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Khabarovsk showed remarkable resilience
Alexander Nikolaevich, in 2004, Khabarovsk unexpectedly for many received the title of the most comfortable city in the country and since then has been constantly among the leaders of such a rating. How does this work out?
- What do you mean "unexpectedly"? As a patriot of my city and a person who has been serving as mayor since 2000, I even feel a little offensive to hear this. Nothing comes by itself. For many years Khabarovsk has done everything to create maximum comfort for its residents, even in the harsh conditions of the Far East. It is not easy to earn the title of the most comfortable city. It is awarded by an independent expert jury, taking into account many criteria at once: the pace of construction, architecture, the state of engineering infrastructure, urban transport and road facilities, the development of a network of preschool education, physical education and sports. Social parameters, demographic situation, population dynamics, indicators of investment activity, housing affordability and much more are also important. Including the natural and climatic situation. But here, unfortunately, you have to make allowances for force majeure. Nature does not depend on us, and we are very much dependent on her whims. The devastating blow of the disaster caused enormous damage to Khabarovsk, and we have to overcome the consequences of the flood for a long time.
Nevertheless, we hope that Khabarovsk will remain one of the most attractive cities in Russia. We try to do it better every year. We build parks, fountains, places of mass rest, we reconstruct streets and roads, we try to put in order yards and schools, polyclinics, hospitals, we mount street illumination, illumination of buildings. Khabarovsk is especially beautiful on holidays or solemn events. And they recently are not uncommon. It is no accident that in 2011 the "Russia-EU" Summit was held in Khabarovsk. The first persons of the country regularly visit our region, and they obviously like Khabarovsk. Of course, if we compare it with other cities in the world, these parallels may not be in our favor. But we try to take into account the best experience of different countries. As far as the budget allows us, we are trying to ensure that all modern elements of improvement are present in the city. We must keep the stamp!
- In autumn Khabarovsk was subjected to a devastating impact of the elements. Such a flood is not just a disaster, it is a disaster. What is the situation in the city now and what do you expect in the spring, whose help do you expect?
- Yes, we have not yet experienced such a flood. Fortunately, thanks to the well-coordinated actions of all operational services, we managed to do without human losses. But the damage is colossal. In 1984, the Cupid rose to a mark a little more than 619 cm. This autumn the water stood at 8 meters 8 centimeters. That is, actually at the height of a three-story house. And it did not just rise and immediately receded - an unprecedented flood lasted almost two months. I think that this sad experience is unique in its own way, I have not heard that something similar happened in other countries.
Now we have to overcome the consequences of the flood. I must say that a lot has already been done. And the federal authorities, and the regional government, and the city administration did not leave people in trouble for a day. The victims were compensated, all the evacuees were moved to temporary premises prepared for the winter.
The damage is enormous. Independent experts estimate it at 4 billion rubles, and I think this is a real figure. In addition, a huge blow has been inflicted on people, their state of mind now worries us very much. It is necessary to restore lost housing, to put in order communications, to reconstruct roads. Nobody knows how the Cupid will behave in the spring and summer of 2014, what difficulties will arise when preparing a flooded municipal economy for the new season. So, we must hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst, so that it does not take us by surprise.
- It is clear that the budget of the city is not rubber, and many projects without extrabudgetary sources of funds are not implemented. You actively encourage the business to realize its "social responsibility" and find a response. In particular, business structures will participate in the construction of underground pedestrian crossings in Khabarovsk, in the construction of the city, as well as in a number of important investment projects. What perspectives of cooperation with business structures do you see and what limitations in this area do you consider necessary?
- We are ready to cooperate with business, and with any executing organizations. The demand for them is the same: they have to perform the work qualitatively, on time and the cheaper their prices, the better. We act strictly within the federal law FZ-94 - any municipal orders are placed through competitions and auctions.
At the same time, there is a special municipal program in the city aimed at supporting small business organizations. The preferences granted to these enterprises allow them to reduce and optimize costs, increase competitiveness. In the future, I would like the business structures to be more actively involved in the implementation of urban development programs, as well as more often investing in urban projects on mutually beneficial terms.
As for the restrictions, they should apply only to unscrupulous small business representatives who do not fulfill their contractual obligations. As they say, “we don’t need such a business,” we don’t have anything to do with it.
