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Khabarovsk Territory in 2016: overcoming the old and new difficulties

Rostislav Turovsky on the development of the eastern regions of Russia

Last year, the Khabarovsk Territory began to demonstrate more distinct prospects for its development. A notable trend was the formation in the region of a number of growth points - in the coastal zone and Komsomolsk-on-Amur, which received support from both the federal and the regional government. It is too early to talk about any breakthroughs, but at the end of the year, despite the lack of major achievements, the socio-economic situation in the region gave mild reasons for optimism.

Khabarovsk Territory in 2016: overcoming the old and new difficulties

Rostislav Turovsky

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia
Special project TORA and Free Port
Positive Or fall

If we talk about the main socio-economic indicators, then weakly expressed positive trends showed the industry, where there was an increase of 2,4%. But on the other indicators, on the contrary, there was a decline. In particular, to ensure a growing inflow of investment in the region is still not possible: the volume of investment fell by 4,1% (in January-September, 2016). Similarly, and construction work decreased - by 3,3%. The most negative trends were characterized by agriculture with a decline in production by 7,3%. Moreover, the Khabarovsk Territory authorities did not give the APK due attention, which aggravated the situation in this area, which did not become a priority. Thus, new projects in the Khabarovsk Territory have not yet led to any meaningful results, and we can not speak about the outrunning development of the region.

Not surprisingly, the social situation in the Khabarovsk Territory left much to be desired. There was a decrease in real money income of the population by 4,8% (in January-November, 2016). True, the retail trade turnover remained at the same level (a slight decrease by 0,9%). However, we can not but worry about the growth of wage arrears: according to this indicator, according to 1 December 2016, Khabarovsk Territory took the third place in the country.

In an optimistic way, the region’s support from the federal center is setting in, which is combined with its own good financial and budgetary situation. True, it is still impossible to get ahead of the “eternal rival” - Primorsky Krai in terms of budget revenues. At the end of the year, revenues of the regional consolidated budget amounted to 101,8 billion rubles, of which 84,8 billion rubles - own tax and non-tax revenues. The Khabarovsk Territory earns most of the funds itself (more than 80%), but the support of the center is important for it. Last year, the Khabarovsk Territory managed to achieve an increase in federal transfers by 2,1%, mainly due to the inflow of subsidies to equalize fiscal security (by 26,8%). However, the volume of federal subsidies still sharply decreased (by 22,8%), and subventions (by 3,9%) also fell.

With all the increased importance of federal subsidies, it is not worthwhile counting on a constant influx of federal financial assistance to the Khabarovsk Territory, given the general tendencies of the tightening of the federal government's financial policy. Therefore, its own income is more important for him, and there is reason for optimism, as these incomes grew by 13,8% (in general, the revenues of the regional budget increased by 12%). The main "secret of success" was the excellent growth of income from income tax - by 64,1% (the dynamics were the best in the Far East and the eighth in the country as a whole). But income from income tax (accounting for about a third of budget revenues of the Khabarovsk Territory) has grown not so significantly - only by 4,9%. It should be noted that in the structure of budget revenues of the Khabarovsk Territory, due to the presence of oil refineries and other large enterprises, excise taxes and property tax on organizations also play a significant role.

The increase in budget revenues was reasonably used by the Khabarovsk Krai authorities to increase social spending. However, the accumulated problems associated with high debt burden and budget deficit did not allow to ensure a significant increase in funding. Despite the fact that the regional authorities very carefully increased spending (they grew only by 4,2%), the budget was still reduced to a noticeable deficit. The size of the public debt was, according to the results of 2016, 36,1 billion rubles, which was the second indicator in the Far Eastern Federal District. At the same time, Khabarovsk Krai was the leader in the Far Eastern Federal District in terms of bank loans and was second only to the Amur Region in terms of budget loans. Municipal debt, consisting mainly of budgetary loans, amounted to 3,2 billion rubles. And the public debt also grew over the year by 17,1% - Khabarovsk Territory divided the first place with Yakutia (the municipal debt was reduced by 5,5%) in terms of growth rates. Thus, debts remain a serious problem for Khabarovsk Krai, and there are no attempts to solve it. In fact, the region, despite the growth of budget revenues, demonstrates a shortage of funds for the main articles, what caused the preservation of both the budget deficit and solid debts.

At the same time, it can not be said that the expenditure policy of Khabarovsk Krai looks well balanced. So, with the already high share of spending on national issues, these expenditures increased by 7,1% (amounting to almost 10% of budget expenditures). On the contrary, the cost of agriculture fell sharply (by 12,4%), dropping to the lowest level in the DFO-only 0,8% of the total budget expenditure. Agriculture was the object of too tight austerity of budgetary funds, while his condition left much to be desired. It is interesting that at the same time the authorities of the Khabarovsk Territory pay special attention to the program of distribution of "Far Eastern hectares" and even introduced the post of minister-commissioner, which was passed by the Minister of Culture N. Yakutin. Savings on the road authorities, the cost of which are also small (economy of 11,7%) decreased.

