilities Reform Fund and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak to receive additional funding and continue this program. This is also a very important task.
 
- How are things going with the execution of another important task, the "May decrees" of the president?

- This is a priority in the formation of any budget. We are making every effort, and the requirements of the "May decrees" in the region are being fulfilled. For the next year, we also provided funds, ensuring the strict implementation of the "May" decrees of the President of Russia on increasing the wages of medical workers, teachers, and cultural workers. The average salary in the region will be 37 thousand rubles. In addition, Amur residents have repeatedly raised the issue of raising the minimum wage for low-paid categories of workers at their meetings. And we did it. From January 1, 2018, in the region, we will pay wages based on the minimum wage plus the regional coefficient.
 
- Do teachers and doctors get the same amount?

- In each category, the salary is determined based on those target indicators of salary growth, which are determined by the presidential decree.
 
- And here are examples that are often talked about: in regional centers, state employees receive an average, and if you drive 100 km away, that's all, there are no such salaries. Is there such a thing?

Regardless of where the specialists work - in the regional center or in remote settlements - the salary depends on the contribution of each employee to the achieved performance indicators of the institution. Effective contracts are concluded with each employee, and the bonus is distributed taking into account the opinion of the collective, trade unions, and the head of the department. Therefore, the approach is individual to any case, such is the system.
 
"CORPORATIONS COME INTO THE REGION, AND FOR THEM - AND NEW INDUSTRIES"
 
- Let's move on to the economy. The region rose to 31st position in the investment climate rating, which assesses the general conditions for doing business, and became the 47th in the country. But the Far Eastern regions are tasked with entering the TOP-30. Do you think it will work out?

- We were highly appreciated at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, but we understand that we cannot be satisfied with what has already been achieved. There are positions that cannot be improved in the rating without serious investments, for example, the cost of cadastral work, we calculated, by delimitation - this is about 400 million rubles. But there are points in the rating related to administrative procedures - for example, reducing the time for supplying electricity, issuing a building permit. I believe that this is within our competence, and we need to work with it.
 
- You spoke about new industries. For the region, this is gas processing, space programs - what else?

- The structure of the "subsidiary" of Rostec will develop the Ogodzhinskoye coal deposit - this is hard coal, export coal, which has never been mined in the Amru region. The gas chemical plant, as you know, is supposed to build SIBUR.

- The company will make an investment decision this year?

- It would be more correct to ask top management about this, but we are waiting for this decision.

- You can be proud of the arrival of large corporations, but they would probably come to you without any preferences. But how are the created territories of advanced development, which are three, and other support measures attract medium business?

- You correctly noted: we have created several priority development areas (TOR). The first is gas, in the city of Svobodny. Indeed, large companies are registered there, and besides, they incur additional costs for social infrastructure - after all, everything is built there "from scratch." But TOR "Belogorsk" is an agricultural TOR. And there the preferences are aimed precisely at the development of medium-sized businesses. The money saved on taxes allowed the investor in the oil extraction plant, which was launched by the President in the video bridge mode at the third Eastern Economic Forum, to build two houses for his employees - to transport them from the regional center to Belogorsk. The bakery plant in the TOR "Belogorsk" is generally a small business; it has updated its equipment to save on taxes. Small businesses that supply fertilizers for agriculture are registered in the Priamurskaya PDA. And TOP is waiting for its investors after the completion of the construction of the bridge across the Amur.

- In what time frame will this happen?

- As you remember, they talked about the bridge for 25 years, and the work began only in December 2016. Now everything is on schedule, according to which construction should be completed by the end of 2019. Yes, the task is getting more complicated: to the main bridge it is necessary to make a bridge across a channel 258 meters long and 14 kilometers of access roads, a viaduct. But I'm sure the builders can handle it. And by creating the Priamurskaya TOP, we formed a base - as soon as the bridge is commissioned, it will be necessary to build a logistics center. And our site is already ready.

- Another major project, joint with the Chinese investor, is Amur Refinery. What's with him now: frozen, coming?

- As far as we know, the Chinese company, which announced the implementation of this project, was able to take advantage of the preferences within the TOP and registered. Now the investor is at the design stage and is in negotiations with Rosneft and Transneft companies regarding raw materials. This is a business. We, as a government, have created a territory of priority development. And capital for the sake of money will always agree.

-Agriculture will not be thrown, what are the tasks for the development of this industry?

- We are constantly introducing land into circulation and increasing the yield per hectare. This year, 1,3 million tons of soybeans were harvested - this is the first result in the country.

- Exporting?

- Yes, it is obligatory: we ship outside the region only to Irkutsk, to the oil and fat plant, the rest we sell abroad. But you need to understand: if you constantly sow soybeans, the immunity of the soil drops, respectively, the yield will not be like that. Back in 2016, we raised the issue at the Security Council of the Russian Federation that it is necessary to allow the export of wheat to China. This will allow maintaining the crop rotation: alternating soybeans with wheat. This decision was made this year. We have created a working group in order to smoothly bring business to this, take into account the experience of other regions and not repeat their mistakes. We are waiting for the next step - for corn. It is difficult to get into the Chinese market; first of all, they support their own.
 
- Yes, and Russian meat is not allowed there.

- Nevertheless, we also support animal husbandry. In terms of milk among other neighbors, we are far ahead, it is valued even in China. This year we have commissioned a farm for 490 heads of cattle, we are introducing pig farms - all companies are local.
 
"YOUNG PEOPLE WILL SAY ON YOUR OWN EXAMPLE: DO NOT HURT"
 
-Many projects you listed, and all the large-scale. Do you have any shots for them?

