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"We need to get out of debt trap faster"
Vladimir Ilyukhin, Governor of the Kamchatka Krai - on how to create reliable "runways" for new projects
- Vladimir Ivanovich, it seems that the federal center suddenly "regained its sight" and turned to face Kamchatka. The government supported 4 of your investment projects (none in Primorye), the decision to create the Kamchatka ASEZ was made one of the first. How did you manage it, are there any reasons for optimism and enthusiasm?
Of course, on the whole, we expect that the Kamchatka ASEZ will give good results. Within the framework of the project, we plan to create about 2 thousand new jobs. New production facilities and receipts to the regional budget are also important for us.
The territory of advanced development "Kamchatka" is very logical in itself and I would even say - beautiful. It covers the sea gate of the region, the air harbor and the tourist component. We have a comprehensive approach to business - so as to help tourists get to really interesting places, and for little money (otherwise who will go?). Now, when a cruise ship comes with a thousand people on board, only a few can get, for example, in the Valley of Geysers. You cannot get there by anything other than a helicopter, which is quite expensive. Therefore, the idea arose within the framework of the TOP to develop small aircraft, to build runways for aircraft. In the area of tourist sites, land has already been allocated for this. Businessmen are ready to buy small planes, build hotels, cafes and other tourist infrastructure. Everything came together, you just need to implement it.
- The budget is a sore subject for many regions. How does the deeply subsidized Kamchatka Territory feel in an era of low oil prices and a falling ruble? Does he still have "points of growth"?
- Just the other day we held a regular meeting on the results of the past year. Conclusion: although the situation is tense, it is still stable. And the point is not that some crisis phenomena have not yet reached Kamchatka - the region is quickly and painfully beginning to feel all the difficulties. It's just that our anti-crisis plan really worked, we managed to maintain the basic parameters of the budget. The budget itself is "socially oriented", we still fulfill our main obligations to citizens. Of course, against the background of a general economic recession throughout the country, in our region, the volumes of, for example, construction are decreasing. But at the same time, the mining sector, the agro-industrial complex and the fishing industry "grew up" - and this is the basis of the Kamchatka economy. In 2015, like 7 years in a row, we again became leaders in Russia in terms of investments in the fishing industry and in terms of production of aquatic biological resources. We have approached almost a million tons of catch and are ahead of almost everyone in terms of the volume of fish products produced. I am sure that we will go through the "turbulent" period in the economy smoothly. Naturally, one must look at things realistically. It is impossible not to notice, for example, that the level of wages has increased, while the real incomes of people, on the contrary, have decreased against the background of rising prices. There is tension in society and anxiety. But at the same time we are able to reduce the unemployment rate and implement social programs. This gives hope that we will not collapse our economy, unlike a number of other Russian territories.
- And what about the filling of the treasury? In 2013, the Kamchatka budget was self-sufficient only for a quarter, the rest was subsidies from the center. Is there now an opportunity to increase this share?
- I will not give specific figures now, but we are really trying now to make sure that the revenue side of our budget does not grow at the expense of the federal budget alone. It's complicated. Like 8 other Far Eastern constituent entities of the Federation, we now have an agreement with the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation on subsidies, since the level of income does not allow us to be independent. The investment structure that we planned in more prosperous times was based on large projects and related tax revenues. Unfortunately, the crisis has made its own adjustments. Nevertheless, we are able to increase the volume of private investment. This gives hope for future growth. You see, from the outside and to an ignorant person it may seem that since “Moscow gives funds”, then the region can sit idly by. But in reality, such subsidies are a debt trap from which to break out. I think that the problem will be resolved primarily at the expense of the mining complex. We expect it to play the role of a "locomotive" for Kamchatka. The development of the mining complex has now finally begun. The first licenses for the extraction of ore gold were issued at the beginning
- As far as I know, Indian investors have shown interest in the coal industry. At what stage are negotiations with them now?
- We have a brown coal deposit, which is quite large in terms of reserves. But will it be developed in the near future? I'm not sure. There are problems associated with the fact that from this field to the Petropavlovsk-Milkovo highway another hundred kilometers off-road. The section is located on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, there are no port facilities nearby. The problem of transportation practically negates the possibility of developing this deposit, although the coal there is very good, in terms of its calorific value it is close to coal. The Indian partners are interested in the possibility of its production, but now they are calculating whether the project will be profitable.
In our country and with other minerals, everything usually rests on infrastructure problems. That is why we have started to "gold" projects only now, although we received licenses 20 years ago. It was necessary to deal with the energy sector, the road network, and create at least a minimal infrastructure. In coal deposits, such problems have yet to be solved.
