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Nikolay Kharitonov on weaknesses in the mechanisms of development of the Far East
Weak places in the "new economic policy" in the Far East are looking, along with EastRussia, the head of the State Duma Committee for Regional Policy and Problems of the North and Far East Nikolai Kharitonov.
- What, in your opinion, is the Far East for Russia?
- Three years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his address to the Federal Assembly, designated the XXI century the century of the development of the Far East. Behind this is the understanding of the Far East as a territory that is nothing but a Russian treasure trove, from which the life of the country is ensured. In addition, the Far East is also a great transit potential. With all this, it is possible to develop not just a processing industry, but environmentally friendly production - it is a question of the production of a pig-breeding complex and poultry farms. Of course, the work of this production primarily for local support, but also about the colossal demand from the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, where a large proportion of the world's hungry are concentrated, must not be forgotten. And let this be somewhat of a dream area, but in the future, along with such production in the Far East, the appearance of a high-speed railway may be possible.
- This is potential. And what is needed for its development?
- I will not reinvent the wheel. I'll tell you about the idea that I learned from the book - meetings of State Duma deputies' statements for 1906-2013 years. One deputy from the Kutaisi province once said that the development of the Far East is possible in Russia with a strong economic center and a strong army. It is logical - the Far East needs adequate financial support and protection.
- Are steps being taken in this direction?
- The first steps of the government and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East are completely correct and are properly perceived by the population. But the same mechanism of priority development territories (TAD) has some weak points. First, it is not spelled out in detail. Secondly, its positioning is not quite correct.
- What do you have in mind?
- TOP in the most correct interpretation - the territory that provides access to tax benefits, the corresponding financial and credit policy and other privileges. This is a kind of opportunity for a relaxed option for doing business, and practically for anyone: for someone who needs a loan, for someone who is interested in developing the business, and even for those who are just about to open a business. But without adequate financing - ahead - no programs for the development of the Far East and the Baikal region can be implemented. The point is that both financing and staffing should be outstripping. It can be said so: the Far East and the Baikal region should become the leading ones in all senses of the word. Become bigger and better than the European part of Russia, so that local people can see the concrete changes in living conditions.
- The people themselves should be the agitators of measures for the development of the Far East. Accordingly, the measures should be directed at themselves. After all, now against the background of the announced "Far Eastern policy" people from the European part of Russia are still invited to the Far East.
- And should instead stimulate the birth rate and reduce the outflow of the population?
- For the Far East today, an Agency for the Development of Human Capital has been created, an appropriate concept of demographic development has been developed, and a "Far Eastern hectare" project is being implemented. And even as if there are outstripping birth rates. But the small southern regions of the Far East today border on China, a country in whose northern part alone 150 million people live, and in 2016 17 million children were born. And this is just the beginning of the consequences of lifting the birth control in China. At the same time, judging by the picture that some media outlets reflect, there is reason to doubt who is actually better off living in the Far East today - a citizen of Russia or China.
- The notorious "Chinese threat"?
- No, at the moment I cannot say that there is a threat to the Far East from the citizens of China. But China still has the potential for such a threat: its surplus population will always seek a way out. And there is even some reason to believe that it stopped in its search just in the Far East. Chinese citizens under various pretexts are slowly entering the territory of the same Jewish Autonomous Region and other subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District. In China, there are whole unspoken programs, including those that stimulate its citizens to gain a foothold under any pretext, to ensure their life here for many years to come, in particular, thanks to marriages with Russian citizens. Everyone knows the interest of Chinese business in fertile land, environmentally friendly products, which inevitably means that it is already drawing a certain "own" future for the Far East. Time will tell to what extent the new protectionist measures that are being taken will prevent it.
- What now, investors from Asia and attract dangerous?
- One should realize that the creation of conditions for the arrival of investors can lead to the fact that Russia will subsequently be on a visit in its own territory - in strong dependence on these investors themselves.
- What is the alternative? Relocate its citizens?
- It is unlikely that people will take and immediately go to the Far East. Although, of course, it is not so much that the initiated demographic measures should work on stopping the outflow of the population, but rather on attracting people — the outflow should stop almost automatically. Only contract contractors from the North, in particular the Far Eastern region, today have 214 thousand people, including many people who quickly leave the North - the state is not able to provide them with housing, and at the current rate of financing of this article it is up to those who cannot get a housing certificate now, it will only come through 100 years. Another, no less vivid example of population outflow is a greater number of graduates from Far Eastern universities leaving for the European part of the country. Thus, both for stopping the outflow and for the influx of residents, an appropriate financial and credit policy is necessary. No, it is clear that not only it: it is necessary to solve both the problems of employment, and improvement of the population.
- Some beginning of this has already been made - for the development of the "Far Eastern hectare" you can take a cheap loan.
- Yes, the proposals are really interesting. All that remains is to find a sufficient number of Komsomol volunteers to develop these land plots in the Far East. Enough is definitely not to be found, I'll tell you right away. Only a little will turn out, and also due to the weakness of the mechanism. The main one is the insufficient area of a hectare for conducting more or less serious activities. Another weak point of the "Far Eastern" hectare "is that a large number of neglected or even untouched territories during the entire period of their existence fall into the zone of possible issuance.
"But money is not everything?" What else is needed for the development of the Far East?
- A large set of measures - everything that we set out in the resolution developed by the committee. It provides for relaxation of conscription in the Far East, the creation of jobs there specifically for applicants. And, of course, the adoption of an independent law on the development of the Far East. It is undoubtedly necessary - without it, all development programs are nothing more than wishes that can be both partially fulfilled and changed. Only a document that has legislative force obliges the strict implementation of certain initiatives. Unfortunately, the future of the law on the development of the Far East is still unclear. It is even likely that it will not be accepted. The reason is simple: there is no budgetary funds for the implementation of all its measures, and one can only hope for an investor. And the latter, as I have already mentioned, cannot be treated unequivocally. In any case, at present there is no single solution, thanks to which the development of the Far East would instantly occur. It's about long-term work.
- And how long?
- I think the Far East will change for the better - in the next 10-15 years.