16 march 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Voronezh Region Governor Alexei Gordeyev

Putin and Gordeyev focused on the region’s investment projects – in particular, the establishment of four industrial parks. They also discussed agriculture and pressing social issues.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Gordeyev, you are successfully building four

effective industrial parks in your region. I say “effective” because there is every reason to believe in this outcome. The investment is solid, and the areas of production are in high demand: mechanical engineering, metallurgy, power engineering, construction materials, and the agro-industrial sector. The Maslovsky Park is currently in the most advanced stages of its development, is it not?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Could you please tell me about your progress on this project?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, I’ve had slides prepared. Here, you can look at them. The first one shows our economic progress. As you can see, the main indicator is investment. In the pre-crisis year of 2008, investment grew by 10%. In general, all indicators are positive and even better than they were in 2008, which we considered a successful year. A severe drought was the only problem over the past year, but we still managed to carry out our plans in livestock breeding and are moving ahead.

Investment is also a major economic indicator for [the state of] technology parks. Siemens launched a major project in the Maslovsky Park this year. It will build the first plant [in the region] to produce industrial transformers. The investment is 1.5 billion roubles. The plant will provide 350 jobs and should be built by the end of this year. Armaks, a big company from St Petersburg, has invested 3.2 billion roubles into the construction of a plant for manufacturing building materials. It will create 500 jobs. I won’t mention the agro-industrial sector. We primarily produce dairy and meat, and we have a number of major projects in this area.

Vladimir Putin: Pig breeding is doing well…

Alexei Gordeyev: That’s true. We have done particularly well on pork production, but keep it a secret for the time being. I’d like you to visit us this summer. Our investors helped us bring in a major pedigree stock of Aberdeen-Angus from the United States – 1,500 head.  The stock has excellent genes and is one of the world’s best. Now we have it here in our region.

Vladimir Putin: You kept it a secret! Now that you’ve told me about it, it won't be a secret for long…

Alexei Gordeyev: Well, now we can talk about it. But I’d like to say a few words about unemployment. All governors have reported that the federal and regional programmes have achieved their intended effect. The unemployment level has decreased considerably. We are even slightly below the national average in this respect. 

Vladimir Putin: You reached your peak [unemployment] two years ago, didn’t you?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, when the crisis was at its worst. That was in April, and the unemployment rate reached almost 3%...

Vladimir Putin: That was in 2009, was it not?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes. At the time, we also reached a peak level of backdated wages – in April of 2009, we owed 180 million roubles. The relevant figure for February of the past year was 105 million roubles, and now we have reduced it to 26.5 million roubles. The red colour indicates crisis phenomena, and the blue colour indicates historical bankruptcies, so to speak, that took place five and seven years ago. I’d like to note the important role of the Prosecutor’s Office in this context. We worked together with them, conducted active negotiations with owners, and managed to bring down our back payments. Our budget is also doing better…

Vladimir Putin: It has grown considerably.

Alexei Gordeyev: Indeed. Our projections for this year are normal, although we are spending almost 60% on social services. But this is the goal for all the regions.

Now I’d like to say a few words about the change in our region’s rating over the past two years. In 2007, we were in 80th place and moved up to 48th place in 2009 (the results for 2010 have not yet been tabulated). Investment appeal is a very important factor. The Expert Agency rated us third in this respect.

I’d like to thank you for signing a resolution on establishing an organising committee to prepare for the celebrations of the 425th anniversary of Voronezh. Dmitry Kozak is heading this committee and has already visited us. We are preparing for this event. For us, it is not just an anniversary but an occasion to make the city more comfortable and inviting. We have repaired buildings and streets… We have planned everything stage by stage in this regard.

Vladimir Putin: Okay. Mr Gordeyev, a holiday is a good thing, but let’s say a few words about potential problems. Perhaps they are not disastrous, but they are still bothering people. Utility tariffs are one of the worst of these headaches. What is Voronezh doing in this regard?

Alexei Gordeyev: Mr Putin, we have complied with your instructions not to increase these tariffs by more than 15%. We have not exceeded this figure anywhere. The region’s government was firm on this issue.

Vladimir Putin: Does that apply to the region or to the city?

Alexei Gordeyev: It applies everywhere – both in the city and the districts…

Vladimir Putin: No more than 15%?

Alexei Gordeyev: No more than 15%. This is our adamant position.

Vladimir Putin: In other words, you are responsible for this, aren’t you?

Alexei Gordeyev: Sure, I oversee everything, and I am responsible for this.

Vladimir Putin: Okay. As you know, in spring you may have some water logging in five districts in your region. What are you doing about it? Do you coordinate efforts with your colleagues in order to minimise any possible negative consequences?

Alexei Gordeyev: We’ve made all the required decisions and taken action already. We are cooperating with the Emergency Ministry’s main department. We also have our own commission on emergencies. In other words, we have all the regulations in place and have given the assignments to the relevant bodies, including those at the municipal level. We are monitoring these developments. Everything is fine for the time being. Experts are optimistic – they say that the ground has not frozen too deeply. The subsoil water level has decreased by two to six metres in the past two years, but it is possible that snow will drain into the ground and restore the subsoil water level in our region. This is very important for us.   

Vladimir Putin: Why hasn't the airport been paid on time? What’s the problem?

Alexei Gordeyev: We have remedied the situation, and everything has been paid. We have a private company there – Polyot. I spoke with its owners just yesterday. They are in charge of flights. The terminal and the entire airport are on their payroll. We are discussing the possibility of dividing the airport management and the carriers, on Mr Levitin’s recommendation.

Vladimir Putin: Who owns the airport?

Alexei Gordeyev: The airport is private property.

Vladimir Putin: The airport as such?

Alexei Gordfeyev: Yes, the airport as such. The runway belongs to the federal government.

Vladimir Putin: Got it.

Alexei Gordeyev: So now they have resolved the issue. But we are still planning to divide the management. We want some people to deal with passenger flights and others to manage the airport directly. You have given instructions…

Vladimir Putin: Just a moment. So, they have paid what they owed in wages?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, they have. And we have fulfilled the instructions that you made regarding small companies in Bryansk. We are introducing amendments into the legislation. We will reduce the tax rate from 15% to 5% for companies dealing with production. Our budget will lose about 150 million roubles as a result, but we are happy to invest this money into the development of small business.

Vladimir Putin: Eventually, this will promote the development of your region and your treasury will see returns.