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“Infrastructure and Transport Projects - a Fad for Russia”
- Is the Vostochny Polygon, in fact, one of the largest transport and logistics infrastructure projects in Russia? What are its goals and objectives on a national and Far Eastern scale?
- The project is much broader than just transport. It covers territorial development and is not accidentally called a "polygon": it involves the deployment of works on the vast expanse of Siberia and the Far East, primarily in Primorye, Transsib and BAM zones. It is on this basis that it is calculated to intensify the regional economy, create conditions for investment in the extractive industry and, at the same time, improve the quality, speed and volume of traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railway and BAM.
Well, further there are also plans for the construction of new railway lines up to North America through the Bering Strait. This, of course, is a long-term task. In the meantime, it is important to link the railway communication system and the loading and unloading unit of Primorye into a single system.
- Which ports do you give priority to?
- I would not talk about priority here. The point is to activate the entire network of maritime ports, starting from Vladivostok. Modernization of ports is already underway. At the same time, bottlenecks are being cleared, that is, modernization of BAM and Transsib. Such work will allow in future to increase traffic volumes.
Today, along with the "Eastern polygon", for example, the project of high-speed railways to Kazan was created. It is already clear that the project will be somewhat detrimental, because it is necessary to build many branches at once, otherwise the Russian industry will not be loaded. The peculiarity of the "Eastern polygon" is also that it can provide Russian heavy industry with orders. And metallurgy, and engineering, and rail production, and the construction sector, because it will be necessary to build new buildings. And not only the buildings of new industrial enterprises, but also new cities, develop new stations and a system of rocky railways.
- It turns out, the project will contribute to the development of industry in general?
- "The Eastern polygon" should theoretically connect a whole range of directions, such as timber industry, mining, machine building, that is, the entire manufacturing industry and innovation sphere, because a lot of equipment will be required. It will be very good if orders are received by Russian enterprises.
It is assumed that the "Eastern Polygon" will operate as a project that stimulates demand. Demand at least in the business-to-business format, and then in the format of consumer demand. These are new jobs that will "improve" the labor market in the country. Look, the demand for cars in Russia has been declining recently, the real estate market is stagnant. A decrease in prices in a number of segments is already underway. At least in some places, demand has dropped dramatically. For example, it sank in Moscow, and this is a very important indicator; Moscow is the economic heart of Russia.
In 2012, the economic blockade of Iran took place, and the EU, the US and their partners demonstrated to China that its sea communications can be easily cut off, and China is enormously dependent on imports. Despite the fact that China pays a huge amount of steel, it produces a huge amount of ore and coal, it constantly lacks raw materials. In these conditions, there is only one country that is able to provide China with stable and reliable supplies - Russia.
Meanwhile, in China they are talking about building the Silk Road - a railway that will go in the direction of the Southern Silk Road through Iran, Afghanistan, perhaps Pakistan, or bypass these dangerous zones through Kazakhstan. But this is still projects, and only Russia has ready-made lines of communications that have been built for more than one decade, this is Russian Railways. Therefore, it is one of the objectives of the Eastern Polygon to modernize rolling stock, means of communication, stations, and to reduce the time for transportation.
- That is, the "Eastern polygon" can make some changes in the world trade turnover?
Now the question is solved, how the construction of skydiving railways will be paid. Probably, 50% will be paid by RZD, 50% - by investors. But the main problem of the "Eastern polygon", in my opinion, is that it requires the state to change its own role in the economy. This is not the situation when our economic bloc officials like to say: let investors invest, and we stand apart or create a climate, we will give some tax discounts. This is the situation when the state itself must invest. It's no secret that the Transsib (and there is nothing to say about BAM) was built with direct and active state participation. Today, when the task is to make Primorye an accelerator, maybe even a locomotive, of the Russian economy, it is impossible to do without state investments.
- Have you taken any steps in this direction?
- As I see from the news, the issue of interaction between local and federal authorities is actively discussed. Russian President Vladimir Putin makes statements, holds regional meetings, where the question of the "Eastern Range" is raised. There are signs that interest in the project is quite large, especially since it is also important because it will give the Russian economy an active protected zone, the growth of which does not depend on the wave of sanctions from the European Union. The Moscow region has been the leader in attracting investments and economic growth rates over the past few years. Siberia and the Far East were not sufficiently developed. Now the situation can change.
- "Eastern polygon" - a long-term project. Do foreign investors show interest?
- Yes, and this is another advantage of the project. Long-term nature is a guarantee for investors that their investments will be repulsed. That this is not a project for a year, when you must very quickly invest and quickly leave. You can be sure that the state will not abandon this direction of work.
I'm sure many will be scared of the scale of costs - the estimated cost of the project is 60-65 billion dollars. But I am sure that this is not enough, you need to invest several times more in the region in order to get the maximum effect.
- How do you feel about the creation of the territory of advanced development (TOP) in the Far East, in many ways precisely for their stimulation and is created the "Eastern polygon"?
The search for private solutions with a formal, deaf-and-dumb approach to investment attractiveness has completely failed. Similarly, the approach associated with private, local zones of revival, for example in Sochi, failed. Here we are preparing for the Olympics, a lot of money was invested in one small place. What is the effect on the economy? Incomprehensible. There is no effect in practice. And for Sochi, too, the problem.
- In your opinion, which regions of the Far East will benefit most from the implementation of the Eastern Polygon project?
- I think that the regions of the south of the Far East will win. Primorye, Southern Siberia - originally. Further development will depend on the development of the railway communication system. Yakutia - at some point, because with the expansion of railways, the development of many natural resources becomes more profitable. It is impossible to mine iron ore in the northern regions, transporting products on airplanes. It is insanely expensive, irrational, uncompetitive. With the development of the railway network, it is possible to profitably extract natural resources, and processing can be organized on site.