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ASEZ "Transbaikalia": a dark past and a bright future?

March 1, 2021 will mark exactly one and a half years from the moment the program of the territories of advanced socio-economic development of the Trans-Baikal Territory began to work in Transbaikalia. The term is short, but it is already possible to sum up some results and predict future results.

In Transbaikalia, Hegel is now being refuted. More precisely, his immortal phrase: "History repeats itself twice - first as a tragedy, then as a farce." The Zabaikalye ASEZ is not at all an innovation for the region. The Trans-Baikal Territory has already passed all these "territories", "zones" and "centers". Moreover, it all began in the distant and turbulent nineties. What will be the final this time?

ASEZ "Transbaikalia": a dark past and a bright future?
Photo: press service of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Trans-Baikal Krya

DARK PAST

It all started with a phrase uttered by the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin on August 8, 1990 and addressed to the national autonomies of the RSFSR:

"Take as much sovereignty as you can swallow!"

The Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug then skillfully took advantage of the opportunities provided and set up a virtual offshore zone on its territory. Enterprises, mainly from Moscow, were presented with luxurious tax benefits, subject to registration in the district.

The conditions proposed by the Aginchan people were very similar to those offered by the Zabaikalye ASEZ today. Streams flowed into the district first, and then real cash flows.

Alas, then the district leadership could not sensibly dispose of the money received. Instead of investing in production, development of production and transport infrastructure, the district simply ate this money.

The unification referendum liquidated the tax liberties of the Aginsky District. Instead of the already unified Trans-Baikal Territory, they offered another "candy": the development of the South-East with the construction of five mining and processing plants and the Naryn-Lugokan railway.

“The chief federal inspector for the Chita region, Valery Popov, said that the Russian government will allocate 700 billion rubles for the development of the Trans-Baikal Territory over 10 years. (700 billion rubles is 10% of the total Russian budget for 2006 - author's note). part of the investments in the new subject of the Russian Federation will go after the unification of the Chita Region with the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug. According to Mr. Popov, the Trans-Baikal Territory will become the richest constituent entity of the Russian Federation in Siberia, and its economic development will be the largest project in the country. Through the investment fund, the official noted, the government intends to transfer 100 billion to the region, and the rest of the money in the amount of 600 billion will be a contribution of large state-owned companies - RAO UES of Russia, Russian Railways and other investors, ”the newspaper wrote on the eve of the referendum. Transbaikal worker. "

In the first years after the unification, everything was really good, even the Naryn-Lugokan road was opened, but that was the end of it. Investors did not particularly believe in the prospects of the territory and decided to save their money for other projects.

True, the Bystrinsky GOK still started working. It's already good, but nobody in the region saw 700 billion, and the region did not become the richest in Siberia.

With the funeral of this project, the time of the first governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory Ravil Geniatulin ended. Indirectly, it was he who was blamed for the failure of the project. He skillfully united the regions, but he could not move them into a bright future.

Under the next head of the region, Konstantin Ilkovsky, territories of advanced development began to acquire more specific forms, and the fashionable word "clusters" appeared. On the territory of the region, it was planned to create almost a dozen different clusters, including even a medical one.

The main mining and processing cluster (read - TOP) was going to be done on the basis of Krasnokamensk. It was planned to create here a powerful center for the enrichment of ore, including copper, which was supposed to come from the Udokan copper deposit, which was also planned to be launched.

Even the first residents of the territory showed up and work began on the modernization of the local CHP, but Konstantin Ilkovsky, behind a huge number of plans, could not cope with the resettlement of dilapidated and emergency housing. And Natalya Zhdanova took his place.

The fashionable word "cluster" immediately disappeared from the vocabulary of Trans-Baikal officials. They were supposed to be inspired by a new goal - Zhdanova did not make any plans in the territory of advanced development, she set the task to bring the number of sheep in the region to one million.

With proper support, good study and normal funding, the "million sheep" project had a right for the future and could well move Transbaikalia to the heights of prosperity. The region has always been livestock breeding, and during the Soviet years, sheep breeding developed well. Next, it would be possible to put forward projects for a million cows, horses, even rabbits, why not. The region had and still has resources for this.

But Zhdanova left and everyone forgot about the sheep.

The dark past has ended, it is not yet clear what the present has begun.

TOR "ZABAIKALYE": MYTHS

The modern stage of development of ASEZs in Transbaikalia began with the arrival of Alexander Osipov and the transfer of the region to the Far Eastern Federal District. The preparatory work lasted six months and on August 1, 2019, the Zabaikalye ASEZ began to work.

Apparently, having studied the past sad experience in the construction of advanced development areas in the Trans-Baikal Territory, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation - Plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation Yuri Trutnev warned the regional authorities against hasty projects and shabby sentiments:

“It is necessary to work with each project individually. Investors need to be supported, helped in launching and implementing projects. In order for people to want to live and work on the territory of Transbaikalia, it is necessary to create new high-paying jobs. I hope that the work on the development of the TOP will help in this, ”Trutnev said to the officials of the Transbaikalia government.

So what does the Zabaikalye ASEZ offer to future investors and residents?

First, there are tax preferences:

- The amount of insurance premiums for 10 years - 7,6% (for non-residents - 30%),

- zero income tax for the first 5 years, starting from the year in which the first profit from the activities in the TOP was received, in the next 5 years - 10% (the usual rate is 20%). For residents whose main activity is mining, logging, sawing and planing wood, the income tax rate will be 2% for the first 5 years, 10% for the next 5 years;

- zero land tax for three years;

- zero property tax - 0% for 5 years, starting from the year in which the property is registered as an object of fixed assets, 1,1% for the next 5 years. For residents whose main activity is mining, logging, sawmilling and planing of wood, the rate is 0,3% for 5 years, 1,3% for the next 5 years.