- Will Kamchatka's energy capacities be enough for all these plans?
-This is also a question. For three years in a row I have been trying to "push through" the idea of building a hydroelectric power station in the south of the region, on the Zhupanov River. It would allow solving the problem of generating electricity in the southern and central parts of the peninsula, including the cities - Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Elizovo, Vilyuchinsk. The Zhupanovskaya station, according to our calculations, will cost (in 2014 prices) about 52 billion rubles. The Ministry of Energy did not manage to solve this problem. I spoke about it with the president of the country, he instructed the ministry to return to the study of the issue. But so far the experts' conclusion is negative: they do not see the need to build the station. Firstly, it is expensive, and secondly, everything seems to be fine with the energy sector in Kamchatka. But you need to think about the future, and not just about today!
- In the future, the capacity may not be enough? Or is it not enough now?
- Formally, if we proceed from the energy balance, we even have a reserve. If a peak occurs, the situation can be neutralized by the Mutnovskaya geothermal station and the Tolmachevskiy cascade of hydroelectric power stations. But the main generation in the central hub is, of course, provided by thermal stations. Today there are two Kamchatka CHPPs, which we have converted to gas. But by themselves they are very old - one forty, another fifty. Years old
Now we get gas at a certain price, it has nothing to do with the production cost. This is not profitable for Gazprom. The project was initially, rather, a "political" decision: the gas pipeline was pulled here from Sobolev, the price was set "from above". Sooner or later - I admit - it may change, and not in a favorable direction for Kamchatka. Therefore, we are forced to look for an alternative, and in this case it is, first of all, the construction of a hydroelectric power station.
We, of course, also have wind power (on the Bering Island, in Ust-Kamchatsk, modern wind-diesel complexes are already operating, in about 9 other settlements we will install wind turbines together with the Japanese). The effect is good, for example, on Bering Island we managed to replace about half of the diesel generation in this way. But they solve the problem only in isolated energy centers, they cannot become the main sources of energy.
There are a lot of unresolved issues in the field of energy. The industry is monopolized, the main player here is the structural divisions of RusHydro. Tariffs are among the highest in the country. We cannot influence them, namely, absolutely everything "dances" from electricity tariffs. Of course, the cost of energy makes it possible to equalize federal subsidies, but only slightly. The development of hydropower would help to unleash this tangle of problems. By May 2016, we must once again submit our proposals to the presidential administration. And I will again insist on the construction of a new hydroelectric power station.
- Kamchatka is a region with difficult transport accessibility. How are you going to solve this problem?
-We are geographically a peninsula, but in fact, island problems are typical for Kamchatka. We are cut off from the "mainland". The main mode of transport, including for internal communication, is aviation, and we hope that it will develop.
Now the reconstruction of the runway at the main airport of the region, which has a dual - military and civilian purpose - is being completed. Now, together with the Federal Air Transport Agency, we are reconstructing almost all northern airports in the region. The work is going on quite actively, funds are allocated for it. Hope that in years
As for the connection with the mainland, the bulk of the traffic is provided by Aeroflot. He works on the "shoulder" of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - Moscow and St. Petersburg. We have a small choice, and we are grateful to this airline. But at peak loads, during the summer vacation season, ticket prices become simply unaffordable. The airline operates the so-called “flat rates”, but their share in the total volume is extremely small. Of course, we are interested in other airlines entering our market. The Transaero company, which flew to us at the same time as Aeroflot, no longer exists. While we have reached an agreement with Rossiya Airlines, and it enters our market by the beginning of the new tourist season, ticket sales have already begun. I think this will help us a lot.
- Will they be direct flights? Regular or charters?
- No charters, they were not even discussed. Regular flights only. It was discussed that planes would fly to Moscow five days a week. We are also raising the question of increasing the number of flights to St. Petersburg and, necessarily, to the south, to Krasnodar or Sochi, so that our residents can get there not through Khabarovsk or Novosibirsk, but directly.
Communication with Siberia is currently provided by the airline of the same name, and with Vladivostok and Khabarovsk - Aurora. In the summer there are charters to Japan and Korea, but they are not enough. We are also negotiating with Chinese partners who are ready to enter the air transportation market. We are interested in flights to Beijing and Harbin. Our southern neighbors are showing serious interest in Kamchatka and are ready to organize flights. But with three transfers, you don't fly much. Direct flights from us are not profitable for "Aurora" - they need to load their base airports in Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. And we could collect passengers from Chukotka and Magadan with our planes, and carry out direct flights to Korea and China. But we need an airline to do this. As soon as the reconstruction of the airfield is completed and a new runway is put into operation (I hope this will happen in June 2016), it will be possible to conduct more substantive negotiations with partners.
