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"Political uncertainty is just a formality"

"Political uncertainty is just a formality"

How are things going in the Jewish Autonomous Region with priority projects like the bridge over the Amur, where the first ASEZs are planned to be created in the region, what to do with healthcare and agriculture, which are in decline ... In a word, how to turn a lagging region into an investment attractive - about all this in an exclusive interview with EastRussia, Acting Governor of the EAO Alexander Levintal.

- Alexander Borisovich, there was little talk in the federal media about the Jewish Autonomous Region before Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the region last year. And if they did, it was due to the fact that the Jewish Autonomous Region and Chukotka are leaders in lagging behind other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District in many socio-economic indicators. For example, the region ranked last in the development of the social sphere last year, and the penultimate in terms of development dynamics. In agriculture, the region became the leader in the decline in agricultural production in the Far East. Are there any positive trends this year?

- Unfortunately, today the Jewish region is really in the last or penultimate places in terms of growth dynamics, qualitative indicators of the population's standard of living in terms of a number of parameters of socio-economic development, and so on. Nevertheless, there are certain positive trends - in demography, in particular. Despite the fact that there is still an excess of mortality over the birth rate, there is no increase, as, for example, in the Khabarovsk Territory, Yakutia, it is positive that there are tendencies towards an increase in the birth rate and a decrease in mortality: the birth rate is growing, well, the mortality rate is slightly decreasing. Let's hope that the trends will take hold. We will work on this and then we will be able to talk about some future population growth. Today it is difficult to talk about positive trends in general, because there are crisis phenomena, and despite the fact that we are preparing a number of economic projects for launch, they will appear at best by the end of the year, or already next year, a tangible effect from their implementation will be ... Now there is a period of comprehension of the current situation, the development of mechanisms for its change and the launch of measures that would allow it to be done. Today I set a task so that in terms of investment we move forward, in terms of investment and business climate, we can enter the top three in the Far Eastern Federal District in the next year or two. During this time, it is necessary to create conditions for attracting investments here; let's hope that the measures we take will help us in this.

- Development of the Kimkano-Sutarsky iron ore deposit and construction of a bridge over the Amur River are breakthrough projects for the region. According to preliminary data, they would like to include the field project in the preliminary list of priority investment projects that could benefit from government support. But to date, there is no information about this ...

- It is known that the preparation of documentation for obtaining state support takes quite a long time, and the GOK project is already on the way out, there is no time to wait, so the investor decided not to use the proposed mechanism and prepares the facilities for launch, including with our support. It is that we provide privileges on our part, laid down by our regional legislation, we are making organizational and political efforts to accelerate the completion of the construction process. At the meetings of the interdepartmental headquarters to facilitate the implementation of the project, we discuss the issues of concern, meet with the leadership of the Chinese company that builds facilities, and in every way contribute to speeding up the completion of construction. We hope that this year in the second half of the year the company will work.

- What other priority projects are planned to be implemented in the territory of the JAR?

- As you said, a breakthrough project for us is a railway bridge crossing over the Amur near the village of Nizhneleninskoye on the Russian side and the city of Tongjiang on the Chinese side. He is pulling several projects at once, since the bridge to China will allow developing logistics and transport functions here, "expanding" bottlenecks in terms of interaction between the two states in the field of cargo transportation. Well, for the Jewish Autonomous Region, for the GOK, this is the opportunity to supply its products for export by the shortest route, respectively, to get more profit. Around the project, I emphasize again, in the future there will be a number of other complex projects, such as a logistics center, which has even passed the state examination, and the Chinese are also preparing a project for an industrial park. By the way, on the basis of a logistics center and, possibly, an industrial park, we are working on the issue of creating a TOP - a territory of advanced social and economic development. We have very good conditions for creating a TOP in the next year or two at this site. In addition, there are a number of projects related to mineral resources, in particular, graphite, which the Magnezit company sells in the territory of the Jewish Autonomous Region and which, in my opinion, is also a very interesting and promising project, since it is associated with mining of graphite, which is in demand today in the metallurgical industry. Despite the fact that the metallurgical industry itself is experiencing today, maybe not the best times, there is a second direction - this is electronics, the production of various storage batteries, and so on. There is interest in graphite in China, Japan, South Korea. The advantage is that the transport shoulder is minimal here, and the fact that the Soyuznoye field is one of the best not only in the country, but also in the world, according to experts. The seriousness of the company's intentions is confirmed by the fulfillment of the project implementation deadlines: in 2016-2017, the enterprise will be built and the field equipped. Now the project is at a high stage of readiness, and we expect that production will already be available in 2018. There is also a project for the extraction of manganese. Just the other day I held a meeting with a Chinese investor (which, unfortunately, takes a long time to develop) - we intend to speed up the process of launching and developing this field. We also have brucites, an increase in production is possible at the operating enterprise, zeolites and other minerals that can be mined and processed. With a deeper study of them and the search for investors, this can give good dynamics to the socio-economic development of the region. Mineral resources are undoubtedly one of the most important points that can be used for these purposes.

