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Vasily Orlov: “Large projects will give animation”

The Governor of the Amur Region shared with EastRussia his impressions of the President’s Address to the Federal Assembly, expectations of major investment projects and plans for the social development of the region

Vasily Orlov: “Large projects will give animation”
- Vasily Alexandrovich, our conversation literally follows the footsteps of the Message President Vladimir Putin to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. Please tell us what is important for the Amur region you can highlight in the Address?
- The message was devoted to very important topics for the Far East. Much attention is paid to the issues of demography, support for the low-income strata of the population and poverty reduction. For us, these are key questions. A large set of activities is provided with funding from the federal budget. Our task is to timely harmonize the regional legislation in order to implement all these initiatives.

The president named several economic projects that are important for the Amur region. In this part, the doubling of the capacity of BAM and Transsib, as well as the need for a wider use of gas engine fuel are especially important for us. Taking into account our gas projects, this opens up new opportunities for the application of such technology in the Amur Region.

Much attention is paid to the development of education, providing industry with trained modern production personnel. The President spoke about the need to develop a network of children's technoparks "Quantorium", as well as the development of a branch of the children's educational center "Sirius". In both areas, work is underway in our region. Quantorium in Blagoveshchensk was opened at the end of 2018. In 2019 we will open Quantorium in Svobodny. On the basis of the Kolosok children's health camp, we will create a branch of the Sirius children's center in Sochi. The corresponding agreement was signed at the investment forum in Sochi.

- Today, the Amur Region is implementing three major investment projects in terms of the country’s scale, these are the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, the gas processing and gas chemistry center in Svobodny, and the Vostochny cosmodrome. will the budget receive income from these projects?
- For the region, participation in projects is attracting billions of dollars in investment, creating hundreds of new high-performance jobs, developing power supply and communications facilities, industrial and municipal infrastructure, social facilities and educational institutions, additional tax revenues to the regional budget.

At the end of 2019, the Power of Siberia gas trunkline is planned to be put into operation, which means bringing the gas industry in the Amur Region to a new level — gas transportation will start and facilities will be launched.

Already started the development of a unified gas supply system. A gas supply scheme is being developed for the city of Svobodny, and further Blagoveshchensk, Blagoveshchensky district, and also the territory near the Power of Siberia gas pipeline will be involved in the process. The next stage is the design and construction of intra-settlement (street) gas distribution networks, the transfer of housing and communal infrastructure to the consumption of natural gas. 

As part of the development of the gas complex in the region, the Amursky Gas Processing Plant investment project is being implemented, which is necessary for the deep processing of multicomponent gas coming through the Power of Siberia gas pipeline. Thanks to the Amur Gas Processing Plant, the infrastructure of the city of Svobodny and Svobodnensky District is rapidly growing. Due to the arriving specialists for the construction of the plant, the population of the city is growing. Accordingly, we are developing the social sphere and utilities, business comes into the domestic sphere, including trade, entertainment and leisure.

In the initial phase of the construction of the neighborhood for five thousand inhabitants, in which the housing stock will be about two thousand apartments. It is planned to commission a sports complex, a kindergarten for 350 children, a school for 9000 pupils, a clinic for 290 visits per day, a center for culture and leisure, a shopping center.

In the future, the development of many sectors of the economy that are directly dependent on the supply of gas and their products. Currently, investors in the Amur Region are increasingly showing interest in investors who are ready to develop a network of gas-engine fuel filling stations and organize energy-intensive production. This is just one of the examples of the technological business, the conditions for which are formed as our large investment projects are implemented.

- You recently said that "for 2019, the quotas for foreign labor in gold mining were reset to zero. For us, this is fundamentally important." Will there be enough staff in the Amur Region and will this not become a repulsive factor in attracting investments, especially foreign ones?
- Indeed, there is a certain shortage of personnel for the gold mining industry. But here it is necessary to clarify that this is basically a shortage of truly qualified specialists, and, moreover, conscientiously related to their duties. There were always such workers.

