2 march 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Tambov Region Governor Oleg Betin

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Governor Betin began by sharing their impressions of the current conference of the Russian Association of Farm Holdings and Agricultural Cooperatives. Mr Betin then told Mr Putin about the regional government’s latest efforts in agriculture, housing, and other sectors.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Oleg Betin: Thanks for taking the time to come by, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: We’ve had an interesting and meaningful discussion, and quite informal, too.

Oleg Betin: It’s also historic. Tomorrow, March 3rd, marks exactly 150 years since serfdom was abolished in Russia, giving rise to peasant farming.

We had a hard time last year and we harvested only 30% of cereal crops, as did neighbouring regions. You came round last year and saw for yourself, didn’t you? But now we’ve drafted a programme…

Vladimir Putin: And the money we provided to support your farmers, did it find its way to them, Mr Betin?

Oleg Betin: Sure it did. We’ve delivered a full report on all those farming allocations.

Vladimir Putin: Okay then.

Oleg Betin: We also added some money from the regional coffers. For instance, we allocated 300 million roubles to deal with the effects of last year’s drought. All our households that keep cows received 1,000 roubles per capita.

All the funds reached their destination. The biggest challenge was to provide detailed enough auditing to make sure the money did not fall into the wrong hands and was not misused. Some problems may have arisen in areas where there were no accurate rolls, whereas with legal entities, there were no problems whatsoever. The registry did not fail us.

 Now the region has come out with a programme on the development of agro-industrial sector. More than 50 projects have been launched simultaneously. Here is a pre-election map of the United Russia party; a regional parliamentary vote is coming up and we’d like to position our region as a hub (showing documents)...

Vladimir Putin: The important thing is not to let this remain a mere election rhetoric, but to translate it into reality.

Oleg Betin: Let me cite some of the Belgorod Region’s figures in this regard: 98 billion roubles over a period of six years – that’s what their schedule is like. In total, 16.4 billion in average annual incomes.

Our programme calls for 30 billion in investments this year. Last year, we suffered from drought and therefore failed to keep up with our crediting schedule.

This year, we’ve begun building a large poultry farm, with a production capacity of 95,000 tons, or more than 10 billion roubles. And we’ve also launched a large-scale pig farm project, and are now building infrastructure facilities to provide it with electricity.

For the poultry farm, we’ll need 1.3 billion roubles in government allocations so that we can build the necessary infrastructure for natural gas, electricity, and roads (350 million roubles for roads alone). And it’s the same for other projects.

We should bring meat production to 400,000 tons, which is 4 times the current figure. Our long-term target is 600,000 tons; if we meet it, our region will become one of Russia’s top three.

Vladimir Putin: By the year 2016?

Oleg Betin:  Yes.

That’s the main problems we’re facing in large-scale farming.

As for small farms, they are picking up. Until recently, they’ve struggled to recoup costs. But now we provide subsidies to cover 70% of their expenses. For instance, a farm worth 4.7 billion roubles, for 24 head of cattle, gets as much as 3.3. million in budget allocations. We see such assistance as part of our social rather than economic policies.

Vladimir Putin: How have you closed the first quarter?

Oleg Betin:  We’ve met all our first-quarter targets. Our industrial production has grown by 9.8%. That’s good news. We managed to maintain our output and growth rate in previous years.

Also, we’ve been able to keep housing construction from declining. In Tambov, we turned out a metre of new residential space per capita. We’ve been going at this pace for three years now. The region’s average is 0.53 -- a bit lower than the nation’s. This arises from the fact that the population’s purchasing power is still quite low and not all the programmes have reached the countryside yet.

Our programme on housing for WWII veterans is of great help. Since we launched it last year, 1,600 veterans have been provided with housing. There are 600 more applicants on the waiting list, and we need an additional 0.5 billion to fund the construction of housing for them. But I hope that decisions to be made at the federal level will help us manage and that eventually all those in need will be provided with decent housing.

To our veterans we offer a choice between farmsteads and apartments, as well as between new and used housing.