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Project thinking

"Yakutia is working on projects"

Project thinking

In an interview with, Mikhail Brok, General Director of OJSC South Yakutia Development Corporation, told why Far Eastern projects are not subject to “freezing” during the crisis, what the future holds for monotowns, and whether there are real romantics left in the Far East.

- Mikhail Lvovich, please share how the business perceives the final version of the TACER Law? Is there enough of the preferences that the Law gives for a significant breakthrough?

- I believe that laws designed to stimulate the development of a particular territory should be adapted to specific breakthrough projects. It is for them that the regulatory framework needs to be adjusted. It's like the question of a chicken and an egg - which comes first: the project or the conditions. In my opinion, the project is primary. And for projects, various forms of support and preferences can be created. It is very important to see how skillfully the federal departments and the government will work in the selection of projects for the creation of PSEDA. This is the first thing.

Second, clear federal priorities should be designated, which should be implemented with the participation, of course, of the regions. At present, the Ministry of the Development of the Russian Federation is conducting a selection of applications from the Far Eastern regions interested in the creation of TASED. According to the results of this selection, which is conducted under the direction of Yu. P. Trutnev, decisions will be made which territories and where to create. This approach, of course, has the right to life. On the other hand, the importance of the task of developing the Far East is such that it is not enough to count only on the initiative from the regions. The ambitious tasks of a nationwide nature, designed to change the face of the Russian economy and its parameters in a fundamental way, are not solved in such a passive mode. The active position of the federal government and bodies that should be centralized to formulate approaches and projects is required. Otherwise, all this is just support for the initiative from the field. First of all, key projects should be supported, the need for implementation of which comes from national objectives.

In this regard, I believe that in the TOSER Act, an insufficient role is assigned to the management company of the territory. This company in the logic of the law only provides the conditions for residents. It would be much more effective to create a Far Eastern corporation for the active formation of projects and their development. That is, do not wait, but act, create. For the time it took to promote the law on TACER, such a corporation could prepare projects. And for the management of territories to create subsidiaries together with the regions.

Third, the resources for supporting PSEDA in the field of creating facilities and infrastructure for them at the expense of the federal budget for the coming years are very small. The Ministry of Development of the Far East has the ability to distribute only 42 billion rubles for three years to support infrastructure facilities for priority investment projects and PSEDA. Therefore, one has to hope that not so much this support, but the preferences themselves, will be attractive to investors.

In addition, the most powerful vector that affects the entire Russian economy at the moment is the geopolitical situation, as well as the change in the ruble's exchange rate. Accounting for this factor will be crucial and may require some additional measures. Now the Government of Russia is beginning to implement the anti-crisis program. I believe that in this program the approach to the development of the Far Eastern Okrug should not be a freezing one, but, on the contrary, an intensifying project. The first desire, which is present in the financial bloc at a time of crisis, is to postpone everything until better times. This is a vicious and dangerous direction. On the contrary, in today's tough conditions it is necessary to strain and move the priority directions, which in a few years will give an impressive result.

- Can the initiative to allocate one hectare of land to the Far-Easterners and everyone who wants to live in the Far East bring the result to life?

- The initiative is certainly positive. In itself, the desire to allocate a hectare of land to a person who wants to move to the Far East is highly commendable. It is important that the country's leadership supports it. Take, for example, the Stolypin agrarian reforms of the beginning of the 20th century (1906-1910), when the peasants moved to the free lands of Siberia and the Far East. And it is worth remembering about the role of the credit bank, which sold land to the peasants in debt with a low interest rate on the loan. However, land defaulters were seized. Such tough measures in the course of the reform stimulated the peasants to work actively on it.

Today it is important to understand under what conditions and where land will be provided. If they tell me that I own a hectare on the moon, I will hardly be able to move there. And what to do with this land - to what extent, taking into account our huge distances and underdeveloped infrastructure, this measure will work and attract the population to the Far Eastern Federal District. It is necessary to avoid unfair purchase of land and their concentration in one hand, as happened during the privatization period in the 1990s, when vouchers were traded. The direction is quite interesting, but I would like it to be less demagoguery and more meaningful work. It is important that this work is carried out taking into account the specifics of the regions, with the involvement of experts and the general public.

- That is, it is difficult to lure a single person’s land, for example from Central Russia, to the Far East?

- If the task of the same Stolypin project was the development of new lands, the development of peasant farms, now it does not make sense to settle apart from any economic categories. A person will go to where he will earn and where he will have more or less comfortable living conditions that are comparable to the income that he will receive there, and where he will have prospects.

Science has already described the zoning of the Far Eastern territories, where there are more comfortable places for living, there are less comfortable ones. But for the people to live and work there, we need, I repeat, effective projects.

Probably, it's time to stop producing "stone jungles" in the Far East, and create comfortable, economical low-rise housing, using energy-efficient solutions. To create settlements that are comfortable for people and really suitable for the region. In the Soviet years, huge funds were spent on the construction of stationary settlements in the Far North. What happened next? Many villages were depopulated. Maybe not to build illusions at once, but to do normal watches ?! But at the same time to develop basic settlements - cities, agglomerations in more favorable places in the Far East. Such centers have already taken shape and should develop, including in Yakutia.

We always went to the Far East to work. There were also many romantics inspired in the 1970s. by Oleg Kuvaev's novel "Territory". And romantics are enthusiastic people (and they were, are and will be) - they are interested in the problem they are solving. And I again come back to the word "project": these are people with project thinking, who see the image of what they can create (a city or an enterprise), they are focused on this and spend part of their lives. The fact that a person sees the result of his work and gets the opportunity to enjoy communication with our great nature forms the romantic atmosphere of the Far East.

