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Power and business will create comfort in Sakhalin and Kuril Islands together

Governor Valery Limarenko summed up the results of the SPIEF

Participation in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum brought the Sakhalin Region profitable cooperation agreements, the opportunity to launch a lot of important projects and new business ties. Representatives of the island region have concluded agreements with federal corporations, enlisted the support of the largest business communities and are ready to outstrip the entire mainland Russia in terms of economic development. Governor Valery Limarenko told EastRussia about the most important achievements and key plans of Sakhalin and the Kuriles following the results of the SPIEF.

Power and business will create comfort in Sakhalin and Kuril Islands together
Photo: press service of the Governor of the Sakhalin Region

- Valery Igorevich, please tell us about the phenomenon of the 8th place of the Sakhalin Oblast in the rating of investment attractiveness of the Russian regions of the ASI: how did you manage to achieve this and what had to be done for this?

- Now in the Sakhalin region there are more than 500 investment projects, which are estimated in total at 800 billion rubles. Last year we took only 30th place in the ranking and to take 8th - this is really a very powerful breakthrough. It was possible to achieve such an indicator and get into the top 10 in Russia thanks to hard work. The regional government works with all business associations, at each stage we control the planned plan in order to prevent possible failures. In addition, we are collecting bit by bit the advanced experience of other regions and mastering it, focusing on the specifics of the Sakhalin economy. The pandemic has made its own adjustments: we have lost 44 billion rubles from oil projects. But, on the other hand, representatives of the non-resource business came to Sakhalin and we received investments of 22 billion rubles - this is a good result, which shows that we are going in the right direction.

Every day I ask myself the question: why is this happening, what are we doing for this? And I think that the main thing that we have managed to do is to create an atmosphere of openness and trust. And this is extremely important, because it gives the business interest, a guarantee of the future and stability. This is how investments come to us. We have permanent investment councils, specialized working groups - any investor can address specific issues that he cannot solve himself, and we promptly help. We will eliminate the problem at any stage literally in real time. We have a “single window” system for investors. At every stage of the project implementation - from submitting an application to actual work, we accompany a businessman. If a failure occurs, we intervene and fix it. We also have a so-called "customer school": we train investors in project management and lean economics, we give them information about investment risks. We have a management system specifically for this data: every day I devote an hour of time to analyzing this information, monitor it, and propose to make changes. In sum, everything that I have voiced creates really attractive conditions for investors in the Sakhalin Region - and the ASI rating shows that this really works.

- Following the rating of investment attractiveness, ASI is preparing a rating of the quality of life in the Russian Federation. What bar do you set for yourself, in what part of the rating are you preparing to see Sakhalin?

- Of course, among the first. We have ambitious goals, we do not want to abandon them and we are doing everything to make the Sakhalin Region a region with the best quality of life in Russia. We have everything for this: specialists, experience, funds and, most importantly, an understanding of how to work and which areas to pay special attention to. We have minimal unemployment. We are interested in the employment of our graduates, young specialists, experienced professionals, we provide jobs for guests from other regions of the country.

One of the most important criteria in assessing the quality of life for the government of the Sakhalin Oblast has been and remains the cost of social obligations. This is financing of education, health care, sports, housing construction, communal infrastructure and, of course, culture. We invest a lot of money from the regional budget in these areas, participate in the maximum of federal programs, conclude public-private partnership agreements. Everything we do today improves the quality of life of Sakhalin and Kuril residents tomorrow. And I am sure that in the new ASI rating we will be among the leaders. I won't be surprised if we are the first - for this we work very hard.

- Please tell us about the details of your meeting with Alexey Miller. Will Gazprom become one of the first concessionaires in the Far East? What specific projects are we talking about?

- It is not the first time that Aleksey Borisovich and I have met in the framework of our joint working projects with Gazprom, and the dialogue at the forum was no exception. This time the negotiations concerned the Vostochny gas pipeline - we are commissioning the second stage of this facility. The supply of blue fuel through the pipeline will provide environmentally friendly, energy-intensive and cheap fuel for the residents of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the southern part of the city, including the private sector. In parallel, we will complete construction and installation work on the gas distribution network in Korsakov. All these are important steps in the gasification of the entire Sakhalin Oblast, which we plan to complete by 2025.

