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"We do not have time for swinging"

Acting head of Yakutia Aisen Nikolayev on the development of the republic in the near future

28 May, the mayor of Yakutsk Aisen Nikolaev was appointed Acting Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) by presidential decree. For a month since the appointment, Mr. Nikolaev managed to come up with several interesting initiatives and promised to optimize the management system in Yakutia. East Russia asked what to expect the biggest Russian subject in the coming years with a new team of managers.


- As a part of the government of Yakutia, with your arrival on the post of interim head of the republic, great changes began. With what ideology do you approach the formation of the team?

- The formation of a new team is far from complete - probably, it will happen only after the September elections. If everything works out, as we think, and I win the election, the government of the republic will retire, after which a new composition will be formed. At the same time, many people ask me: why do not you wait for September, now you make painful changes for many, say goodbye to many well-deserved people, change your structure? But we do not have time for swinging, there is not even a month left. The situation is obvious: we have a clear budget crisis, connected with the imbalance of the republican budget in 2017-2018. There are obvious problems with the flooding that began this spring and has not ended so far - the largest in recent decades - that we must resolve in the shortest possible time. 

- These are tactical tasks, there have always been and will be many. Will there be any change in the development strategy of the republic?

- Strategic tasks, of course, are also worthwhile. But they need to be solved in the shortest possible time. For example, it is necessary to bring the state programs of the republic in line with the goals and tasks that put the new "May decree" of the president of the country. All state programs at the federal level will be drawn up based on the tasks of the decree by the fall. Accordingly, we are waiting for the transfer of proposals - and for their development we need entirely new approaches, which the President of the country very clearly indicated. Accordingly, all this requires a new team, new people.  

- I wonder where they will call, everywhere is the personnel shortage?

- "New" not in the sense that they came from the moon. We have personnel reserves. Someone, maybe, not in the same position, worked in the government of the republic. Someone was undeservedly, by virtue of subjective reasons, not assigned or moved to the "role of the second plan." And, of course, the fact that a person from outside the republic is appointed to the post of chairman of the government of Yakutia - Vladimir Solodov, who previously worked as deputy presidential envoy in the Far Eastern Federal District - is also now raising a lot of questions, but this is my decision.

I think this will help us to more actively cooperate within the framework of the general accelerated development of the Far East with our federal colleagues, participate in federal programs, and implement reforms more actively. This requires a very high level of managerial competencies. Vladimir Solodov for three years served as deputy plenipotentiary. He is well aware of the socio-economic situation in all the subjects of the Far East, understands how this should continue to work, is guided by the approaches of federal ministries. We need such a person, and I am sure that here he will fully reveal his talent. We have known him for a long time, since 2012 year, often communicated, and this was not a spontaneous decision. 

- Do you get each member of the team to determine the specific, as it is fashionable now to say, KPI?

"I'm sure it is." We already talked with the newly appointed governors of the government, and we discussed it with Vladimir Solodov many times. The approach will be the same - every minister, every deputy chairman will have performance indicators. It's another matter that they were previously determined for every official in the government, but I saw these tables - it was fitting the goals to the total number of meetings, events, and so on. 

"This is a common bureaucratic" disease, "you understand. 

- Of course, it can be seen: the document circulation in the government of Yakutia has grown many times in recent years, but often due to the fact that one paper circulates around the ministries. This we will not have. 


- You talked about the need to overcome the imbalance of the republic's budget. Why did it happen? 

- The deficit that has formed in the budgets of many constituent entities of the Russian Federation is due to the fact that in recent years the salary of state employees has risen significantly - as part of the fulfillment of the requirements of the "May decrees". This requires a lot of money: last year, it took us about 70 billion rubles for a salary, this will take 82 billion rubles. Increase payments by 12 billion rubles. in an environment where the economy is not growing very much, it is not so easy.

But we are coping with the task of paying state employees, and the imbalance of the budget was due to what I, as a financier, call "unaccounted expenses". There are in the budget of Yakutia those expenses that we must necessarily pay - for "northern deliveries", for subsidizing utilities, since in the north the communal sphere is heavily subsidized, and so on. And it turned out that in the republic's budget a significant part of such expenditures was not taken into account. 

"How could this happen?" 

- This is a big question for those people who made the decision to approve the budget. 

- In this regard, you will change the system of budget planning?

- It's not about changing the system. Budget planning simply needs to be done correctly. If you do not have money in your pocket, but there are expenses that must be fulfilled - first they should be in priority, and then - everything else. Unfortunately, the government and parliament went on the illusion that we will have some additional serious incomes, and the costs can be closed at their expense. But this did not happen - there was no more money and, judging by everything, maybe the revenue part will be even smaller than planned. 

- How much is this "cash gap" and how to close it? 

- Not included was the cost of 15 billion rubles. We have roughly broken this "deficit" into three equal parts. We cover one part by optimizing expenses. It is needed, and it must be carried out right now. Of course, this year we still will not feel its big consequences, but in the next year it will give a serious budget saving. The second is, of course, we will work with the Ministry of Finance of Russia, there are certain mechanisms that will help to get some of the missing funds. But everything will depend on the quality of the proposals we prepared. And the third - we will be forced to temporarily allocate part of the funds that will be received from the sale of the block of shares in ALROSA-Nyurba to pay off the deficit. Due to this source, a part of the investment program for the construction of new facilities will be financed. When the situation becomes better, we will reimburse these funds. 