Speaking about attracting new people to the Far East, we must respect the traditions that have developed here and use the invaluable experience that has been formed throughout the history of the development of the region. I was born and raised in Aldan, for many years I have been associated with different regions of my native Yakutia. And I am sure that the human community that has developed here over the centuries is a huge independent value and, at the same time, a powerful resource for further development of the territory.

- The Law on TOSED says that single-industry towns in three years can receive the status of special development territories. What do you think about it?

- For example, the city of Neryungri in South Yakutia is mainly a city of coal miners. In recent years, the situation on the coal market has been unfavorable, which also affects the city's economy. Perhaps today, taking into account exports and the depreciation of the ruble, the economy will slightly rise. However, dependence on one industry means vulnerability. On behalf of the Government of Yakutia, our corporation is exploring the possibility of locating processing plants here in the format of industrial parks. The PSEDA regime can create additional opportunities for economic diversification.

I believe that any mechanisms that can ensure the diversification of the economy of single-industry cities are useful. However, it will be necessary to work out the issues of interaction between the management company of a particular territory and already existing local governments.

- Neryungri is perhaps the most popular example when they talk about single-industry towns in Yakutia. And what other cities may be contenders for the establishment of TOSED in them?

- A single-industry town may not experience problems in the economy in a given market situation. For example, Norilsk is, in fact, a monocity, where Norilsk Nickel is the main enterprise, or Surgut is the city of oil workers. If we take it by analogy with Neryungri, in the Aldan region of Yakutia there is a settlement of gold miners Nizhniy Kuranakh. Today the conjuncture for gold is good, and therefore this settlement has no serious problems. But in the mid-1990s. Nizhny Kuranakh was on the verge of collapse - the price of gold then fell sharply. Does this mean that it is necessary to form alternative opportunities for development for this village? Sure! And mineral deposits are not unlimited. So you can approach almost any settlement, the basis of which is the development of certain minerals. We need to look for options for them in the long term.

- You mentioned two settlements in Yakutia - Neryungri and Aldan - areas where the Corporation for the Development of South Yakutia (South Yakutsk Corporation) operates. What event became a landmark in the corporation's activities at the end of last year?

- The main result of 2014 was the practical start of the implementation of the project of national importance "Integrated Development of South Yakutia". This is the first phase of the project. Until now, we have only talked about design work. Over the past five years, 7,4 billion rubles were allocated for the development of project documentation, a large number of infrastructure facilities were designed. In 2014, the construction of a railway line to the Inaglinsky coal complex began at the expense of the federal budget. The construction of the coal complex itself by Kolmar began even earlier. We plan that infrastructure facilities for the first stage of the Taiga iron ore mining and processing plant will also be built over the next two years.

- If we talk about other projects being implemented not only within the framework of the Southern Yakutia Development Corporation, but about the Far Eastern projects in general, how can the crisis affect them? Will the economic situation in the country scare away foreign investors?

- The situation is complex and multifactorial. In my opinion, in these difficult conditions for the Far East there is a chance to get an additional impetus for development. I have already said that in such crisis conditions the position of freezing everything is absolutely unacceptable, it is very important to make quick and correct decisions and concentrate efforts on implementing those projects that can have a positive effect. I believe that the development projects of the Far East in general are just such and can not be postponed. And all this, in the long run, will lead to positive shifts in the structure of the Russian economy and make it more stable.

- What other new projects are being prepared for implementation in the south of Yakutia?

- We plan to start preparation of the timber processing project in the area of ​​the city of Tommot this year. This is the Aldan district. Forestry in the region is underestimated (in Yakutia, anyway), and I believe that it will have a serious development, including with the participation of foreign investors.

- Recently the Yakutia Development Corporation was established. What is this structure and how does it differ from the South Yakut Corporation?

- The main task of the Development Corporation of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), which was registered in Yakutsk on December 22 last year, is the preparation of new projects - that link in the development of the territory, which is really weak. There are many different kinds of practical proposals, directions in the region, but there are no projects. By the way, this also applies to the entire Far East. Recently Yu. P. Trutnev again spoke about the insufficient elaboration of the TASED projects. The new Corporation will form new projects (and is already working on them) and not just "draw" business plans, but will engage in development. And the South Yakutsk Corporation is, in fact, the project office of one large complex project. It will join the new development institution.

- If you imagine that all the planned projects will be implemented, what kind of Yakutia you see in twenty years?

- For the development of such a huge region like Yakutia, 20 years is like one instant. But there are examples in history when serious shifts took place in a relatively short time. In the new history of Yakutia, this is the birth of the gold mining industry in the 1920s, then the creation of a powerful diamond mining complex, the construction of the Neryungrinsky coal plant and the city of Neryungri, the construction and commissioning of a railway line to Yakutsk, and in the last decade, the birth of oil production, the creation of a powerful scientific and educational center to the base of the North-Eastern University in Yakutsk. The next step is the construction of the Yakutsk gas production center and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline.

In fact, I would like to be sure that people who will live in the region will be happy. They will be interested to live here, they will strive here. Any business begins with an image, some projects, actions, businesses are created from it, which will work for the benefit of people.

Speaking in general about measures to support the development of the Far East, it is important, in my opinion, to understand: there are no simple solutions, no ready-made recipes and analogies. Yakutia is not Primorye, Primorye is not Khabarovsk Krai and Chukotka, and in general it is not Hong Kong or Singapore. The 21st century is not the 19th or 20th. We are facing a most difficult historical challenge, we must tune in to hard, well-coordinated work with a high degree of responsibility of each. And this is very interesting!

- Visual thinking is typical of romantics. So you are a romantic?

- It turns out that yes.

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