- You can be called the mayor-long-livers: "at the helm" you are from 2000 year. Several eras are already behind us. What achievements for you were the most difficult and most important?
- 2000 year I remember without much joy. Then in Khabarovsk still strongly felt the echoes of the crisis 1998 year. The production volumes fell, investors did not pay us, the real sector of the economy was in deep decline. Little good was in the sphere of municipal economy: municipal property caused mainly losses, public transport was at 80% worn out and working at the limit. Vital enterprises for the city came to the point of bankruptcy and chronically delayed their salaries.
At that time, it was not up to the global plans. The main task was to stabilize the social and economic situation in the city, preserve the existing industrial potential, support local producers and prevent a decline in the standard of living of the population. But we understood that we should not just survive, but develop.
We started quite traditionally - from plans and programs, in which we tried to realize the conceptual innovative ideas of industrial and investment policy. We revised the basics of budget management and began to do everything possible to increase its revenue share. In the sphere of housing and communal services, it was necessary to establish the smooth operation of all services and enterprises, and the Concept for the Development of the Municipal Production Sector of the Economy of the City of Khabarovsk was sent for this. Its basis was also a planned system and the improvement of all parts of the management mechanism. I will not repeat: our detailed experience was told at the 2008 International Scientific and Practical Conference "Technologies of Social and Economic Innovation in Managing Sustainable Development of the Municipal Economy Sector" in May.
Now the city without cataclysms passes the peak loads of the autumn-winter period. All branches of the municipal sector of the economy work steadily and with profit. We debugged the management structure of the building complex, created a regulatory framework to simplify land allocation in Khabarovsk, adopted building rules and the city’s General Plan, and conducted land inventory. Much has been done to attract investors and not to create artificial paper-administrative barriers for them. A very important direction for us is the development of various forms of municipal-private partnership, support for small businesses. In the end, it is on it that the middle class holds and grows - the foundation for the social and political stability of society.
- And what are the "priority tasks of the Khabarovsk authorities" now, if we talk not only about overcoming the consequences of the floods? What is the minimum program and the maximum you as the mayor have outlined to yourself?
- In the opinion of the residents of Khabarovsk and its guests, our city is gradually turning into one of the most beautiful megacities of the Far East. But very much remains to be done. The city is primarily people who live in it. It is important that they feel comfortable so that as many Khabarovsk citizens as possible can rank themselves in the middle class and get ample opportunities for self-realization. Therefore, our strategic course is unchanged: it is aimed at increasing the well-being of the townspeople and multiplying the social, economic, spiritual and cultural potential of Khabarovsk.
The problem is that it is one thing to proclaim these plans and quite another to implement. It requires the joint efforts of both the administration and citizens. Consolidation of power and the forces of civil society, we intend to achieve in solving all vital problems for the city and issues.
As for the innovation sector, a special program is aimed at its development with the prospect up to 2020. It is designed to stimulate technological re-equipment, to provide our enterprises with access to advanced foreign technologies.
We expect that the "road map" adopted in the investment sphere will allow increasing the inflow of capital for the economic and social development of the city to 2018 year by 2 times. And, of course, the main emphasis will be on developing a private initiative. We set ourselves rather difficult tasks: to ensure an annual increase in the turnover of products and services of small enterprises by 4% in the next 6, an increase in the number of small and medium enterprises on 3,1. The development of entrepreneurship in the city will be facilitated by tax preferences for the Far Eastern business community.
Thus, we expect to support the real sector, small and medium business, to make the city attractive to the investor. And this should give a positive result, first of all for the townspeople. For the continuation of housing construction programs (including for military personnel), for socially unprotected citizens, etc. The plans include the completion of the construction of the Tunguska water intake, modern waste-processing enterprises and landfills, gasification of enterprises and housing.
In addition, the system of feedback between the authorities and the population is being modernized. We must shortly complete the transition to "electronic municipalities", introduce the principles of "open government" in everyday practice and maximize the development of institutions and initiatives of civil society. Including - to develop an effective network of socially-oriented non-profit organizations. It is citizens who will evaluate the quality of our work. And we hope that the number of positive estimates will significantly increase by the year 2018.
