Irkutsk
Ulan-Ude

Blagoveshchensk
Chita
Yakutsk

Birobidzhan
Vladivostok
Khabarovsk

Magadan
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Anadyr
Petropavlovsk-
Kamchatsky
Moscow

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Khabarovsk Territory: results - 2015, trends - 2016

East Russia continues the cycle of analytical publications devoted to the results of the past year and the analysis of the situation in the current year in the socio-economic and political spheres of life in the regions of the Far East and Eastern Siberia

The development of events in the Khabarovsk Territory last year was characterized by a sharp complication of the financial and economic situation, which made the capital region of the Far East one of the worst examples not only for the macroregion, but for the whole of Russia.

Khabarovsk Territory: results - 2015, trends - 2016

Rostislav Turovsky

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia
Whereas in the traditionally competing with the Khabarovsk Primorsky Territory, the available resources and support from the center allowed at least to maintain the status quo, the Khabarovsk Territory turned out to be extremely vulnerable to crisis processes and, in fact, could not oppose them in a prompt response mode. The center, apparently, does not fully understand the scale and systemic nature of the problems of the Khabarovsk Territory, having cut financial assistance to it, but at the same time is working to create growth points in the region. So far, however, this work has not led to tangible practical results.

From the point of view of the abundance of decisions taken in relation to the Khabarovsk Territory, the region is difficult to recognize as neglected. One of the most important events at the end of last year and a currently developing trend was the identification of Komsomolsk-on-Amur as one of the key growth points of the entire Far East.

This position was indicated in the presidential message, as a year earlier Vladivostok was highlighted in the message, where the creation of a free port later began. The "hit" of Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the text of the presidential message is an undoubted success of the regional authorities. The interest of Governor Vyacheslav Shport is all the more obvious, since he comes from this city.

Another potential beneficiary of the new trend may be the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which controls the city's key enterprise, the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant (KnAAZ). The governor maintains a long-standing relationship with KnAAZ, since his entire work biography is associated with this plant.

The prerequisites for joining the efforts of the governor and the UAC and promoting the interests of Komsomolsk-on-Amur do indeed look very serious (in the summer, the governor and the UAC signed a cooperation agreement). As a result, in accordance with the presidential instructions of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, a plan for the socio-economic development of this city was prepared. There is no question of any special and unique mode, like a free port.

But it is worth recalling that last year a priority development area was created in the city, one of two in the Khabarovsk Territory. Therefore, a new development mechanism is already being used in the city. The government plan calls for federal investment in urban infrastructure. Governor Vyacheslav Shport has already announced ambitious plans, including even the construction of a high-speed railway from Khabarovsk to Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

Strengthening the position of Komsomolsk-on-Amur also creates an interesting intrigue in relations between this city and Khabarovsk. If earlier Khabarovsk was always considered the unconditional political and financial and economic center of the region, now Komsomolsk seems to be trying to challenge it and strengthen its position as the second capital of the Khabarovsk Territory. However, this status can be objectively justified not only by the fact that Komsomolsk-on-Amur is the second largest city in terms of population and clearly ahead of all other cities of the Khabarovsk Territory, but also by the fact that one of the largest industrial enterprises of the entire region, KnAAZ, is located in this city.



TORES OF THE KHABAROVSK REGION AS A MIRROR OF THE INTERESTS OF A LARGE REGIONAL BUSINESS

The interests of both key centers of the Khabarovsk Territory, however, were respected when making decisions last year to create a TOP. On the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory, two TORs appeared - "Khabarovsk" and "Komsomolsk", which fully corresponds to the economic and demographic structure of the region. Moreover, all the decisions made by the government to create growth points in the region directly corresponded to the prevailing realities. Thus, two priority investment projects approved by the federal authorities on the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory are associated with its "raw" and "transport" parts. In the first case, we are talking about a project for the development of coal mining and enrichment in the BAM zone (project of Urgalugol JSC, which is part of the country's leading coal company SUEK). The second is about the creation of a coal port terminal in Vanino.

Attention is also drawn to the fact that growth points in the Khabarovsk Territory are created in the interests of mainly large business, as a rule, already operating in the region. The interests of the structures of the UAC and its suppliers are connected with the TOP "Komsomolsk" (one of the anchor investors of this TOP is GK "Energia", which cooperates with the UAC). "Coal" projects, claiming to be co-financed by the state, are being implemented by politically influential capital-industrial groups. The project in Vanino is controlled by the structures of Gennady Timchenko and claims almost 3,3 billion rubles from the budget (through Vanino it is planned to export coal mined in Yakutia by the Kolmar company, in which Gennady Timchenko was the main owner until recently).

