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"We need to talk about the multiplicative effect for the economy"

Alexander Levintal, Governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region - in an interview with EastRussia

"We need to talk about the multiplicative effect for the economy"
On the eve of the second Eastern Economic Forum, the Russian government approved a decree on the creation of another Amur-Khinganskaya Advanced Territory Development Area (PDA). This is the 13 TOR in the Far East and the first is in the smallest region of the district, the Jewish Autonomous Region. The new TOR will be located in Birobidzhan and two districts of the JAR - Leninsky and Oktyabrsky, it will create more than 1 thousand jobs, the total investment of currently existing TOR is 17,1 billion rubles, and tax revenues to budgets of all levels for 2016 – 2025 years will be 11,2 billion rubles. According to the governor of the only autonomous region in Russia, Alexander Levinthal, for the region the emergence of PDA is a unique opportunity for accelerated economic development and, as a result, for raising the standard of living of the population.

- Alexander Borisovich, what is the main plus from the appearance of TOP in your region?
- In fact, we received an additional development tool, which is used only in the Far East. TOP is an exclusive measure for attracting investments, by creating preferences, granting tax breaks for business, administrative simplifications, so that it would be easier and more profitable for companies to work in the given territory. Until recently, such accelerated development zones were established in all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District. We actively worked with the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, prepared documents, selected residents. They went through all the necessary steps and received a government decree according to which such a territory appeared in the EAO.

- What is the role of regional authorities in the process of formation of TOPs?
- The role is big. First, we were the initiators of its creation. Secondly, we conducted an active work on the selection of projects, engaged in the docking of various administrative decisions, etc. After all, in our TOP there are foreign investors - Chinese companies. So, on the Amurskaya site (residents of LLC Amurprom and LLC Logistics), a comprehensive production facility will be created in the Leninsky district, including soybean processing plants, timber processing facilities, a hotel and exhibition and fair complex. There - the Russian-Chinese enterprises. LLC "Dalgrafit" plans to organize enterprises on two sites. On the site "Soyuznaya" in Oktyabrsky district, it is planned to create a full cycle enterprise for the extraction and enrichment of graphite ore with the capacity of 40 thousand tons of graphite per year. On the "Ungun" site, a transshipment complex will be built at the station. Ungun in the Leninsky district for the shipment of finished products (graphite concentrate). In the city of Birobidzhan on the BirZM site (resident - Birobidzhan Metalwork Plant), it is planned to build a plant for the production of 30 thousand tons of metal structures per year.

- What do the residents of the TOP need from you as from the authorities?
- First of all, companies waited for benefits. We are the government of the EAO - we commit ourselves to tax incentives, in particular, to zero out the regional portion of the profit tax. Of course, we are deprived of possible revenues if the enterprises worked in the usual way, without preferences. But they will pay personal income tax and a number of other taxes, the same property tax. In the aggregate, we lose, but in fact, I always stress this, we get it, because if there were no preferences, the companies would not come to us. They are attracted by the preferential treatment. And then, when the benefits are over, we will receive all these taxes, because they will be paid in full. But most importantly, it seems to me that small and medium-sized businesses will "sprout" around big soybean processing and woodworking plants, satellite companies, the service sector, transport, etc., will inevitably appear. The economic picture will become more vibrant, everything will start moving. The personnel will have to live somewhere, the turnover will increase. In other words, one can not speak only of what is happening in the TOP itself - it is necessary to talk about the multiplicative effect for the economy.

- Do you have estimates of how the economy of the region will grow through the work of the TOP?
- We will talk about the projects of the first stage. Because the projects are actually more - we initially looked 8-9 sites, but then part of it was cut off. Not because they are bad, just not everywhere the degree of project readiness was high. I will give an example of graphite. We extract graphite, enrich and we overload the railway station. And there was a project for the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles in Birobidzhan. But while we postponed it to the second stage, since the design and estimate documentation is not yet ready. In general, there is an opportunity to expand the TOP. And we consciously went for it. As for the growth of investments, then consider yourself. In the first five years of the announced 17 billion rubles will be invested, maybe 15 billion - that is, we will receive about 3 billion new investments per year. This is a serious increase, because today the EAO volume of investment in fixed assets - 13-14 billion rubles annually. And I'm only talking about the addition from the residents of the TOP, and in fact in the region and other projects are being implemented.

"Do you mean metallurgy?"
- No. From GOKs it is good if one billion comes, after all, the construction is almost finished. I'm talking about such facilities, for example, as the ESPO NPC, it's about 3 billion rubles for two years. Or about agroprojects not included in the TOP. The investor comes to us in tin, plans to invest several hundred million rubles in the extraction of tin on the basis of the tails that were thrown. Modern technology allows you to extract from them this metal. In simple terms, we are seriously engaged, in fact, manually assembling investments. But without a TOP, I would like to stress that it was more difficult to do. Since the benefits received by the residents of the TOP significantly improve the economy of the projects. Some projects, perhaps, would not have gone at all, or the terms of their implementation would have been longer. Efficiency increases, and this attracts investors.

- It's been a year since your election as Governor of the EAO. What is the main result of your work for this year you would call?
- First of all, we have built priorities for the development of the economy. Now we understand which direction we need to move. We started serious work to improve the investment climate. This is very important, because whatever projects you have come up with, if from the point of view of climate, bureaucracy, administrative barriers everything is not up to par, nobody will go to the region. A year ago, EAO was not even in the rating of investment attractiveness of regions according to the ASI version. We created working groups and worked through all the problematic issues. And this year EAO took first place among the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District and 26-th - in Russia. This is a serious achievement, we are happy, but now another difficulty - we must hold out. Because all regions are doing similar work.

- That is, the image of the EAO as a depressed territory is already in the past?
- Of course, we have not yet dispelled this perception completely, but we began to change our attitude towards us. And this is the most important! In addition, not all priorities have fired. For example, tourism. We can easily compete with Altai: water is not worse, but China is closer. It remains only to invest in infrastructure. And the Chinese will pull out. And when the bridge over the Amur is completed, it will become even easier. Catch the car and go. Construction is in full swing, the general contractor has already begun to drive piles. Scheduled bridge commissioning - June 2018 of the year.
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