However, if there is a marked imbalance in the budgetary policy, the regional authorities tried to increase social expenditures and housing and communal services. While fulfilling social obligations, they, unlike other regions, preferred to remain in debt than to carry out painful cutbacks. In particular, for health in 2016, more funds were directed to 7,4%, for education - by 3,7%, for social policy - by 8,7%. As for housing and communal services, the costs for which many regions have cut, the Khabarovsk Krai authorities increased these expenses by 5,5%. But, despite a very careful attitude to social spending, regional authorities were still criticized by the Communist Party. The indignation of the Communists caused the deprivation of privileges for free travel in public transport. In this regard, the CPRF, which has long been disgusted with the governor, even collected signatures for the removal of V. Shport and the dissolution of the regional Duma.

Growth at the poles
While the region is trying to cope with the cargo of accumulated financial and socio-economic problems, special hopes are placed on the accelerated development of the two main growth poles - the coastal zone (Vanino, Sovetskaya Gavan, Nikolaevsk-on-Amur) and Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

On the coast, the main focus is on the introduction of special economic regimes - free port and TOP. At the same time, despite attempts to save the "old" regime of the special economic zone in Sovetskaya Gavan, it was not possible to do so. As part of the federal campaign to close the inefficient SEZ, this regime was eliminated in the Soviet Harbor. However, simultaneously with this unpleasant event in the city appeared a promising investment project - a sugar factory of the Thai company Sutech Engineering, capable of becoming an industry leader in the Far East. Since 2017, the construction of this plant is expected.

But the development of the port settlement of Vanino, which is adjacent to Sovetskaya Gavania, is of key importance for the coastal zone. The free port regime was extended to Vanino, and so far Vanino looks like the most likely contender for the status of the second largest free port in terms of investment - after Vladivostok. The regional authorities, for their part, showed great attention to Vanino and his potential projects. In the existing logic of the Vanino port development, coal terminals are called upon to play a key role - new projects of the G.Timchenko and R.Baisarov groups related to the extraction of the same FIGs for coal in Yakutia and Tuva respectively. Along with this, a new alumina terminal Rusal, a terminal for transshipment of liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), should appear in Vanino. But along with the implementation of the traditional transit function, Vanino may well become a large industrial area. In particular, plans for the construction of a methanol production plant (SUEK and Japanese Marubeni), a wood processing plant of the Arkaim company, and a fish-breeding plant were announced. If these projects are implemented, Vanino will turn into a large industrial center, one of the leading ones in the Khabarovsk Territory.

So far, however, the situation in Vanino has spoiled some current problems. One of them is ecology. Residents of the village actively protest against the practice of operating coal terminal, leading to the release of coal dust into the atmosphere. Pollution by coal dust became the subject of complaints of residents and the reason for inspections conducted by the transport prosecutor's office. JSC Vanino Seaport (which is controlled by the Mechel Group) was forced to eliminate violations. It is clear that the residents of Vanino do not expect anything good from the construction of new, even more powerful coal terminals: the authorities and business will have to solve environmental problems in advance. In addition, there was a conflict between Mechel and FPG O. Deripaska, as a result of which RusAl intends to build a separate alumina terminal in order not to depend on the owners of the main port.

The very regime of the free port was so appealing to the Khabarovsk Krai authorities that there were very strange initiatives in the region to extend this regime to the interior. It was said about including in the structure of Khabarovsk free port and adjacent areas - Khabarovsk, Vyazemsky, Bikinsky, Lazo. However, the regime of the free port in its Russian "reading" is already very different from the world analogues. Therefore, its use in areas remote from the sea, still looks unlikely.

An interesting process was the promotion of the TOP in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, the third in a row in the Khabarovsk Territory (this TOP was approved by the government commission). Nikolaevsk-on-Amur is an isolated and depressed city and, of course, needs incentives for development. Although it is located close to the sea, it was decided to create a free port only in Vanino. Nikolaevsk-on-Amur got the TOP status with an emphasis on fish processing and ship repair, that is, on the traditional specialization of this territory. In the city and its environs, it is planned to build a fish processing complex (LLC Ukhta-prom), to develop fish processing at the facilities of CJSC Nikolaevskaya-on-Amur Fleet Repair and Operations Base and LLC TOT, as well as to revive the shipyard for repairs as sea ​​and river vessels.

At the same time, the project of withdrawal of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur from a depressive state is likely to face difficulties. In particular, here it is required to solve the problem of power supply of facilities, and for this, state investments are needed. And poor transport accessibility of Mykolayivsk-on-Amur will remain a problem when attracting investments to this city.