Therefore, as a rule, new enterprises that create personnel from scratch are experiencing serious difficulties with staffing. It is they who are looking for an easier way out in the form of attracting Chinese labor. And of course, those enterprises in which the founders are citizens of the PRC.

However, practice shows that both of these categories of organizations that need foreign workers are not so much a source of investment and budget revenues as a source of various problems in the gold mining industry, ranging from gross river pollution to criminal trafficking in gold. And it is difficult to call the investments that they contribute to the region's GRP, due to the insignificant scale of investments. And the volumes of gold mined by them, respectively, are also small against the background of the contribution of Russian enterprises. So, “resetting” the quota for attracting Chinese citizens will not significantly affect the development of gold mining.  

- What measures do you plan to take to ensure that investors who are considering the opportunity to invest in projects in the Far East come to the Amur Region?
- In the Amur region continue to actively apply the new tools of advanced development of the Far East. Thus, since 2015 in the Russian Federation, a special regime has been in effect for investors - the territory of priority development, the Free Port of Vladivostok. Investors have unprecedented benefits.

In the Far East, 18 of advanced development areas has been created. There are three of them in the Amur Region, these are the Belogorsk TOR, the Priamurskaya TOR, and the Svobodny TOR. As you know. The status of the resident of the territory of advanced development provides a number of advantages: tax privileges, the ability to use the free customs zone, obtaining administrative support. To work with investors on the principle of “one window”, the Government of the Amur Region created the ANO “Agency of the Amur Region on Attracting Investments”.

Another effective measure for enhancing investment activity is the state infrastructure support for priority investment projects planned for implementation in the Far East. 

Investors are also supported by federal development institutions, such as the Foundation for the Development of the Far East and Baikal Region, the ANO Agency for the Development of Human Capital in the Far East, the ANO Agency for the Far East for Attracting Investments and Export Support. , JSC Federal Corporation for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises.

- Can the Free Port be extended to the Amur Region?
- We are conducting this work with the federal authorities - we are looking at the possibility of extending the regime of the Free Port of Vladivostok to the city of Blagoveshchensk already in the 2019 year. This is a very favorable mode for business, we see an excellent experience of Vladivostok, where the number of residents has already exceeded 500. Blagoveshchensk has a border position with the PRC, within the municipality there are an airport and two river ports, three international check points. I am sure that the regime will enjoy significant demand from entrepreneurs.

In general, our task is to make the Amur Region as attractive as possible for domestic and foreign investors, in which the Oblast Government is certainly interested.

- Residents of the region responded to the task set by the head of state, and very actively express their proposals to the National Program for the Development of the Far East. The regional government is now preparing proposals based on the opinions of the population. What are the proposals from the inhabitants of the Amur region leading?
- We had 600 meetings with people, 20 thousands of people participated in them. What do they say? The low level of incomes of the population, high price increases, poor accessibility of the region from the point of view of logistics, high airfares, and constant questions about the quality of medical care are the red thread. There are suggestions that, in my opinion, will help solve this problem. Thus, tariff cuts, subsidized lease payments, mortgage subsidies are examples of measures that can help improve the lives of people in the Far East.

In addition, people have certain expectations from “tomorrow”. Everyone sees large-scale construction projects, which we have just talked about. Naturally, hopes are being formed that there will be a multiplication from large enterprises for industry, for the economy, for science, for the social sphere, and so on. What will improve the urban environment, infrastructure will improve. 

- At the meeting on the treatment of municipal solid waste in Moscow, you told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev about a slight shift in the introduction of measures for the treatment of municipal solid waste (TKO) on April 1. Tell us more about this new system of handling of MSW and why is the date shifting?
- The law is important. It will solve environmental problems that have accumulated over decades. But the Amur region by January 1 was not ready for reform. Not all municipalities have prepared garbage collection sites, and the land under the temporary waste disposal sites has not been converted to industrial. There are many complaints to the standards for waste disposal. The preparation by the municipalities, although it has been conducted for the last few years, has been done poorly.