It is my firm belief that this project should be completed as quickly as possible. Sakhalin and Kuril residents should breathe clean, fresh air, and not soot from fuel oil and coal, which is thrown out by boiler houses. Along with the environment, I would like to draw attention to the economic component: gasification will allow consumers to significantly reduce energy consumption costs. Returning to the discussion of our investment policy, I would like to add: the developed gas infrastructure will also allow attracting investors to the islands, which will give an additional stimulus to the development of the economy, create new jobs, and, therefore, improve the welfare of Sakhalin and Kuril residents. 2025 is our mark on the calendar, but we will try to complete the gasification of the islands faster.

- And we continue the topic of gasification. One of the large-scale tasks to achieve carbon activity by 2025 on Sakhalin is to convert all boiler houses that are now coal or diesel powered to gas. But please tell me: HOW will you translate them so quickly?

- You rightly noted: the task is very ambitious. This is a huge amount of money and the amount of work is supposed to be colossal. But, since we have a tight deadline - by 2025, to completely transfer all boiler houses of the Sakhalin Region to blue fuel, we were looking for a mechanism that would allow us to balance the construction time and budget spending. Because we need to start building new energy centers now, and we plan the budget in advance. And we have found such a mechanism: these are concession agreements.

The essence of this work format is very simple. We conclude an agreement with a contractor. She performs all the necessary construction and installation work and commissions facilities on schedule, on schedule. And we, the government of the Sakhalin Oblast, have been paying for the work we have accepted for several years. This mechanism has been successfully used for a long time in the regions of Russia. Moreover, we have already adopted it in other sectors of the economy. And we also plan to work, solving the problem of transferring all heating plants to gas fuel. At the beginning of the month, we presented this project at the concession fair in Moscow. It was included in a large list of strategic plans for the Sakhalin Oblast to launch public-private partnership projects. We already have preliminary agreements, now we are discussing the details. I do not see any reason not to have time to complete the conversion of boiler houses to gas in 4 years: we have all the tools for this.

- What sources will finance the transfer of boiler houses and public transport to alternative fuels?

- Since this is a very expensive project - preliminary, according to our calculations, it is necessary to allocate 10 billion rubles only for 7% gasification of boiler houses - we are attracting part of the funds from the federal budget. Some part, of course, will be paid by the budget of the Sakhalin Oblast. At the same time, we plan to attract most of the required amount - almost XNUMX billion rubles - as investments: we already have developments in this area, there is also a business that has expressed a desire to participate in this.

As for the environmental modernization of public transport, the state development corporation VEB.RF will help us here - we have already signed a cooperation agreement with Deputy Chairman Oleg Govorun. The company will help Sakhalin switch public transport to natural gas and partly to electricity. In addition, we will jointly create a new infrastructure, optimize the route network and reorganize the operating mode for one operator. Today, one of the key tasks of the Sakhalin Oblast government is to make settlements comfortable, and the modernization of public transport plays a key role in this work. It is important for us that people do not waste a lot of time at stops, so that there is less exhaust gas in the air. The experience of successful work in this direction, accumulated by VEB.RF, is important for us - we have something to learn from them.

Another agreement in the same direction has been concluded with Rosatom. The Corporation will help the Sakhalin Oblast to transfer the municipal vehicle fleet to the use of environmentally friendly engines, including electric ones. Charging infrastructure, new stopping pavilions, a road safety center - all this will become important components of the development of the transport direction on Sakhalin.

- At what stage is the creation of a hydrogen cluster on Sakhalin? Were the details of his appearance at the SPIEF discussed? What are its terms and stages?

- Of course, this was also discussed. Moreover, on behalf of the Sakhalin Oblast government, I took part in the signing of a trilateral cooperation agreement with the Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic and the Rosatom corporation. This agreement concerns exactly the creation and development of a hydrogen cluster on the islands - this project is of strategic importance for us. Hydrogen production is the basis for the development of innovative technologies, modernization of industry, transport and infrastructure of the Sakhalin Region. This will increase our export potential and lay the foundation for the development of economic partnerships with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. All conditions for the implementation of breakthrough projects in different sectors will be created in the cluster, and all kinds of support measures will be provided to its residents.

Within the framework of the agreement, in the next few years we will cooperate in several areas. First of all, this is the construction of a hydrogen production complex, the supply of hydrogen to foreign markets and local consumers, the creation of a hydrogen park with enterprises implementing projects in this area. It is also planned to create a competence center in the field of hydrogen and other "green" energy on the basis of the Sakhalin State University. This center will be necessary for training, exchange of experience and technology transfer. In three years, we want to launch the first hydrogen fuel cell trains on Sakhalin. Russian Railways and Transmashholding are interested in participating in the project - the deadlines are tight, there is a lot of work to be done, so our task is to start the construction of the hydrogen cluster as soon as possible. It is important that we do not have to curb economic growth. On the contrary, the introduction of modern, environmentally friendly technologies increases the attractiveness of the region in the eyes of investors, as well as creates additional opportunities for large-scale projects, the emergence of new jobs, and contributes to the development of the social sphere.