Simultaneously with the formation of a pool of investors for a new TOP, the situation with the two TORs that emerged earlier became clear in the Khabarovsk Territory. Around the TOP "Khabarovsk" there were problems caused by disagreements between the city authorities and some investors, in connection with which Yuri Trutnev had to intervene in the situation. But quickly began to work greenhouse complex, where the investor is the Japanese company JGC Evergreen.

ТОР "Komsomolsk" developed in a more relaxed mode. One of its main specializations may be the processing of wood, which is very important in the gradual process of transforming the Khabarovsk Territory into the leader of this industry in the Far East. One of the participants in this process is the large timber holding RFP Group. At new enterprises it is planned to develop the production of sawn timber, liquid pulp, etc. In addition, this recreational component has a recreational component, which, however, is of local importance (the ski complex "Kholdomi").

Along with the TOP, an incentive for the development of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the second largest city in the Khabarovsk Territory, from which Governor V. Shport comes from, is called upon to become a plan for the complex social and economic development of the city. In 2016, this plan was approved by the head of the Russian government D. Medvedev. But as with any plan, from its formulation to the realization of time there must pass a lot. Even the coordination of specific measures and their financing has been protracted for many months (the plan should be implemented with the reconstruction of the highway between Komsomolsk and Khabarovsk - the most expensive project, as well as the construction of deironing and demanganization complex, reconstruction of the drama theater).

Key players in the process of preparing the development plan for Komsomolsk-on-Amur were determined. In the federal government, a working group has been set up for this. In the government of the Khabarovsk Territory, a special vice-premier D.Volkov, who came from Moscow, came from Moscow, who came from Moscow business circles and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI). But it is possible that the financing of the plan (where the main burden falls on the federal budget) will be further curtailed, as it happens with state programs. It is important that all three of its areas (development of the industrial center, the formation of a favorable urban environment, infrastructure) developed in a balanced manner. Obviously, the most expensive element of the plan will be the reconstruction of the highway, which follows in Vanino (while most of the work is still planned to be completed before 2020, works on this road will be conducted up to 2025). And on the whole, clearly prolonged agreements do not allow us to say that the plan will be fully implemented. In addition, the city has many other problems that need to be addressed, for example, bankruptcy of a river port. Nevertheless, the revival of the economy, the improvement of the city and the formation of a transport corridor from Khabarovsk to Vanino will be of strategic importance for both Komsomolsk and the region as a whole.

Recycle and extract
In connection with the development of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and not only its Khabarovsk Territory, it acquires opportunities to revive its traditional engineering and metallurgy. It is expected that shipbuilding, represented by factories in Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur, by enterprises of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, will start to emerge from the crisis. Both plants are counting on government orders, incl. defense In addition, the Khabarovsk Shipbuilding Plant will be engaged in the construction of two cargo-passenger ships for transportation from Sakhalin to the Kuril Islands. Also, these plants rely on the planned construction of new vessels for fishermen.

The positive news was the appearance of the buyer of the property of the long-suffering plant "Amurmetal" - the only enterprise in the Far East of the ferrous metallurgy located in the same Komsomolsk-on-Amur. After the failure of a number of auctions, property at the lowest price was bought by Khabarovsk group "Toreks". There is also a possibility that the plant will become part of the TOP.

An increasingly urgent issue is the transformation of the Khabarovsk Territory into a major center for timber processing. For this, the region has all the prerequisites. The creation of a timber industry cluster is carried out by Vnesheconombank, which makes it possible to talk about realistic prospects. It is assumed that the total investment of the bank will be about 40 billion rubles. The cluster will be based on three enterprises - Arkaim in Vanino, RFP Group in Amursk and "Asia-forest" (BM Group) in Berezovoy village at BAM. Moreover, the Asia-Forest project has already received targeted government support: the state is ready to allocate about 850 million rubles for its infrastructure. With "Arkaim" so far the most problems are connected, since a year ago there was introduced an external management. Nevertheless, despite the debts, the company is looking for partners in China and hopes to launch a major investment project. The advent of Chinese capital into the timber industry complex of the Khabarovsk Territory can, perhaps along with VEB's investments, create real prospects for the development of the industry, as well as exports of its products. In the same Amursk, the construction of a pulp and paper mill, which China Chengtong Holdings Group can take up, is also supposed.

In the direction of deeper processing of traditional raw materials for the Khabarovsk Territory, fishing may also develop. So far, the region has been underestimated from this point of view, and the positions of the main industry lobbyists of Primorye, Sakhalin and Kamchatka have always been stronger. However, last year the Khabarovsk Territory showed a record catch of salmon, becoming, along with Kamchatka, one of the main beneficiaries of the ban on drift-fishing. Prospects for the development of fish processing acquires Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, which may be interrelated with the creation of TOP. And in the Nikolaevsky area last year the largest fish factory in the region was already opened.