Therefore, the region needs to once again consider in detail the implementation of the law. Together with local governments, work is being done in this area. It should align landfill sites, deal with the land, make repeated measurements and clarify regulations. To clarify the waste generation standards in the region, more than 10 thousands of control "winter" waste measurements were conducted. 

So the regional operators will start collecting, transporting and storing the MSW from 1 in April. Management companies and shipping companies need to ensure timely collection of garbage from the accumulation sites. Up to the designated date, the executive authorities will need to make additional measurements and adjustments to the accumulation standards, make changes to the waste management scheme, and resolve the issue of transferring temporary accumulation sites to the reg-operators. Local governments need to ensure control over the timely collection of garbage in the subordinate territories, make a complete inventory of places of accumulation of MSW.

By the way, we analyzed the general situation in Russia. The Amur region was included in the list of regions with minimum tariffs, along with a number of subjects, such as the Altai Territory, the Vladimir and Yaroslavl Regions, and the Chechen Republic.

- What measures will be taken in the Amur region to reduce the level of poverty of the population?
- Traditionally, the most vulnerable categories that are at risk of falling below the poverty line are families with children; families in which a child was born and one of the family members performs the functions of caring for a child without being able to carry out labor activities; retired citizens by age. To reduce the poverty level of families with children in December 2017, the federal law 418-ФЗ was passed, providing for families whose average per capita income does not exceed 1,5 multiple of the subsistence minimum, payment for the firstborn in the amount of the subsistence minimum for the child.

In the Amur region, according to the results of 2018, more than 1600 people received such payments, which is 48,9% of the total number of births of the firstborn. In his Address to the Federal Assembly, the President instructed to expand the circle of families eligible for state support, setting the need criterion in the amount of two subsistence minimums. We believe that the coverage of families in which the firstborn was born, the measures of state support will be 70%. Families who have given birth to a second child and faced financial difficulties are entitled to a monthly payment at the expense of the parent (family) capital. In 2018, this amount was formed in the amount of 11 979 rubles.

Currently, I have instructed members of the regional government to reconsider approaches to providing social support measures for large families without taking into account the need criterion. In the Amur region more than 9 live among thousands of families that already use support measures, after adjusting the regulatory framework, the coverage of families with support measures will be 100%.

Special emphasis in the fight against poverty is given to the social contract with the family. The state provides financial support for the organization of its own business, the development of subsidiary farming. Such a tool on the territory of the Amur region is valid. Following 2018, 392 man signed social contracts with social security authorities. A new impetus to the development of this direction is expected, including through the support of the federal budget.

As for citizens of retirement age, whose pension does not reach the subsistence minimum, since January 2019, it is planned to revise approaches to indexation of pensions. The amount of indexation will be paid to pensioners who receive a federal social supplement.

Poverty reduction in the region will also be ensured by the implementation of national projects “Demography”, “Housing and Urban Environment”, “Labor Productivity and Employment Support”, which envisages financial support for families to give birth to children, support citizens in improving their living conditions, including young families, the creation of additional places in kindergartens for children aged from 1,5 to 3 years, the promotion of women's employment (retraining and advanced training of women on maternity leave), the promotion of ozanyatosti of the unemployed, Training of employees in order to increase productivity, and other measures.

- You are talking about supporting families with children. And what is the birth rate dynamics? What measures to increase the birth rate are already used in the region, and what measures are you going to initiate?
- Health care affects demography not only by reducing mortality, but also by increasing fertility - through the prevention of abortion and the increased availability of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Immediately, I note, on IVF we have a very good dynamics. 2018 procedures were performed in the 598 year, which is 15% more than in the 2017 year and 30% more than in the 2016 year. 