- In recent years, many "development institutions" have been created in Yakutia. Can you assess the effectiveness of the result?

- In terms of the number of "development institutions" created, Yakutia turned out to be "ahead of the rest of the world", and this led to the fact that responsibility is blurred. Several corporations, a number of financial institutions, an investment development agency, the Ministry of Investment Development and Entrepreneurs are responsible for the investments, a huge number of subsidiaries have emerged - as a result, the efficiency of the system, in my opinion, has only dropped.

I believe that the current system is ineffective. Now we will build a new and simple system: "The Corporation for the Development of Yakutia" will be the main development institution directly subordinate to the head of the republic. The subordinated enterprises will be privatized, so that they will be engaged in private capital. At the charter level, I plan to prohibit corporations from engaging in raw material projects themselves, - big business will come to them. Trying to develop the deposits themselves - why? 

- What then should we focus on?  

- For the development of a non-resource economy, innovative projects, the IT industry. Here we have good groundwork that will help build an innovative economy. And it will then provide not only a significant part of the increase in the gross product, but also seriously affect employment. Now all the big companies involved in raw materials projects are optimizing their states. A non-resource economy is capable of absorbing and fully utilizing all of the released human capital. This is the development of small and medium-sized businesses - it is necessary to remove restrictions, adjust the regulatory framework. The main thing is not to interfere with the trade business. Innovative enterprises need venture capital and government support measures. 

- Nevertheless, large commodity companies are still the main sources of income to the budget. What are the projections for the development of key sectors of the economy in the coming years?

- Yakutia has always had, is and will have a good relationship with AK ALROSA. We do not plan to reduce our share in the company's capital, and the dividend policy suits us - it allows us to receive sufficient funds for the republic and districts. We support the development strategy of ALROSA. In the oil and gas sector, we are also pleased with the way the cooperation is going, how the projects of Surgutneftegaz and Gazprom are developing: Talakan has reached the declared volumes, and we hope that the Power of Siberia will work next year. This will turn Yakutia into one of the country's largest gas production centers. I am glad that the upward trend in coal prices stabilized on the world market, the situation is quite positive, which makes the projects of Mechel and Kolmara in the south of Yakutia very promising. Gold mining in Yakutia in recent years has also been structured, large and understandable players have appeared, new ones have come.

- The situation with the "Sum" group somehow affected the economy of the republic, does YATEK work normally?

- For us, in the crisis situation in which YaTEK turned out, it is important that gas and gas condensate come to consumers in Yakutia. According to the financial and economic state of the enterprise, of course, there are a lot of issues related to internal settlements within the Sum group. There are off-balance sheet liabilities with companies that have, including offshore jurisdictions, which are in excess of the size of the assets of YATEC. Just take and bankrupt the company can not, although its net debts are comparable to assets. In any case, the process should be closely monitored by the state, since interrupting the operation of YATEC means "playing with fire" in an area with extreme natural and climatic winter conditions. The worst thing is that as a result of incomprehensible financial operations, production will stop. 

- Do you have any concerns that, in connection with the need to fulfill the objectives of the new "May decree," will the center redistribute revenues from major companies in favor of the federation rather than the subjects?

- If the Ministry of Finance of Russia takes, for example, the redistribution of the severance tax, part of which is credited to the republic's budget for diamonds, the center will nevertheless have to compensate for the missing funds. Order 40-50 billion rubles. Yakutia annually receives federal subsidies: there was a shortage of funds and there is. So it is not advisable to transfer money from your pocket to your pocket. In general, we hope that the mobilization of funds for the "May decree" will occur due to the tax adjustment of those funds that were already administered by the federal budget, including through the increase of VAT. And the price of oil is still quite optimistic. So, as we hope, there will be funds, the funds of which will be enough to implement new tasks. 


- The most important for Yakutia breakthrough project is the construction of a bridge across the Lena. In recent years, almost no one has heard of him. Will you "fight" for him?

- We will be facing the leadership of the country to raise the issue of the project, of course. But for this you need to seriously prepare - just come and say in federal structures that we need a bridge, will not pass. The bridge was in the transport strategy of the country, but the decision on it was impeded by protracted discussions: to build an aboveground or underground passage, road or combined with a railway, and time was spent on working out all these options.

Now in a number of federal structures the approach is the following: there is no transport load in this direction, so there is no need to build a bridge. We believe that the question should be looked at more broadly: now the east and west of Russia are connected only by road and railways of the BAM-Transsib, and these transport arteries are located in a rather narrow corridor - near the southern borders of Russia. North of the highways connecting the two parts of the country, no, and interrupts the message just the river Lena. Is it dangerous. I'm not talking about the fact that Yakutsk and its environs, where about 400 thousand people live, because of the lack of a bridge across Lena six months in general remain without any permanent transport communication with the rest of the country, except for air. 

- At one time, the funds reserved for the project went to the construction of the Crimean bridge. Are not you afraid that again someone will "intercept" this money, for example, a bridge to Sakhalin?

- On the Sakhalin project there are no such developments as on our bridge, this is still a long-term project. The bridge across the Lena has already been worked out very deeply: its type has been justified, there are potential investors ready to invest in construction, including foreign ones. There are competencies in the country for the construction of such large structures. In general, somehow everything is going so that it is time to build a bridge across the Lena. Of course, we still have to further substantiate the project from the point of view of economics and geopolitics, transport policy of Russia. The bridge fits into the development strategy of the Far East. Now is the time to collect the stones that we have scattered and to build the bridge. 
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