SUEK expects to build, at the expense of the state, road bridges, railway access tracks and a power line in the area of ​​its coal deposits (more than one and a half billion rubles are allocated for this). In addition, among the investors of the Komsomolsk PDA, one of the leaders of the forest industry in the Far East, RFP Group, appears, and the Khabarovsk PDA includes the structures of the Khabarovsk airport, which is a private company.

On this basis, we can conclude that so far the development institutions and points of growth that are being created in the region are more focused on keeping afloat or ensuring the growth of the existing regional economy. There are no plans to diversify it and create fundamentally new industries. Of the existing problematic industries, it will probably not be possible to overcome the crisis in shipbuilding. Shipbuilding enterprises were seen as possible beneficiaries of the creation of the TOP, but no decisions were made on this matter.

The resources of Khabarovsk, as not just a political, but also a scientific, innovative center of the Far East, are also not used yet. Although such potential exists and may well be realized, in particular, at the sites of the Khabarovsk ASEZ, such as the Avangard industrial park and the industrial zone near the village of Rakitnoye. In fact, only the Khabarovsk Territory in the Far East has the necessary human resources capable of producing innovative development. Without its implementation, Khabarovsk risks finally yielding its position to Vladivostok, which uses the resource of its geographical position. In the meantime, the projects conceived in the Khabarovsk Territory give the impression of being too predictable, sustained in the standard logic of reproducing the status quo.

Somewhat lost is just not the most standard project - the territory of Russian-Chinese cooperation on the once controversial Amur island of Bolshoi Ussuriisky near Khabarovsk. Here, plans were made to create a tourist and recreational zone, which were discussed at the federal government level. But very recently, a similar project of the "Golden Mile" in the Amur Region began to take the lead, while no progress is visible along the Bolshoi Ussuriysk.

However, even with the already designated industrial and infrastructure projects, one cannot speak of their rapid progress. Khabarovsk TOPs faced problems in building relationships with their main residents. In Komsomolsk-on-Amur, it has not yet been possible to start the work of GK Energia, which is seen as the key company of the corresponding TOP. The informational activity of the company fell on last summer, after which, obviously, the stage of searching and confirming financing began.

In Khabarovsk, the resolution of issues with the owners of the airport was delayed, the modernization of which should become one of the most important investment projects in the region. In the spring, the Corporation for the Development of the Far East reported, at last, about the signing of a corresponding agreement with the structures of the airport, but the project has not yet moved to the practical phase.

The very old question of the functioning of the port special economic zone in Sovetskaya Gavan, which still remains in limbo, has not been resolved. The creation of a TOP or a free port there remains only at the level of assumptions, the infrastructure and production potential of the main port complex of the Khabarovsk Territory, the agglomeration of Sovetskaya Gavan and Vanino, is underutilized. In addition, the likelihood of a reduction in the investment program of Russian Railways and its support by the state has increased after the change in management of this company.

In this regard, the modernization of the "Khabarovsk" part of the BAM may also not receive sufficient funding (while under the state program for the socio-economic development of the Far East and the Baikal region, such funding is now almost not provided). Thus, according to the results of last year, not a single new, or renewed old project, by and large, in the Khabarovsk Territory did not work. Everything was drowned in bureaucratic agreements and contradictions in the apparatus.



Prospects for the commodity economy - growth reserves of the region

Meanwhile, positive shifts began to occur in somewhat less significant directions for the region. So, in the mining of minerals, the situation with the production of tin has revived. Rusolovo began to promote government support for the construction of a mining and processing plant at the Pravourmiyskoye field in the Verkhnebureinsky district. This company is seeking to squeeze out funding for the construction of power lines and a highway. An agreement with her was, in particular, signed by the authorities of the Khabarovsk Territory at the Eastern Economic Forum. But funding, of course, is supposed to come from federal funds.

Positive trends have also emerged in the timber industry, where RFP Group, one of the TOP members in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, is strengthening its position. In addition, the company "Asia Les" is seeking state support, which intends to build a woodworking plant (we are also talking about a road and power lines). The timber industry of the Far East has been criticized more than once, incl. on the part of Yuri Trutnev due to its low efficiency and significant criminalization. Perhaps the Khabarovsk Territory is able to become the main growth point of the forestry industry in the Far Eastern Federal District, the potential of which, in fact, has not been realized.

On the contrary, the fishing industry of the Khabarovsk Territory received great praise from the regional authorities last year, showing good growth, outstripping many other regions of the Far East in dynamics. It is possible that the fishing industry of the Khabarovsk Territory also has untapped potential, given that the region does not have a traditional “fish” specialization and is inferior to its neighbors.