Also, in order to preserve and strengthen the reproductive health of young families in two districts of the Amur Region, a pilot project to issue certificates “The Health of a Young Family” has been launched since May 2017.

It should be noted, the project showed a good result. In the registry office 689 certificates were issued. Based on them, 236 couples underwent a comprehensive examination. Many have already had a long-awaited result - this is 61 pregnancy, healthy children are born. Some couples are being treated for infertility. The project is popular with newlyweds, we are looking at how to expand the territory of action. Plans to implement the project throughout the region.

And as one of the factors that improve the birth rate, there is a decrease in the number of abortions. When analyzing the statistics for 2018 and in comparison with 2017, we see a decrease in the number of applications of women for medical legal abortion by 8,2% less. At the same time, abortions were performed by 12,9% less than a year earlier. Here, of course, preventive work affects, we intend to continue it further.

- At what pace in the Amur region is the project of resettlement from dilapidated emergency housing?
- We look forward to the dynamics in this matter. On the one hand, starting from 2019, the Amur Region will begin to receive targeted funding for the resettlement of emergency housing stock as part of the federal project “Ensuring a Sustainable Reduction in Unsuitable Living Housing”. We compiled and sent to the Ministry of Construction of Russia a register of apartment buildings that were recognized as emergency until 01.01.2017 of the year. Accordingly, those living in these houses will have the opportunity to move into comfortable housing. In this line of our region in 2019-2020, funds in the amount of 541,2 million rubles are provided. These funds will be directed to the resettlement of 10 thousand square meters. m of emergency housing, which will improve the living conditions for more 500 residents of the region.

On the other hand, part of the measures for the resettlement of citizens from emergency housing goes through the social development of regional economic growth centers. Thanks to funding for the so-called “single subsidy” for the regions of the Far East, more 350 people will be relocated to social events.

I will note that the resettlement of Amur residents from emergency housing will be carried out both in apartments purchased on the secondary market and those acquired in new buildings. To date, monitoring of all secondary housing in the region, construction organizations, land for the construction of houses has been conducted.

- In your opinion, what needs to be done in order to reverse the trend of population outflow from the Far East to other regions of the country? Maybe some special benefits for all Far Easterners, and not just for those who move to the region under various programs? 
- In the Amur Region, we observe a slight decrease in the migration outflow - since 2015, it has decreased by 10%. This is largely due to the implementation of large investment projects in the region - the Vostochny cosmodrome, the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, the Amursky gas processing plant, the border bridge over the Amur River, the Nizhne-Bureiskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant. However, fewer people come to the region than they leave - by the end of 2018, the difference between the flows amounted to thousands of people 3,4. 

The Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the region pay special attention to solving the issue of increasing the population size and reducing the migration outflow. An action plan is being implemented for the Amur Region to implement the Concept of the demographic policy of the Far East for the period up to 2025. It is aimed at attracting people to the territory of the Far East for permanent residence, their adaptation and integration into society; to facilitate the resettlement of compatriots living abroad; to create conditions and incentives for securing young people in the Far East and attracting young professionals from other regions.

We are actively preparing the infrastructure - a new residential community will be built for 5 thousand residents in the Svobodnyi gas processing plant, spoke about it earlier. To ensure the operation of the cosmodrome, a whole modern city of Tsiolkovsky is laid, designed for a population of up to 30 thousand people.

As for benefits, national projects “Demography”, “Housing and Urban Environment” have been developed, within which financial support is provided for families who give birth to children, support for citizens in improving their living conditions, including young families, and other measures aimed at reducing migration outflow of the population. 

Additional measures for the Far East to reduce infrastructure restrictions, improve the quality of life of the population, ensuring population growth, will be included in the National Program for the Development of the Far East for the period up to 2025 and for the future to 2035. The implementation of these activities of the region will increase the population of the region to 805 thousand people to 2025 year.
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