30 august 2010

Russian Prime Minister holds a working meeting with Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory Ravil Geniatulin to sum up his trip to the Trans-Baikal Territory

Special attention was paid during the meeting to issue of dilapidated accommodation. Ravil Geniatulin asked Vladimir Putin to extend the federal programme on this issue to ensure the problem is resolved in full. In addition, Ravil Geniatulin said that the work on housing provision for Great Patriotic War veterans was going well across the Territory.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Geniatulin, as you know, I have traveled through most of the Trans Baikal Territory by car. I have seen the state that economy here is in and I have talked to people. There are a lot of problems.

Ravil Geniatulin: There are a lot of problems.

Vladimir Putin: How do you assess the state of the social sector and the economy? Where is the economy in terms of its emergence from the downturn? What are the problems?

Ravil Geniatulin: 2009 was a very difficult year, Mr Putin, in fact there were no losses, but no profits either. By this August we saw a surplus of 3.2%. So there is clearly a steady improvement in budget revenues. Though, of course there is still a deficit.

We are continuing the construction of ten large facilities in the healthcare sector alone (I have the photographs here and will show them to you). They include a large infectious diseases hospital with a capacity of 120 beds (which we will finish on September 1), the first large stage of psychiatric hospital, which has no equal anywhere this side of the Urals. And we are near to completion on the cardiology and burns centre. There are four facilities here. That's why our funding for the perinatal centre fell a little short. But I will rectify this situation, of course.

We are paying salaries, pensions and social benefits on time. There are no problems in this respect, and I hope this state of affairs will continue through to the end of the year.

We have experienced some problems connected with the housing and utilities sector, caused by the transfer of large volume of accommodation, social facilities (You may have seen some of them during the trip) both from the Defence Ministry and Russian Railways.

Of course, all this requires additional outlays. That's why there are some problems with maintaining the housing and utilities infrastructure for these facilities.

Nevertheless, last winter showed that these issues can be solved even in extreme temperatures.

Vladimir Putin: Is dilapidated housing a serious problem?

Ravil Geniatulin: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Can you quantify it?

Ravil Geniatulin: It's 881,000 square metres all in total. That's quite a lot.

Vladimir Putin: Nearly a million.

Ravil Geniatulin: Yes. Especially considering that our housing pool totals 21 million.

Vladimir Putin: In the previous two years, you re-housed about 1,300 families, didn't you?

Ravil Geniatulin: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: 1,300 households or individuals?

Ravil Geniatulin: We've commissioned some 34,000 square metres of new residential accommodation to replace old housing. And 1,300 is the number of tenants who have been re-housed. If that many households had been resettled, it would have been a significant achievement. This accounts for 4.2% of all dilapidated housing.

Vladimir Putin: In the region?

Ravil Geniatulin: Yes. It's a pretty good result for a two-year period. We wouldn't have been able to do it without assistance from the federal centre, though. We received some 1.2 billion roubles in federal allocations under the programme, to which we added some funds from our local coffers, with the total amount coming to 1.6 billion. Thank you very much for your generosity on this, we received an additional 405 million for this year. We are primarily investing that money in major repairs and some of it also goes towards dilapidated housing. It would be great if this programme were to be continued at the federal level. In 5 to 7 years' time, we could come a long way towards solving the problems of dilapidated and unfit housing. At least that's clear in our region.

We've already acquired all the basic expertise. We've learned to draw up all relevant documents, which was quite a challenge initially. The requirements were quite rigorous, and few municipalities were therefore willing to get involved - people just couldn't do the paperwork properly. Now that we've mastered it we're working more effectively.

I'd like to report back that we've made some headway on the second leg of the programme for housing veterans of the Great Patriotic War. Of course, we completed the first phase of it. There are a lot of eligible people in this area, more than 2,000 people, in total. Thanks to you, the other day an order was signed to allocate us 1.5 billion.

I'm convinced, Mr Putin, that housing needs to be built, not bought, as construction is a more productive way of going about it. That is why we have just launched two large-scale projects, and are planning to commission 500 flats before this year is out. These projects are for low-rise apartment blocks, two to three stories high. Such blocks can be built very fast, and don't require large sums. So if any similar programmes are developed, ones targeting orphaned children, for -example, it would make sense to include the provision that most of the residential space on offer should be met from newly built rather than existing facilities. This would give a real boost to our construction industry. Providing monetary compensation or housing from existing stock is much less productive, in my view, as the country's economy doesn't stand to benefit from it. There is no increase in housing stock volume where existing housing is re-assigned.

Many thanks. I'm sure we'll manage to fulfil this task within the timeframe you've set for us, in 2011, that is.

Vladimir Putin: For veterans, you mean?

Ravil Geniatulin: Yes, for veterans, the second phase.

Vladimir Putin: Good.