However, in this case, the Khabarovsk Territory should be much more actively integrated into the plans for reforming the fish industry that are currently being discussed and “push through” the development of its “seaside cluster” around the same Sovetskaya Gavan. It will be difficult to overcome the resistance of the lobbyists of the Primorsky Territory, Sakhalin and Kamchatka. But in any case, if we talk about the raw materials economy of the Khabarovsk Territory, then the timber and fishing industry, where there are still reserves for growth, could take a more significant place in the projects being developed now.

When financial independence is not a joy

The actual processes in the financial and economic sphere in the Khabarovsk Territory leave much to be desired. Financially 2015-th the year was downright bad. The regional consolidated budget revenues fell by 7,6% (it was worse only in the Jewish Autonomous Region), and this happened due to a sharp reduction in federal financial assistance.

As a result, the revenues of the Khabarovsk Territory (almost 91 billion rubles) again lagged behind the revenues of Primorye (almost 108 billion). The paradox was that the federal government made decisions with one hand to create growth points in the Khabarovsk Territory, and with the other cut its funding. As a result, own income in the Khabarovsk Territory amounted to 82% of all income (which is higher than that of all other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District that receive subsidies), but it is unlikely that such financial independence was welcome in Khabarovsk: the region is not able to become a donor and does not strive for this ...

The region retained its own revenues (an increase of almost 1%), while federal transfers fell by 30,8%. Among the subsidized regions of the Far Eastern Federal District (i.e., not counting Sakhalin), this was the worst indicator of the decline. The decline was due to subsidies, the distribution of which depends to the greatest extent on the success of regional lobbying (a decrease of 26,8%) and subsidies (a decrease of 26,1%).

But as far as subsidies are concerned, in terms of their main type - subsidies for equalizing budgetary provision - the situation has hardly changed (a 2% reduction). Lost the edge at the expense of other subsidies, which, by the way, also depend on the effectiveness of relations between the region and the center.

With its own income, the Khabarovsk Territory was also not all right. They, as already mentioned, remained at the same level. At the same time, a decrease in income from income tax (by 7,1%) is noteworthy, which indicates financial problems at large enterprises in the region.

Revenues from another important tax - income tax - also fell, but not so noticeably (by 2%). The status quo was preserved by increasing other revenues from business - from corporate property tax, taxes on total income, etc.

A growing problem is the debt obligations of the Khabarovsk Territory, which on its own cannot cope with the spending policy, and does not receive much from the center. By the beginning of 2016, the public debt of the Khabarovsk Territory exceeded 30 billion rubles, and this is the second indicator in the Far Eastern Federal District after Yakutia. During the year, public debt increased by 32,8%. This happened due to budget loans (more than three times growth, it was more dramatic only in Primorye), while the region was gradually paying off the banks (debt reduction by 5,5%).

In terms of the volume of budget loans (13,9 billion rubles), the Khabarovsk Territory is now the leader in the Far Eastern Federal District, in terms of bank loans it is in second place. Interestingly, the debt of municipalities, on the contrary, increased due to the "banking" component (an increase of 1,9 times, the first place in terms of growth dynamics not only in the Far Eastern Federal District, but in Russia as a whole), but decreased in budget loans (by 6%) ... But in general, the municipal debt in the Khabarovsk Territory increased by 14,7% (it is almost 3,4 billion rubles, this is the second figure in the Far Eastern Federal District after Primorye).

The ratio of the amount of the state and municipal debt of the Khabarovsk Territory to its own income has grown and approached the dangerous line, amounting to 45,8%, almost half. This is far from the worst indicator in the Far Eastern Federal District, but in relation to such a large region, it cannot but worry. At the same time, as expected, the debt service costs are growing, amounting to 2% in the expenditure side of the budget (the growth of these costs for the year was 1,9 times).

In a difficult financial situation, the Khabarovsk Territory is forced to cut costs (by 10,1% per year), and at the same time, the regional budget still remains in deficit. In fact, the center is now covering the deficit of the Khabarovsk Territory with its loans. We spent over 102 billion rubles in the region last year, which is much more than we received. At the end of 2015, the budget deficit amounted to almost 11%, which, of course, indicates an imbalance in the regional budget and an acute shortage of funds.



Conditionally the "social" model

Under the conditions of severe budgetary constraints, the authorities of the Khabarovsk Territory were forced to rebuild their financial policy in the direction of a conditionally "social" model, but they could not fully maintain the social situation. In the process of saving budgetary funds, the main stake was made on reducing expenses for housing and communal services and road facilities. The former were cut by a third, the latter by a quarter.