The extraction of coal and non-ferrous metals in the Khabarovsk Territory is also inferior to a number of other Far Eastern regions, but new prospects are emerging. The positive result of the federal support of coal mining in the Urgalskoye field (SUEK) is the expansion of production, in particular, due to the commissioning of the Pravoberezhnyi section. It is expected that coal production will double here in five years.

Amur mining and smelting complex in the city of Amursk can also calculate the expansion of production volumes. The owner of the plant - the company Polymetal intends to process raw materials from its gold deposit Kyzyl in Kazakhstan in the Khabarovsk Krai. Thus, not only Komsomolsk-on-Amur, but also nearby Amursk receive good incentives for development.

Among the new extractive industries, the development of the Malmyzhsky gold-copper deposit (Nanaisky district), controlled by Western capital - the Canadian IG Copper (51%) and the American Freeport McMoRan (49%), is the most interesting. Despite the anti-Russian sanctions, these companies are very determined, and the Russian government approved the admission of their company "Amur Minerals" to work in the field. True, this project is unlikely to be implemented quickly, and its owners, apparently, intend to still seek financial resources. But in any case, the prospect becomes fairly obvious.

Finally, the Khabarovsk Territory remains the Russian leader in the development of tin mining, which sharply declined in our country after the collapse of the USSR (and the actual cessation of this production in Yakutia). The company "Seligdar" is engaged in this, deducing on a design capacity mine Molodezhny and concentrating factory in Solnechny district. She is also mining at the Pravourmiyskoye field in the Verkhnebureinsky district. However, the production volumes are small, and while Russia continues to depend on the import of raw materials.

As we noted above, plans to form a growth pole system in the Khabarovsk Krai require considerable investments in transport infrastructure. This need exists directly in Khabarovsk. A road construction project was launched here, and a concession agreement was signed with a consortium that includes Gazprombank, Sibmost (Novosibirsk, the Koshkin family) and a VIS group of St. Petersburg origin (known for its cooperation with Gazprom). Construction is estimated at 41,1 billion rubles and should be completed in four years.

The undoubted interest of the region is the completion of the modernization of the Khabarovsk airport, which is occupied by an international consortium, where the key player is the Japanese group Sojitz. In the next three years, it is planned to reconstruct the terminal of domestic airlines. For its part, the federal government decided to allocate funds for the reconstruction of the airport from the NWF. And, by the way, the central role of Khabarovsk in the Far East was only emphasized by the decision to create a logistics hub "Post of Russia", to which the Development Fund of the Far East should allocate 1,8 billion rubles.

Increased tension
The socio-political situation in the Khabarovsk Territory did not undergo much change, and social tension was felt and influenced the development of the electoral process. In particular, the Khabarovsk Territory distinguished itself by the largest drop in turnout in the Far East (it was the lowest in the Far East, amounting to 36,9%). Affected by the election and the absence of a candidate for United Russia in one of two single-member districts: there, the Kremlin relied on the State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia S. Furgal (in another district, a local deputy and a businessman from United Russia, B.Gladkikh won the election). Along with his victory, this led to an increase in the voting figures for the party list of the LDPR. Against the governor, as already mentioned, the Communists actively spoke, but their rating, however, did not grow from this. Nevertheless, United Russia received its worst result in the Far East - 37,3% of votes in the Khabarovsk Territory. The result of the LDPR (25%) was the third in the regions of Russia, the communists got 16,5% of the vote.

In general, the public moods and their attitude towards the authorities could not but be affected by corruption scandals, although they did not receive federal resonance, as it was in other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District. But for all that, in the Khabarovsk Territory, the whole construction block of the regional government "suffered" for corruption, where Deputy Prime Minister S. Ignatovich and Minister A.Skomorokhov were arrested. I had to replace the Speaker of the Legislative Duma: instead of being arrested in 2015 Mr. V. Chudov, he was his deputy and also a representative of "United Russia" S. Lugovskaya. In addition, tense relations in the elite influenced the position of the experienced mayor of Khabarovsk A. Sokolov, but he managed to keep the post (it was assumed that the mayor "will leave", nominating him to the State Duma deputies). In Komsomolsk-on-Amur, by the way, the local opposition advocated the resignation of the mayor of the city, A. Klimov, but this also did not lead to anything.

Thus, the socio-political situation in the Khabarovsk Territory was characterized by heightened tension and a marked level of protest moods. Current results of social and economic development of the region clearly do not satisfy citizens, because there are no changes here. Moreover, some projects cause their discontent, related to non-compliance with environmental requirements. Regional authorities generally cope with the financial situation, but the funds are not enough to meet all the pressing needs of a large region. At the same time, there are positive prospects for the region and its individual cities, and they are already beginning to be realized. But, of course, it must take several years for these changes to lead to visible results.
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