Secondly, tangible administrative preferences:

- obtaining land plots on favorable terms,

- provision of the necessary transport, engineering, energy and other infrastructure,

- reduction of the terms of scheduled inspections to 15 days,

- full support of residents at all stages of the project and the provision of public services,

- attraction of foreign workers without quotas.

During the first year of operation, 15 investors became residents of the TOP, implementing projects with a total investment of more than 130 billion rubles. It is planned to create more than five thousand jobs.

Of course, the scope that was promised by Transbaikalia during the unification of the regions in 2008 is not yet - up to 700 billion rubles of investments and 70 thousand new jobs are still far away - but the trouble has begun.

The first resident of the Zabaikalye ASEZ was the Innovation company, which implemented a project to build a plant for the production of pellets:

“Our company, the Innovation group, is, albeit not the largest, but the first resident of the Zabaikalye ASEZ, which has fully implemented its investment project and brought its production to the planned capacity. Production is very important for Transbaikalia - it is the processing of waste from the timber industry complex into ecologically clean biofuel pellets. This is literally a salvation for the air of Chita, ”says the general director of the plant Leonid Kuzmitsky.

Further more. Thanks to the preferential treatment, projects in the field of field development were supported - LLC Baikal Mining Company is building the Udokan mining and metallurgical plant at the Udokan copper deposit in the Kalarsky district. This project can be generally called a landmark for Transbaikalia. They fought over him unsuccessfully since the 90s of the last century. The license for the development of the field was constantly transferred, extended, but no one was in a hurry to enter the region. But the investor - "Baikal Mining Company" (since the end of last year it has been called "Udokan Copper") came, and the residents of the northernmost Kalarsky region in the region will no longer feel like a cut-off piece of Transbaikalia.

It is still a long way to the release of the first copper, but in the regional center of Chara, reconstruction of the airport has already begun, a kindergarten, a school, and a museum have been repaired. Thus, the start of a large investment project has already given a new development of the settlement.

The gold mining enterprise Taseevskoye LLC is creating a heap leaching complex based on the man-made waste deposit Baleiskaya ZIF-1 with a capacity of 840 thousand tons per year. LLC Ureisky Coal Mine is developing a coal deposit in the Duldurginsky District. Priargunsky Coal Mine LLC will launch a mining enterprise for the development of the Kutinsky brown coal deposit.

GC "Zolotaya Gora" is building a mining and processing plant to develop Talmanskaya area. The project provides for the extraction of 3 million tons of complex lead-zinc ore per year by underground and open pit mining.

The Kolos company plans to develop dairy farming, grow rapeseed, oats and wheat on an area of ​​20 thousand hectares. Also on the list of new investment projects is the complete reconstruction of the resort and tourist complex "Cook", the creation of a mining and processing plant at the Zhelezny Kryazh deposit and a wholesale and logistics center for storing 10 thousand tons of fruit and vegetable products in Chita.

And this is not a complete list of investors, but even from this list it is clear that the prospects are great, but there are always circumstances that bring unbridled optimists down to earth.

TOP "ZABAIKALYE: REALITIES

One of the main problems in the implementation of the Zabaikalye ASEZ project is the scarcity of labor resources. The outflow of population from the region is proceeding at a rapid pace; in 2020, two people left the Trans-Baikal Territory every three hours. First of all, young, enterprising and skilled workers are leaving.

“It seems to me that there is no such problem with the unemployed and such a problem with the scarcity of jobs anywhere in the country. It is specific for us, ”says the Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory, Alexander Osipov. - At the same time, unfortunately, the system of secondary vocational education, the system of career guidance, the system of structural transformation of redundant personnel in the direction of scarce vacancies is completely killed in our country. That is, unfortunately, we do not have all these three systems of employment ”.

One problem leads to another - the region urgently needs to restore the system of vocational training. The region will not leave on shift workers and foreign guest workers. This was clearly shown by the coronavirus pandemic, when such an industry as construction in Transbaikalia simply stood up. She fully supported the Chinese builders.

Such a gap in the staff cannot be quickly eliminated. Yes, shift workers willingly go to Transbaikalia, but few consider the region as a permanent place of residence. High housing prices and almost zero development of the social sphere are frightening, especially in the districts.

What to do in this difficult situation and how to lure people here is still unclear, the current leadership of the region has no decision yet.

But the shortage of personnel is noticeable not only at the grassroots level, but also in the leading sector. After the region became part of the Far Eastern Federal District, the leadership was entirely from Primorye. The locals either did not want to, or arranged them with their qualifications, but this scares the indigenous Transbaikal people. Many are sure that temporary workers have arrived who do not care about the development of a region that is not native to them, they say, they will earn money for themselves and move to warmer regions.

The personnel leapfrog in the leadership of the Zabaikalye ASEZ is also frightening. Deputy Prime Minister of the Trans-Baikal Territory Mikhail Churkin, who from the very beginning oversaw the project, resigned. The management of LLC UK TOP Zabaikalye has also changed. All this does not in the best way affect the final result.

In a word, it is still too early to talk about any positive results of the work of the Transbaikalia ASEZ project. Work is underway, the number of residents is increasing, but there are still more problems and they must be solved in the very near future, otherwise the bright future of the Zabaikalye ASEZ will become a dark past.

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