In addition, the Khabarovsk Territory, in comparison with a number of other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, spends very little money on agriculture and fishing: they have been reduced by more than 15%, and at the same time they now account for only 1% of all budgetary expenditures. Under this item, the region spends even less than Kamchatka, and a little more than Chukotka, and the corresponding percentage in the structure of expenditures is the lowest in the Far Eastern Federal District.

The savings, in theory, should not have affected budgetary salaries, for the level of which the region, moreover, reports to the federal center. The stake, as in most regions, was made on the healthcare sector (spending growth by 5,6%). However, in education, expenditures were cut (by 5,5%). In addition, the region began to save more on expenses related to the functioning of state and municipal authorities (a decrease of 8,3%).

Although it is interesting that funding for the activities of the governor and heads of municipal administrations increased by 3,1%. The Khabarovsk Territory still remains a region where bureaucratic costs are high (9,2% of all costs, in the Far Eastern Federal District the percentage is higher only in the Jewish Autonomous Region, which last year was associated with the holding of gubernatorial elections there; in Russia, the region is confidently among the first five).

In terms of the amount of funds spent under the item "national issues", the Khabarovsk Territory is just superior to its neighbors from the Primorsky Territory. Moreover, the region has been criticized earlier for high costs for the bureaucratic apparatus, but the situation has not changed dramatically.

But the most painful situation arose in the Khabarovsk Territory in connection with spending on social policy, which was reduced by 14,6%. An obvious consequence was the growth of social tension and the regular holding of protest actions. In the Far East, Khabarovsk, perhaps, has now become the leader in the number of such shares.

The greatest resonance was caused by the protests of pensioners against the abolition of benefits for travel in public transport. The protests were also provoked by the cancellation by the regional authorities of the full repayment of the balance of the mortgage debt at the birth of the third child. Residents of the famous port village of Vanino, which seems to be a growth point, turned to Vladimir Putin to keep their social facilities from being closed.

Thus, the Khabarovsk Territory also failed to make the crisis budget cut, but at the same time emphatically "social". It is not surprising that the expenditure policy of the regional authorities did not satisfy, in fact, no one.

At the same time, the deterioration of the general economic situation in the region was noted. This is most clearly evidenced by the sharp decline in the volume of investments in fixed assets - by 32,8% (in January-November 2015). No other region of the Far Eastern Federal District has demonstrated such a catastrophic situation in the current results of its investment policy. The volume of construction work also fell almost as much - by 26,9% (in 2015).

In construction, the worst dynamics in the Far Eastern Federal District was noted only in the economically much weaker Jewish Autonomous Region.

In the construction industry, just at this time, the situation around the Dalmostostroy company, the structure of the E4 group, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, became aggravated. Information has been received about the postponement of the commissioning of a new CHPP in Sovetskaya Gavan by RusHydro from 2016-th for 2017. Thus, investment for the future in the Khabarovsk Territory last year was carried out on a very limited scale, promises and expectations were rather produced.

There was also a worsening of the situation in agriculture, where the annual decline was 7%. At the same time, no major projects for the development of the agro-industrial complex using the TOP regime in the Khabarovsk Territory, unlike a number of other regions, did not arise (and the regional financing of the industry was minimized).

An exception may be, perhaps, the project of the Khabarovsk grain processing plant for the construction of a plant for the processing of turkey meat, claiming federal co-financing. Regional authorities at the end of the year created the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization "Regional Agricultural Fund", whose task is to form a network in the region for the production, processing and supply of agricultural products.

But again, at the end of the year, nothing has changed for the better. The decline in the agricultural sector in the Khabarovsk Territory was the largest among all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, excluding Chukotka (where this industry is not developed due to climatic conditions). In the industrial sector, meanwhile, the results simply remained the same, which even seems to be a huge success against the general background (an increase of 0,4%). Perhaps, in the case of industry, the launch of new projects will facilitate the transition of the current stagnation to growth.

The negative results of the year in the financial and economic sphere have not yet had such a strong impact on the social situation, except for the above-mentioned problem of worsening the situation of socially unprotected categories of the population and beneficiaries, as well as protest actions at enterprises (including KnAAZ and the Khabarovsk Shipyard, as well as "GiprodorNII").

The real money income index for January-November even showed an increase of 3,1%. Surprisingly, this was the best indicator in the Far East. In retail trade, the state of which indirectly reflects the situation with the standard of living, nothing has changed - the indicator of 2014 was repeated.However, the rise in prices can hardly be called a positive trend, the dynamics of which in the Khabarovsk Territory is higher than the average for Russia and the Far Eastern Federal District.