- Will the completion dates be postponed again?
“The attention of the country's leadership to this construction project inspires hope that there will be no more disruptions. I am glad that Spetsstroy, which is responsible for such an important facility, has overcome the crisis period. This corporation has a subdivision that specializes in airports, which is what we have: it has completed the construction of a strip in Vladivostok for the economic forum, and has now come to us. All concrete work has been completed, now the problem is only in the infrastructure. It is necessary to fence off the perimeter in accordance with safety requirements, prepare and launch a command and control center (KDP), and complete the installation of navigation equipment. Test flights of this strip should begin in April. In addition, Kamchatka has undertaken to build a new passenger terminal by the regional airline. The project was made in Krasnoyarsk, in February we should get expert opinions on it and start working. This terminal will be located next to the existing one. I must note that here we also showed prudence: we studied the practice that developed in Russia during the construction of airports. The options that our colleagues used did not suit us. We did not divide the company into “flight” and “airport” parts, given our small volume of work it is economically unprofitable.
- It depends on what to compare, of course. The terminal, together with the entire infrastructure, will cost us about 2 billion 300 million rubles. The planned construction period is 48 months, but our builders consider it possible to keep within 2 years. We are all interested in completing the project as quickly as possible. By the way, this is a very beautiful building with a capacity of 400 passengers per hour. Nearby is a hotel. Everything is arranged compactly and efficiently. The terminal can be used for both federal and international airlines. We hope that the airport will be able to handle quite serious passenger traffic.
- Will the money be allocated from the regional budget?
- No, such a load would be excessive for him. We are now looking for investors and at the same time discussing the possibilities of obtaining credit resources, we already have specific proposals from both companies and banks. For now, we are acting on the principle of "trust but verify." I would really not like to get into a situation where someone started construction, then slowed down due to financial problems, and we will have to clear up the consequences. To protect ourselves as much as possible, our airline will start building the airport on its own. And we are ready to offer business the following option: we sign an agreement, they transfer funds in advance (for example, a controlling stake of 51% or more, in this case it does not matter). We carry out construction and development ourselves, but we guarantee the investors that after the completion of the construction, the controlling stake will remain with them. They get a finished building, come in and operate it. If it does not work out, we will work ourselves and calmly pay off the bank loan.
- Let's literally return from heaven to earth. Sometimes it is much more important not to build an airport for long-distance travel, but to provide people with normal housing instead of dilapidated or emergency. How are you doing with this program now?
-The picture is generally not bad. We are in the top twenty or thirty in Russia. The work is going on quite actively, recently a group of experts from the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation came to Kamchatka. They praised our program for resettlement of emergency housing and construction of earthquake-resistant buildings. No complaints. The dates in Ust-Kamchatsk and Kozyrevsk were slightly postponed, where the contractors did not manage to commission two houses on time.
-And when is it planned to completely relocate all the inhabitants of the dilapidated housing to new buildings?
- Unfortunately, this is impossible. On the territory of the region there are now five targeted housing programs aimed at reducing the volume of the emergency fund. But only in Petropavlovsk and Elizovo today 3,5 thousand objects have a seismic resistance deficit. What to do with them? In fact, this is also an emergency fund, although the criteria are always different. In addition, the rest of the housing is gradually aging. From this point of view, it is easier to demolish the entire city and rebuild. But show me at least one region of Russia where this is possible. Therefore, we set ourselves realistic goals. The work should be systematic, and we consistently carry out all the points of the outlined plan. For now, we are focusing on the "intermediate finish" in 2017, and then, I think, there will be some proposals at the federal level to improve the situation. I would like people to live in normal comfortable conditions. We have already built a whole microdistrict, demolished 50 earthquake-prone houses and are moving their residents to new apartments. But we understand that we still have to rebuild a lot. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is, after Okhotsk, the oldest city in the Far East. It is almost 300 years old. And the first stone house appeared here only 50 years ago, the development was carried out according to Soviet standards, and now these buildings do not meet modern requirements. We cannot demolish them all at the same time, there will not be enough funds for new buildings. But today we manage to overfulfill the original plan by about 28%. The situation, I think, is normal. I think that over time we can gradually solve the problems.