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Socio-economic development of the Far East: projects and realities

The socio-economic development of the Far East in 2015 was held in ambiguous conditions

On the one hand, the general economic problems of the country could not but affect it. Moreover, Western sanctions have also affected some Far Eastern projects, for example, the South Kirinskoye gas field (the Sakhalin-3 project) and the Komsomolsk refinery of Rosneft. On the other hand, the launch of new projects and the continued implementation of the old ones have played a positive role. As a result, the dynamics of key indicators was either positive, or not as negative, as in the country as a whole. In general, the Far East turned out to be one of the relatively successful regions of the country.

Socio-economic development of the Far East: projects and realities

Rostislav Turovsky

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia
During the year there was a gradual, but not very rapid promotion of a number of new investment projects. The key importance in the Far East now has projects in the fuel and energy sector, as well as related projects Infrastructure projects. The gradual transformation of the Far East into one of the leading oil and gas regions of the country continues. If so far Sakhalin has played a major role (where further expansion of liquefied natural gas production is planned), now Yakutia is becoming an increasingly important oil and gas region. The construction of an export gas pipeline "Siberia Power" was started, according to which gas to Yakutia and the Irkutsk region will start flowing to China in a few years. Another major project is connected with the new gas flow - the Amur Gas Processing Plant. In addition, during the year, oil exports grew eastward through the port of Kozmino. To further expand exports, modernization of the ESPO pipeline is required, which is included in the latest investment plans of Transneft.

Increased attention is paid to the coal industry. In 2015, decisions were taken on the selection of priority investment projects by the government (six in all), as well as projects designed to co-finance the Far Eastern Development and Baikal Region Development Fund (also six projects). Three coal mining projects (in Yakutia, the Khabarovsk Territory and Sakhalin), and one project of a coal port terminal (Khabarovsk Territory) fell into this group at once.

Positive shifts are outlined in metallurgy, including the traditional for the territory production of precious metals. One of the stakes was made by the state on iron ore: the iron ore mining and processing plant in Yakutia was among the priorities, prepared for the launch of the mining plant in the Jewish Autonomous Region (and therefore a railway bridge is being built in China). Another priority is gold. Earned new gold deposits in the Magadan region. For the future, the government has indicated support for one gold-mining project in the Amur Region and two at once in Kamchatka. Apparently, the development of the largest Natalka field in the Magadan region will accelerate, the beginning of which has been constantly postponed due to problems with energy supply.

Thus, the focus in the Far East continues to be on the resource-based economy and its interconnected infrastructure projects (including the modernization of the Transsib and BAM, which is supposed to be carried out with the involvement of funds from the National Welfare Fund). In the same logic, the increased interest of the state to the fishing industry of the Far East, where a number of substantive discussions were held (including at the State Council site), which determined the rules of the game for the future (changing the principles for granting quotas), and also marked the creation in Primorsky Krai largest fish cluster of the country. As for the manufacturing industry, it is clearly lagging behind. Nevertheless, the state decided on the financing of the new shipyard "Zvezda" - using the funds of "Rosneftegaz". Due to the state order, the aircraft building plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur feels rather well. With great difficulty, the ambitious project of turning the Far East into a new center of Russian cosmonautics is still being implemented: the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome has been delayed and fraught with many scandals, but after the intervention of the head of state, it finally comes to the finish line.

As a result, there is a situation where the development of the Far East continues by inertia, while new projects are, as a rule, at the initial stage and do not give immediate effect. Nevertheless, the actual trends in the development of the territory look quite positive by Russian standards, although they do not apply to all regions. For example, while Russia is experiencing a decline in industry, in the Far East there was an increase of 3% (according to Rosstat data for January-October 2015: in Russia during this period, the industrial decline was 3,3%). The growth drivers were the most successful raw regions - Sakhalin (by 14,4%) and Yakutia (by 5,9%). However, a number of regions experienced a noticeable decline in the industrial sector: in the Amur Region it was 9,1%, in the Jewish Autonomous Region - 9,9%, and in Chukotka and all 12%. From large regions, the decline in industrial production in Primorye was noticeable (by 5,3%).

A similar situation has developed with investments: against the background of the all-Russian decline in 5,8%, the Far East showed their growth by 4,8% (according to Rosstat data for January-September 2015), however, it is extremely uneven. The obvious leaders in terms of investment remained the same Sakhalin (166,1 billion rubles for the same period) and Yakutia (133,9 billion rubles), with Sakhalin showing a significant growth - by 14%. A positive trend and a very important pledge for the future was a sharp increase in investments in the Amur (at 59,6%) and Magadan (at 59,3%) areas, which are characterized by an unstable socio-economic situation (for the current situation in these regions, as we will see below, Unfortunately, does not affect). As a result, the volume of investments in the Amur region (66,2 billion rubles) reached the level of the Khabarovsk Territory (66,6 billion rubles), but still less than in the Primorsky Territory (74,1 billion rubles).