- The Government of the Sakhalin Region and DOM.RF, within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, signed a memorandum of intent, which should increase the volume of commissioning of rental housing by 50 thousand square meters per year? How exactly is this supposed to happen? Will this rental housing be available to everyone, or only to certain categories of residents of the region?

- The first thing I want to draw your attention to: this memorandum will allow us to further reduce prices for rental housing for Sakhalin and Kuril residents. Apartments built thanks to the cooperation of the Sakhalin Oblast government and DOM.RF are comfortable, spacious, comfortable living space, the rent for which will be significantly lower than the commercial one. And this, I note, is a real way out of the housing problem for the islanders, who, for whatever reason, cannot yet afford a mortgage, but need comfortable housing.

We expect to start construction this year. And at the first stage, about 800 residents of the Sakhalin Region will be able to improve their living conditions. On 50 thousand square meters, we can accommodate doctors, teachers, young professionals who are in demand right now. Also, an increase in the volume of construction will help us complete the program of resettlement of citizens from the dilapidated and emergency fund even faster. Thus, partnership with DOM.RF gives us the key to solving three problems at once. We accelerate the resettlement of dilapidated houses, attract young professionals to ready-made housing with low rent and offer apartments to young families.

- How much housing is being built on Sakhalin now? What are the prospects for the construction of new housing in the Kuril Islands?

- At the moment, we have identified 370 sites for housing construction on Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Our region is the leader in Russia in terms of construction per capita. We are building 0,8 square meters per person: this is the figure that the government has set the benchmark for the regions of Russia by 2030, and we are already fulfilling it now, ahead of all neighbors by 20 years. This year we are building 500 thousand square meters of housing - this is already 1 square meter per person.

As for the Kuril Islands, housing construction there is carried out primarily within the framework of the resettlement program from a dilapidated and emergency fund, we receive funds under the federal target program for socio-economic development. Until 2023, we plan to relocate all owners to new, comfortable apartments. Last year, 11 apartment buildings were commissioned, and we are not going to slow down. In parallel with housing, we are actively building up the social structure - schools, roads, utilities and medical facilities. We have an investment program that has already attracted eight large projects with funding of more than 10 billion rubles, and the construction of housing in the Kuril Islands gives us the opportunity, among other things, to attract specialists to new jobs that are being opened as part of a new business.

- Large (working in different regions of the country) construction companies come to Sakhalin. What are the volumes of the planned construction and will the construction materials industry develop on the island?

- I have already named the indicator we are striving for this year: to build 500 thousand square meters of housing. Of course, we are planning the construction of not only apartment buildings, but also low-rise buildings, including large-panel ones. A high-tech house-building plant will start operating in the south of Sakhalin very soon. It will produce parts for large-panel construction, reinforcement cages, and finished reinforced concrete products. The plant is opened by the Ligo-Design group of companies, and in the summer we hope to see the first products at the construction site of a new residential complex in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Another important project is a cement plant in the Smirnykhovsky region, which will be built with the involvement of Korean investments. It will produce up to 700 thousand tons of products annually, will give our region 500 jobs and will allow us to seriously reduce our dependence on supplies from the mainland. Thus, we will further reduce the cost per square meter of housing and build more apartments. This production is vitally important for our region, and we will definitely support it.

- How will the United Map of Sakhalin residents be transformed? What can she "can" now, what will she give in the future?

- We have signed an agreement on joint work with the Strategy of the Future Foundation to develop and improve our project “Single Map of Sakhalin Residents”. Already now it combines three cards at once - bank, social and transport. This is access to state and municipal services, social support measures, it allows you to receive discounts in stores and pharmacies. All residents of the region, from schoolchildren to pensioners, can apply for it. And now we are ready to share our developments and help develop similar projects in other regions, and in this we will be helped by the Future Strategy Foundation, which will extend our experience to the entire Far East. Together we will deal with the development of new technologies of the national program "Digital Economy of Russia". After the transformation of the project, we will be able to promptly receive feedback from the population, analyze feedback and improve the mechanism for the provision of social services, modernizing the "Single Map of Sakhalin Residents" to meet the real demands and needs of the population. Well, as for the replication of the project, this will help each region of the Far East to improve the quality of assistance to the population in electronic form.

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