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POSTOR, ZATOR or motor?
- Vyacheslav Anatolyevich, 11 years ago you headed not only the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), but also the working group of the State Council, which for the first time in post-reform Russia tried to work out a holistic strategy for the development of the northern territories of the Russian Federation for several decades ahead. Disputes were desperate. Which of the old ideas justified themselves, and what had to be forgotten?
- In 2004, the question was of fundamental importance: about the development of the entire Arctic region, about its role and significance for Russia. At that time, they just started talking about not just "sets of measures", but about long-term strategies for the development of huge territories - Siberia, the Far East, circumpolar regions. In general, as they say, "SeverOv" that make up most of our geographical map. To some extent, our then report was a "test of strength" - but quite successful. Based on the ideas that were then voiced at the meetings of the working group and the State Council itself, a number of decisions were adopted that made it possible to soften the acuteness of the most serious problems.
For example, over the years, it has been possible to amend a number of laws on indigenous and small peoples of the North, the provisions of which concerned economic activities, traditional crafts, territories with a special order of nature use. A special tax regime was introduced for a number of industries in the North, and this made it possible to intensify the development of oil and gas bearing areas in Eastern Siberia and the Far North.
- At that time, the issue of special economic zones was also actively discussed. Now they have returned to this idea, planning to create TORs in the Far East - territories of advanced development. Do you think they will have an effect?
- Both in the Soviet Union and in many other states, this practice has been and is being applied for a long time. To solve some important socio-economic, scientific and technical or defense tasks in certain territories, "special conditions" were created for the activities of enterprises, the life and work of people.
In the modern history of Russia, the organization of special economic zones began after the adoption of a special federal law on them in the middle of the past decade. Now we already have some experience of their work. Let us say frankly that, despite the cheerful reports of the government and near-government structures responsible for this area, there are no tangible results. A number of special economic zones of different types have been created in the country, and only a few of them actually work. And even those cannot be pointed out as significant examples of success. This is the whole country, but in the Far East it is a complete failure. There is not a single special economic zone, either unsuccessful or successful! (I am taking out the Magadan zone - this is a zone created on the basis of an individual law that does not fall under the standards of the federal law on special economic zones). Why?
I'll start the answer with a question of fundamental importance. In the Russian Federation, as, indeed, in any other country, there is a pronounced unevenness in the socio-economic development of its macroregions. It would seem that the instruments stimulating development, under these circumstances, should first of all be worked out and implemented for the territories lagging behind for one reason or another. However, as with everything else, this was far from the case in the case of special economic zones. The Far East, the most depressed macro-region of the country, was forced, along with everyone else, to participate in standard competitions for the right to organize these zones. The Far Eastern constituent entities of the Federation took part in them about 40 times and each time they lost. And it is understandable why: a priori they cannot be competitors to the regions located in more favorable economic-geographical and natural-climatic conditions. As a result, the stronger constituent entities of the Federation become even stronger, acquiring new development institutions, and special economic zones are turning from an equalization mechanism into their antipode, exacerbating territorial disproportions in the state. All this is a direct consequence of the absence at the level of the Government of Russia of strategic approaches to the spatial development of the country, optimization of the territorial and sectoral distribution of productive forces, and regulation of demographic and migration processes. A long-term planning system based on taking into account the patterns of world economic cycles, the content of the main trends in the development of science, technology and technology, macroeconomic balances and indicators should be recreated in the country. Including in the spatial dimension, which is now especially important in a difficult geopolitical situation.
Of course, in addition to the general, there were also specific reasons for the Far East why special economic zones were not created here: restrictions in the types of activity and territories of zones, the complexity of the management system, and some others.
- Yes, the laws about them almost coincide textually. And what is the attractiveness of the TORs for the Far East in comparison with the standard Russian special economic zones? Will the projectile fall into the same funnel?
“I'm sure not. Judge for yourself. In the new law, priority development territories are created not on a competitive basis, but on a proactive project basis. The project is being developed according to certain standards and procedures jointly by the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, a constituent entity of the Federation, interested municipalities and investors, and is approved by the Federal Government. This opens up new opportunities for local initiatives, the use of geographic, natural, resource, climatic features and “zest” of territories, traditions and skills of the inhabitants of the Far East.
It is also important that the management of the newly established TOR will be implemented not by distant Moscow structures, as is done now in the case of special economic zones, but jointly by federal, regional and municipal authorities.
Removed and the restrictions on the size of the territories of the zones, which are now determined by the project. This is especially important for the regions of the Far North, where interconnected production can be at a considerable distance from each other.
Housing and social welfare objects may be located in the TORs, which is prohibited in special economic zones. It is clear how much this is needed for the Far East, with its extremely low population density. After all, it becomes possible to attract not only residents of the municipality, where the TOP is located, but also other settlements of the subject of the Federation.
In general, there are new and good opportunities. Now it's up to the initiative and energy of the Far East.
- During the development and discussion of the federal law on territories of advanced development, you actively supported its adoption. At the same time, a number of deputies of the State Duma, senators and experts expressed their doubts about some of its provisions. Do you remain confident that this law will work well for the benefit of the Far East?
- In my opinion, in the course of practical work on creating TORs, special attention should be paid to two issues.
The second issue is the need to strictly control the movement of labor in the territories of advanced development. It is impossible to admit that the objects of housing and social and cultural facilities created in the TORs were used mainly to attract workers from abroad. If foreign residents of the territories are practically exempt from taxes, enjoy simplified customs procedures and still use their own labor resources, then what is the meaning of creating TORs for us? Supplying raw materials there? But we already know how to trade with them. For the record in the statistics, what did something happen in Russia? But in fact it is a fiction. That is why the law provides for the most active role of local authorities in regulating the use of labor in the territories of advanced development, bearing in mind the absolute priority of their own labor resources.
Thus, the law provides for the necessary mechanisms to counteract potential risks when creating TORs. Practice will show how it will actually work. We must move forward.