At the same time, the "capital" region of the Far East - the Khabarovsk Territory, on the contrary, experienced a major decline in investment - by 27,5%. In total, investments in five regions of the Far Eastern Federal District out of nine - Khabarovsk Krai, Primorsky Krai, Yakutia, Chukotka and Kamchatka, decreased. Not inspiring optimism is their significant decline in Primorsky Krai - by 7%. Thus, the "central" regions of the Far East demonstrated negative trends in attracting investments, in contrast to a number of marginal raw regions. Key TORs created in these regions, the situation has not changed yet.

The ambiguous situation has developed in the construction sector. In the Far East, it still lowered its turnover (by 5,2% in January-October 2015), although not to the same extent as in Russia as a whole (decline by 10,3%). Interesting is the sharp increase in the Amur Region - by 74,2%, which coincided with the inflow of investments into this region. However, the investments that did not receive Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories showed an even greater decline in construction, the first - by 20%, the second - by 21,7%. Almost by 40% this indicator has deteriorated in the Jewish Autonomous Region. Even on Sakhalin, the construction was almost 15% less. Yakutia also stood out for the better against the general background, simply retaining the previous volumes of construction.

The actual remains structural problems Far Eastern economy. Growth in industry and in investment volumes was mainly "raw" in nature. In other sectors, there were no obvious positive shifts. It is noteworthy, for example, that in the agricultural sector the decline in the first half of the year 2015 (according to the Federal State Statistics Service) occurred in all southern regions, where the agro-industrial complex has significant significance (Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories, the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region). And in regions with a solid share of the rural population, the decline was a considerable 7,2% in the Amur Region and 13,4% in the Jewish Autonomous Region. Growth of agricultural production in northern regions, incl. Sharp - in Chukotka (according to Rosstat, the output of agricultural products in the ChAO in January-June 2015 amounted to 76,6% to the corresponding period of the previous year, ie, decreased) is not so important, because there the AIC is not a branch Specialization.

Chukotka generally differs from year to year by constant jumps in its economic indicators (construction work, for example, has grown there more than five times).

Under current conditions, it is not yet possible to solve the social problems of the Far East, as evidenced by the continuing migration outflow of the population, which affected all the subjects of the Far East Federal District this year. In January-September, 2015, the Far East, according to Rosstat, left 199,5 thousand people, and profits 181,6 thousand. In the federal district as a whole, the outflow rate did not increase, but the migration balance was negative everywhere. Moreover, the rate of population decline increased in one of the key regions - the Khabarovsk Territory.

Nevertheless, in general, the Far East on the Russian background looks good on the dynamics of its social indicators. For example, the DFO has kept the level of real incomes of the population (for January-September 2015 they, according to Rosstat, grew by 0,2%), while in Russia this indicator fell by 4,2%. However, incomes of citizens have seriously decreased in the Magadan Region - by 11,4%. It is interesting that in Khabarovsk Territory, in conditions of negative dynamics of general economic indicators, real incomes of the population, on the contrary, showed an increase of 6,4%. In other regions, the incomes of the population have changed not very significantly, which in itself is not bad.
The retail trade volume, which is a good indicator of social welfare, was almost at the same level as last year: it fell by 1% in the Far Eastern Federal District (according to Rosstat data), and in Russia as a whole - by 2015%. A more significant decrease in retail trade turnover (at the level of more than 8,8%, but still below the average Russian) was demonstrated only by the Amur and Magadan regions.

The increase in prices in the Far East in general corresponded to the all-Russian level: the index of food prices in October 2015 by December 2014 amounted to 110,3% (in Russia - 111,2%). However, a very noticeable price increase in remote regions is a cause of concern - an obvious consequence of their isolated situation. For example, in Kamchatka, food prices rose by 10,6%, in Chukotka - by 9,5%, in the Magadan region - by 11,4%. Thus, in Magadan Oblast, the decline in the incomes of the population was combined with a rise in prices and a decline in trade, which makes it particularly problematic. It is impossible, alas, to say that in any of the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District there has not been a significant increase in prices.

Unemployment in the Far East remains at a moderate level. Rosstat data, obtained from the results of sample surveys of the population in August-October 2015, indicate that unemployment in the Far Eastern Federal District (5,8%) almost does not differ from the average Russian (5,3%). For the worse, however, the Jewish Autonomous Region (7,6%) stands out, which is expected, but also Yakutia (7,2%), which indicates that there are problems in the labor market in this relatively prosperous region. At the same time, in the remaining northern regions - in Kamchatka, Chukotka, in the Magadan Region, unemployment does not exceed 4%.

Noteworthy and not the worst financial situation. The growth of revenues of the consolidated regional budgets in the FEFD was higher than the average Russian (15% and 6%, respectively), and it occurred precisely at the expense of own revenues, which grew by 25%, rather than federal transfers, which decreased by 11% (in calculations we relied on the Federal treasury, comparing January-October 2015 and 2014.).