- Khabarovsk is the capital of the Far Eastern Federal District. How does this affect the rhythm of urban life and the development of the city? Does not this whole officialdom create additional problems for the city economy and residents?
- The status of Khabarovsk as the capital of the Far Eastern Federal District, of course, went to the city for good. This gives a powerful impetus to the development of all spheres of his life. Khabarovsk now has a significant economic potential, prestigious international events are constantly held here, eminent guests come.
In recent years, Khabarovsk has received wide public recognition - this is proved by victories in All-Russian contests, international awards. It performs the functions of a convention center, where modern technology of organizing conferences, forums, and congresses has been created and operates. This attracts not only a significant number of tourists and other visitors to the city, but also continuously increases the fame and reputation of the city as a center of political, scientific and public contacts at the federal and international level.
It is clear that all this is reflected in the appearance of the capital of the Far East. Khabarovsk has noticeably prettier in recent years; the works of our architects stand out clearly against the background of typical buildings. Through the efforts of several generations of architects, Khabarovsk has become a comfortable, beautiful administrative and cultural center of the Far East with a memorable historical center and expressive architecture.
- And what now can be considered a "visiting card" of Khabarovsk?
- The city itself in all its diversity is the same "card". The benefit of visits recently more and more, and visitors are interested in various aspects of life in Khabarovsk. Here are located not only the enterprises and offices of large companies, but also medical centers of federal importance (perinatal, cardiological, eye microsurgery, oncology), the hemodialysis center is being completed. "The face of the city", of course, only decorate the numerous sports and entertainment facilities - for example, the circus arena in the park named after. Gagarin, the complex "Platinum Arena" and the sports complex "Erofei". The architectural appearance of Khabarovsk makes the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, St. Elizabeth's Church and St. Seraphim of Sarov's Cathedral unique, the most beautiful (and recently reconstructed) embankment of the Amur, a cascade of urban ponds and much more. The capital of the Far Eastern Federal District can only be proud of its image.
- What is the current demographic situation in the city, taking into account the "factor of the elements" and the general trend towards the outflow of residents from the Far East?
- This is one of the most important issues. The Russian government called the consolidation of the permanent population in the Far East the main geopolitical task of the development of this region. Such results can be achieved only if people live comfortably here and they have prospects for the future.
Khabarovsk has become one of the few cities in the Far Eastern Federal District, where the population increases not only through migration, but also through natural growth. Such encouraging data was recorded for the first time in 20 years in 2012. And we have been seeing positive migration growth for the last 8-10 years. As of 1 January 2013 year the population of Khabarovsk was 593,6 thousand people - for the year of the population there was more for 8 thousand people. This was due to an increase in the birth rate by 8,8%, a decrease in mortality by 6,0%, a positive migration balance (7,4 thousand people) and an increase in life expectancy (70,2 years in 2012 compared to 68,4 years in 2011). Positive trends have been observed this year, despite all the natural disasters and economic difficulties associated with them. In 2013, the population of Khabarovsk exceeded 600-thousandth threshold.
In our city there is a place for everyone, including a working place. The situation on the labor market is stable, the level of registered unemployment has decreased during the year from 0,52% to 0,32% of the economically active population. This is significantly lower than the average for the Khabarovsk Territory (1,55%) and for the Russian Federation as a whole (1,2%).
The demographic situation is also affected by the constructive decisions taken by the Government of the Russian Federation on the accelerated development of the eastern territories. We felt increased attention to the city and real support from the regional and federal authorities. We also expect that more active implementation of the program of assistance to the voluntary resettlement of compatriots in Russia from abroad will contribute to the growth of the population of Khabarovsk.
We are open to the whole world. The center of the Far Eastern Federal District, the city of Khabarovsk, is becoming an increasingly prominent place on the map. It is now the link for cooperation with many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. We are strengthening economic and cultural ties with the neighboring states of the Asia-Pacific region. Close friendly relations connect us with the twin cities of Portland (USA), Niigata (Japan), Puchon (Korea), Harbin and Sanya (China), Victoria (Canada). In Khabarovsk, the General Consulate of the People's Republic of China and Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. A number of world famous companies of the USA, Japan, Korea and many others have opened their representative offices in the city.
The city has great prospects and good potential. And I am sure that we can only increase it. Despite all the difficulties and cataclysms - still be able to.