- The question is multifaceted, and I would first answer the following: what are we doing in terms of personnel for new industries. First of all, the employment department for the Amur Region is doing a lot of retraining work - this is painstaking work. An equally important issue is youth, and here we need to act for the future. In 2011, my predecessor, Oleg Kozhemyako, with Roscosmos, convinced future students and their parents: your children should enter the Amur State University for the "space" department. As a result, out of 48 people who passed the training, 47 work in the region and received apartments in Tsiolkovsky. This result was given by joint work. We are ready for it. Gazprom is opening specialized "gas" classes for itself, we link secondary technical education and the Amur State University as a pivotal university, so that the complex would be: class - technical school - higher education. We continue to work with Roscosmos, SIBUR, the Ministry of Emergencies - begins preliminary training at the school level.

- This encourages young people not to leave, do you see such results?

- People always want to move, this is normal. But the Amur Region has a very good training base. Let's say the power engineering department - we train personnel for the entire power industry of the Far East. Training through Gazprom is also a good anchor for children. When we opened the "Gazprom" class in the technical school in Svobodny, it was equipped according to the most modern requirements. But this also applies to other areas, for example, at the Far Eastern Agrarian State University, which trains personnel for the village, the manufacturer of combines agreed to supply a modern model of its products. It is very important for the employer that specialists come to him who know modern technology, and not 1970s.

-However, not on all specialties can one get an education in the region?

- Today we have all the flagship universities. We are the breadbasket of the Far East - we have the Far Eastern Agrarian University, we have the Soybean Institute - the only one in the country. There is the Amur State Medical Academy, the Amur State University, which is becoming a reference point for space, for the Gazprom company. And, you know, it was pleasant when I saw a young chemistry teacher at a technical school, who herself graduated from the Amur Pedagogical University. This is a “closed loop”, in technical terms. And we need it!

- Are you born in the Amur Region?

- I was born in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, but yes, I received my secondary and higher education in the Amur Region.

- As one of the youngest governors of Russia, what would you say to the youth of the Far East, what should be the motivation to stay?

- I will say: take your time, this is the first. The second point is not to chase after money. When I worked in the coal industry, senior comrades said: “Alexander, don't believe these advertisements. When you achieve certain victories, then you will be judged and you will be given everything. " And, in fact, it is so. When money is not a priority, but a goal. I earned money for my first car when I worked as a legal adviser: it turned out to return additional funds to the company, I was given a bonus, and I bought my first car.
 
- How old were you?

- I was 21-22 years old. I was taught to work, and I believe that you need to become an expert in your field. And when you become a good specialist, you will always be pulled further, because you are in demand. The market for professional people, and at the same time responsible, is very small, and everyone is waiting for them today. Today quality is required, quality in the profession - and in everything. I remember myself, I worked at an enterprise in a difficult period - it was in bankruptcy proceedings. His wife then worked as a psychologist at school. I - until XNUMX am: you come, sleep, and tomorrow morning - go to the trial. They worked - and were appreciated by their salary, and prospects, and communication, and contacts, and the opportunity to prove themselves.

-How does a person who made a career at a fairly young age, how do you rate the contest "Leaders of Russia"?

- I think it's excellent. This is an opportunity to realize yourself in the future. At our coal enterprise, a personnel reserve worked: you could end up at the open pit from the office, then go through various movements - both horizontally and vertically. It's great, in fact, we dream to do it in our region.

"IN THE EARLY AGRARIAN IN THE AMUR REGION," THE WHEEL IS COMING ""

- If you compare, what area was about ten years ago and now, what can you say?

- I'm not afraid of these expressions: "A wheel comes to us." That is, industrialization comes to the Amur Region. Because it was a whole agricultural life, and the monument to the trader - the "shuttle" at the Amur Fair - is a symbol of the new time. Now comes another time.
 
- But do you still need to use the export potential?

- The factor of the border with China cannot be ignored. Today, the difference in the value of currencies has contributed to the fact that, firstly, the Chinese go shopping to Russia, and secondly, our entrepreneurs can start delivering there: confectionery, perfumery, dairy products, flour, cigarettes ... An equally important factor is tourism. The Chinese people today believe that everyone should visit the north. And when he arrives in the northern city of Heihe on the banks of the Amur, and you need to cross only 750 meters to Blagoveshchensk in order to be "in Europe" - it is worth doing. And we - to use it. Today we have a turn, we are the third most visited constituent entity of the Russian Federation in the country by tourists from China, and we are working with the business community to create normal, correct conditions for a Chinese tourist.

"Is this hotels?" Or a beautiful promenade?

- Our embankment has changed: people walk there, there is no such thing in Moscow. This is the facade of the country, and it is strikingly different from what it was during my student days. Today it is musical and creative: artists perform there, and many events take place. But for Chinese tourism, logistics is primarily important. The bridge, which we have already talked about, will allow buses to travel regardless of seasonality, plus a cable car project across the Amur is being worked out. The issues related to the hotel business are also important.

- Are there four-star hotels?

- Not yet.

- But is someone going to build?

- So let's say - while they look and believe. All such projects, which will stimulate the development of the hotel business, are tied to Gazprom, Sibur, and Roskosmos. For example, with the latter and with RZhD we are preparing an agreement - we want to make a car that will travel from Blagoveshchensk to the cosmodrome and back. We are now at the very beginning. They think the announcement sounded that these large companies are entering the region - and this is the end. In fact, it is only the beginning of a big joint way to develop the region. The same effect of the multiplier: how many enterprises arise around, to build plants, then to service them, then factories for plants will appear next to the factories. And with the hotels the business will cope for sure!
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