Again, the growth was achieved primarily by the most financially prosperous region of the DFO - Sakhalin (income growth by 51%, including own tax and non-tax revenues - by 56%). But its own income also increased significantly in Yakutia (by 24%), Magadan (at 20%) and Amur (at 11%), in Chukotka (by 46%). However, the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region, on the contrary, demonstrated negative trends. In the Khabarovsk Territory, budget revenues decreased by 10% (including own ones - at 2%), in the Jewish Autonomous Region - by 6% (own - at 4%). However, we see that the reduction of federal aid, and not the collection of taxes on the territory, influenced the Far East in a negative way on the income situation (and also on the forced decline of some regions of expenditure).

The federal center, creating new development institutions in the DFO and approving investment projects, begins to change its attitude towards the region. The Center wants the Far East to become more developed and self-sufficient. This has not happened yet, but the volume of transfers coming from Moscow is already falling. This is particularly noticeable in the example of the Khabarovsk Territory (reduced transfers to 34%), Magadan (at 24%) and Amur (at 12%) areas.

But here it is just an uncomfortable situation when the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, except Sakhalin with its unique budget surplus, are not ready for financial independence. Sign of this was the growth of the debt burden, which turned out to be much more serious than in Russia as a whole (calculations based on the data of the Ministry of Finance on 1 November 2015, in comparison with 1 November 2014). If in Russia the state debt of the subjects of the federation grew during the period under study by 21%, then in the DFO - by 46%. The increased debt burden - the ratio of the national debt to budget revenues - now distinguishes the Amur and Magadan regions, the Jewish Autonomous Region and Chukotka. At the same time, in the Magadan Region, the debt itself increased by 2,2, the negative dynamics was also characterized by Primorsky (an increase of 4,3 times) and Khabarovsk (an increase of 68%), Kamchatka (an increase of 75%), although the debt volumes themselves Critical for the budget.

As a result, it is not easy for the regions to fulfill their social obligations, although so far the authorities are coping with them. For example, in the field of health care, the DFO showed an increase in spending at a level higher than the national level. Calculations based on the data of the Ministry of Finance when comparing January-October 2015 with the same period of 2014 showed that in the Far East the expenditures of the consolidated regional budgets for health care increased by 10%, and in Russia as a whole - by 5%. Salaries in this sector in all regions are already significantly higher than the average. In the first half of 2015, the salary of doctors exceeded the regional average by at least 27% (in Yakutia) and even doubled (in the Jewish Autonomous Region). But budget expenditures on education grew slightly (by 3% both in the country as a whole and in the Far Eastern Federal District), and the level of wages in this sector is noticeably lower than in health care. Thus, in Sakhalin and Chukotka, in the first half of the year, the salary in the field of education simply corresponded to the average salary in the region. However, in other regions of the FEFD, it exceeded the average level by at least 24% (in Yakutia, the Jewish Autonomous Region), but the maximum - by 35% (in Kamchatka). Thus, the regions of the FEFD met the requirements of the “May decrees” of the president, but in public health this was noticeably better than in education.

But the obvious sacrifice of budgetary savings is housing and communal services with a rate of spending cuts exceeding the national average, a decline of 7% in the DFO and 3% in the country as a whole (given that in the Far East these costs are always higher than in the rest of Russia in Communication with a higher need, especially in remote areas). The expenses for the road economy decreased by 2% (with growth in Russia by 6%). In the budgets for the next year, the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District tried to maintain the social component of their expenditures, but the safety margin is low, as evidenced by the growth of the national debt.

Some regions already this year have significantly reduced budget expenditures as a whole, especially the Amur region (by 15% in January-October 2015 in comparison with the same period of 2014) and the Jewish Autonomous Region (by 13%). Almost total cuts in social spending in the Amur region’s financially-budgetary point of view (18% for social policy, 14% for education, 10% for health care, and for housing and utilities and 31%) were striking. The budgets of the Magadan Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the Khabarovsk Territory differed, according to our calculations as of 1 in November, by a large deficit exceeding 10%. Although, Sakhalin, on the contrary, remains unique in modern Russia, where revenues substantially exceed expenditures (its budget surplus exceeded 30%, and in previous months was even higher). Under these conditions, by the way, it was decided that the main part of financing the new federal target program for the socio-economic development of the Kuril Islands, which will start operating from 2016, will fall on the regional budget in the first years.

Thus, on the one hand, the Far East does not demonstrate negative dynamics in its socio-economic development. First of all, this is the result of the gradual implementation of previous raw material projects, i.e. prevailing and in this case a good inertia. It is worth recalling that many of the Far Eastern projects are simply not yet implemented projects of the Soviet period, when local resources were not yet put into circulation due to their remote geographical location and lack of demand. On the other hand, the margin of safety in the Far East is small, and this demonstrates a gradual increase in budgetary problems, even if they are not yet of a critical nature. The center, for its part, increasingly relies on the independent development of the Far East, creates conditions for this, but does not give a lot of money. But numerous new projects, on which the strategic perspective of the FEFD depends, must still take place, this requires more than one year. All this means that the coming years may become for the Far East a period of unsustainable development, high expectations and difficult current realities, as well as acute inter-regional imbalances.
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