Food prices rose by 15,7% over the year (in general, the consumer price index for goods and services amounted to 113,1%). Only the Magadan Region in the Far Eastern Federal District had the worst dynamics in terms of food prices (and similar dynamics in prices in general). This situation also looks rather strange, since the Khabarovsk Territory cannot be called a remote, peripheral region of the Far Eastern Federal District (like the Magadan Region), where the delivery of goods inevitably affects the rise in prices.

One way or another, it was not possible to effectively limit the rise in prices in the region, and therefore the growth in real incomes of the population recorded by statistics was hardly noticeable in practice.



Political elite conflicts and opposition growth points

It is not surprising that the socio-political situation in the region remained rather tense during the year. This was not associated with intra-elite conflicts, but at the same time, there was an imbalance in the administrative apparatus and protest activity of political parties dissatisfied with the work of the governor.

In the regional government, personnel reshuffles and reorganizations of ministries, which have become a kind of "tradition", continued.

In particular, a new "building" block of the government was created, to which people from Komsomolsk-on-Amur came - Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ignatovich and Minister Andrei Skomorokhov (former head of ZAO Dalmetallurgstroy). At the same time, in the construction sector, as we have already noted, the state of affairs was deteriorating. The new minister of industry and transport was Viktor Lemekha, who is associated with the Alliance group of Musa Bazhaev. The Minister of Culture Alexander Fedosov was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister, and Natalya Yakutina took his place. Alexander Ermolin was promoted to Minister of Natural Resources. The reorganization of the agrarian block resulted in the creation of the Ministry of Agricultural Production and Development of Rural Areas: Alexander Kupryakov was appointed minister in the status of deputy prime minister of the regional government (at the same time, again, the industry remains in decline and does not receive public funds). The new ministry of investment, land and property policy is headed by Yuri Chaika. Finally, another innovation was the appearance in the structure of the regional government of the Ministry of International and Interregional Cooperation, headed by Vyacheslav Dianov. There were also “forced” losses in the government caused by federal decisions: experienced Deputy Prime Minister for Economics Alexander Levintal resigned as governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region, and Deputy Prime Minister for Culture and Sports Andrei Bazilevsky became director of the All-Russian Children's Center Ocean in Vladivostok.

However, at the end of the year, it cannot be said that the new structure of the government and new personnel have led to an increase in the quality of the work of the executive branch. Moreover, there was a great resonance in the media for the "scoffs" that V.Shport himself arranged for his employees, incl. new appointees - A. Kupryakov, N. Yakutina, actually accusing them of incompetence. Not without scandals in the legislative branch: the speaker of the regional Duma V. Chudov was arrested and then removed from office in connection with a corruption case. He is accused of embezzling funds of the Dalspetsstroy company (a structure of the federal Spetsstroy) during the scandalous construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome (at that time V. Chudov headed the Moscow firms Prominvest and Promintech, and then, since 2009, he worked as Deputy Prime Minister of the Khabarovsk Territory government). The case against V. Chudov is unlikely to have a positive effect on the reputation of the regional government in general, where he held leading positions for a long time.

In such a situation, it is not surprising that political opposition has begun to revive in the region. Its leader is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which openly supports the resignation of the governor, and also holds protests caused by the unpopular measures of the regional government in the field of social policy. The Liberal Democratic Party, which is a fairly independent force in the Khabarovsk Territory, also reminded of itself, speaking out, in particular, against the abolition of direct elections of heads of municipal districts (the party has repeatedly tried to actively participate in municipal elections in the region).

The ONF also presented claims to the governor, in particular, on the problems of providing housing for some floods, which, in theory, should have been resolved long ago. The front-line soldiers named the Khabarovsk Territory among the leaders in the number of violations in the construction of social housing, criticized the work of the regional enterprise "Khabarovsk Pravutodor". The position of the ONF indirectly showed that V. Shport did not have strong support in the presidential administration, which oversees the work of the front.

Thus, the past year in the Khabarovsk Territory has shown a noticeable deterioration not only in the financial and economic, but also in the socio-political situation. All positive trends associated with investment projects and plans for the accelerated development of Komsomolsk-on-Amur are directed to the future.

At this stage, it is necessary to solve a whole range of tasks - to increase the efficiency of regional authorities, fill federal support with real content, intensify work with investors, optimize budget policy and identify growth points that can strengthen and diversify the regional economy.
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