- Last year a council was created in the region to improve the investment climate. What is his work?

- This is a tool that works to improve the investment climate of the region. What is it? The development of road maps that would reduce the time of registration of the enterprise, the time of connecting objects to networks, the removal of various bureaucratic barriers, the application of the best practices in the areas. It is also necessary to work on improving the information field, delivering the maximum information at a minimum of costs, including through the Internet, and so on. The task of the council is to give impetus to this work, to create organizational mechanisms, if necessary, and financial opportunities, for example, privileges or preferences to think over for some moments. I hope that the work of the council will be effective; And how effective it will be, we will track the annual ranking of regions.

- You recently said that agriculture in the region is in an unenviable state. "This sphere is now just collapsed" - your words. In this regard, two questions. First: last year The regional authorities negotiated with the Israeli company LR Group for the construction of a dairy complex in Smidovichi district. What did you agree on?

- And not only this group - but also Russian co-investors, let's say, negotiated the creation of a complex in Smidovichi district. Unfortunately, so far the situation has not progressed, as Russian investors had to take out a loan, but for the implementation of the project, loan funds have not been allocated yet. The Russian company does not have any money, and the Israeli company also hesitates in making a final decision on this matter. There are some justifications, but the financial scheme for the project is not yet available.

- And the second question on the same topic. The lands of the EAO are claimed by the Chinese, who want to grow soybeans by their technologies. Are you ready to give them the area for their chemical plant growing?

- A bit strange question. What does chemical crop production mean? The Chinese are doing all kinds of farming. There are also normal Chinese technologies, which are quite reasonable and productive. They have a good academy of agricultural sciences, including in Harbin. It is wrong to say that all Chinese plant growing is based on chemistry. It's just that there are some deviations from normal technology, and unfortunately, they often dabbled in these technologies in our country, in the Far East, including in the Jewish Autonomous Region, therefore they created such a negative halo. In fact, there are well-functioning Chinese enterprises that grow soybeans using their own technologies. They have a yield of 25 centners per hectare - God forbid we receive such yields, while 13 centners are considered a high result in our country. If our agricultural producers received 25-30 centners using the right technologies, we could, at the expense of half of all the land currently under soybeans, get the same harvest that we are now harvesting, and the other half would be used for crop rotation. And it turns out that 85% of the land was sown with soybeans with a minimum yield. If there are good proposals from the Chinese side and the Chinese are ready to invest in land, we have a part of the land that has not been put into circulation: investments are required in land reclamation, bringing the land into conformity. We are ready to give land plots to investors, and not only Chinese ones. The main thing is that the crop rotation is observed. Growing soybeans is a profitable business, but, again, subject to crop rotation.

- This year is elective for the EAO. Do you think that political uncertainty hinders the development of the region?

- Do you mean that there is an interim leader? If you think that this may be the reason why investors are in no hurry to enter the region and something may slow down, I will say that, firstly, this period is not so long, there are only 4 months left before the elections. Secondly, nothing prevents us from preparing a number of projects during this time, and we are already doing this work. To be honest, I have not yet heard from any investor to say: "Wait, the elections are over, we will start working with you." We have a number of suggestions. Even while we were talking, they called me about the construction of refrigeration facilities on the left bank of the Amur - this is one of the proposals. Therefore, I believe that political uncertainty is nothing more than a formality; it cannot hinder the development of the region. A certain interest in the area has already formed, and we will try to awaken investors who do not have it yet. I already said that we are working on it. Our goal is to make the region an attractive investment area.

- Recently you met with representatives of the World Bank. What joint projects were discussed at the meeting? Did you reach any agreements?

- Yes, we spoke with representatives of the World Bank about projects related to the implementation of so-called local initiatives. These are projects that are being implemented by municipal territories together with the bank in remote settlements, villages where serious investments usually do not reach, and where there is a need for some kind of social projects, in general, but opportunities are very limited. Therefore, the investor is not even the World Bank; rather, the bank acts as a methodologist, organizer of this kind of work. The bank will make its main efforts to teach local communities, local residents to work according to such a scheme, when they themselves determine what they need to do, for example, build a sports, children's playground there, create a library, make a well, for example. The determining factor is that people choose the project themselves. Second, they must participate in this project, that is, we do not just want to say, but with their own ruble, kopeck, let 200, 300, 500 rubles invest their own funds, each citizen. To this the municipality will add some money, the regional authorities will also allocate, and with such a public-private partnership, small projects worth 500 thousand, 1 million, 1,5 million rubles are being implemented. They allow you to "unleash" local initiative, to show people that something depends on them, they can directly influence the improvement of the situation. It seems to me important to launch such projects, despite the fact that they also require budgetary money, but in practice this gives a very good effect in those regions where they are being implemented. Therefore, there is such an agreement with the World Bank, I just recently agreed on a draft mechanism for the implementation of local initiatives, we will send it to the bank, and work will begin in the summer: representatives of the bank will meet with people, explain how the mechanism for financing these projects is formed, their implementation, and so on. Further.

- We have already touched upon the issue of creation of territories for advanced development in the region. Let's now talk about specific projects. Where and what kind of Tori are you planning to create?

- Yes, we are working today, as I said, to accelerate the construction of the Russian part of the bridge over the Amur for rail transport and the development of the area around this object. That is, we plan to create the first territory of advanced socio-economic development in the Leninsky district. I spoke, at a minimum, about the logistics project proposed by the Russian company and the Chinese proposal to create an industrial park, which can be included in the PDA. This may be one TOR. In principle, we consider this entire area to be very promising, and now we will work out, together with the Ministry of Development of the Far East, the potential possibilities of creating a Torah there. And we are not discounting the second territory in the Smidovichi district. We will look, if the company does not find investments, we will look for other companies. Agroindustrial TOR here is also promising, since the city of Khabarovsk is not far from its large and capacious market.

- What difficulties are there at the moment to attract investments to the region? The regional parliament recently discussed the problem of formal registration of land plots - more precisely, its lack: 61% of plots, according to the management of the federal service of state registration, cadastre and cartography, are not officially registered at all. The deputy Vinnikov notes that it is extremely difficult to attract investments in such conditions. Do you agree with this point of view? How could such a problem arise and how is it planned to be solved?

- Undoubtedly, one of the most important moments that determine success in the implementation of an investment project is land support, allocation of land. And if it concerns the agro-industrial complex, we are talking about the lands of the agricultural fund. In this connection, I came across such a situation. After my appointment to the region, investors began to come up to me with an offer to invest money in agricultural production, the first question: give land for the implementation of the investment project. When they began to consider our possibilities to allocate the necessary plots, it turned out that the land seemed to be formally, but physically it was not, it was all fragmented, and someone was fixed for it. And even if it is not formalized, someone plows it, sows it, sells it to someone, resells it, and so on. Therefore, one of my first decisions was to understand this situation, to understand that we have, in the sense of the land, legal relations and our opportunities. On my instructions, a commission on the inventory of agricultural land was established, the first meeting of the working group has already been held. The tasks have been set, the work has begun. We must clearly determine where the land is, who, in what condition it is, whether the lease agreements are observed, if they exist, whether the crop rotation is observed, and so on. This is necessary to systematize this work, bring all the documents in line and move further in the issues of agricultural development, to which the region has always differed.

- Will there be a hectare of free land in the region?

- With the appropriate amendment of federal laws and working out the scheme for allocation of land, we will implement the tasks set.

- In mid-April, you said that the region entrusted to you in terms of the level of health care development is "on the outskirts". What are the regional authorities planning to do in this regard? Do you already have a plan for solving the problem? The Moscow process of healthcare modernization has followed the path of reducing the number of medical institutions and medical staff. Will the EAO learn from this experience?

- The Moscow experience does not suit us, I can definitely say. In the capital, an excess of doctors, and we have a shortage. I can only offer to send us specialists free from work. But if you seriously answer this question, after my acquaintance with health care institutions and medical personnel, it is obvious that in the Jewish region, the first thing to do is to change the health management system and strengthen the management structure with practitioners. Numerically and qualitatively. Practice practitioners with organizational experience are needed. In addition, it is necessary to address the issues of strengthening the material and technical base of health care institutions. The most important thing is the equipment that will allow you to normally engage in diagnostics and treatment, and the solution of personnel issues to provide doctors, paramedics, nurses. Today, the availability of doctors in the JAR is 44%, which is extremely small. Despite the fact that the average salary in connection with this turns out to be quite good, it seems even more than in the Khabarovsk Territory, but there is nothing good about it. Permanent work in two shifts is, of course, not a normal phenomenon, so it is absolutely necessary to create conditions for attracting additional specialists who could work on modern equipment, attract young specialists to go here to work and live. In my opinion, it is important to set the normal level of primary care, FAPs, and district hospitals, as well as in remote communities, you can use information technologies to better diagnose diseases, get advice from highly qualified specialists. If we solve these three tasks - we will change the management system, strengthen the material base and personnel - I think we can together achieve an improvement in the situation in terms of the qualitative provision of health services to our people.

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