29 april 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Penza Region Governor Vasily Bochkaryov

The topic of the meeting was the region's economic performance in the first quarter, primarily in agriculture. Special attention was paid to social issues, in particular to the regional healthcare modernisation programme. Vladimir Putin also emphasised the need to raise teachers' salaries to the level of the average salary for the region.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: What are your results for the first quarter?

Vasily Bochkaryov: In the first quarter we had an 11% increase on the previous quarter. In 2010, we demonstrated above-average results for the Russian economy. This year the region's economy and the construction industry grew 16% each – all this goes to show that we are doing increasingly well. There was no slump in the construction industry for three consecutive years and we had a little year-on-year growth, even in the year when the crisis was at its worst. We hope to gain momentum in agriculture after last year's drought. Farms say that the sowing season this year looks to be successful. We are on track to expand the sowing area by 10% compared with  last year.

Vladimir Putin: When did you start doing this?

Vasily Bochkaryov: This week as soon as the weather was favourable for us…

Vladimir Putin:  You are two weeks behind schedule, aren't you? 

Vasily Bochkaryov: Two or two and a half weeks. This is not a problem as I see it. We are expanding potato crops because the price of potatoes, as you know, practically tripled last year over 2009. In addition, we are enlisting the help of guest workers in growing vegetables because we do not have enough hands of our own. We plan to boost the production of carrots, cabbage and sugar beets not only for our own needs but also, possibly, to supply them to other regions. We are targeting Moscow, of course, where the demand is high.

The unemployment rate in the region is 1.3%.

Vladimir Putin: Meaning it is lower than the average unemployment rate for the country?

Vasily Bochkaryov: Yes, it is. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. But that does not mean that we are not addressing this issue. We keep encouraging people to join forces and set up cooperatives to produce vegetables and potatoes. We use the regional budget to help them with resources. 

We have adopted a very significant programme for the production of vegetables and potatoes – I think that it is without parallel in the country. We give hefty subsidies to farmers to purchase equipment and irrigation machinery, fuel and lubricants, pay for the electricity used for irrigation – this is this year's initiative – subsidies on mineral fertilisers and 80% of seeds.  That is, we use the regional budget to provide incentives for cooperatives to get involved in the production of vegetables because I see it as our biggest problem today. As you know, prices also increased noticeably last year, including the prices of vegetables and potatoes. 

Vladimir Putin: Did you manage to have your healthcare modernisation programme approved?

Vasily Bochkaryov: Yes, we did. The federal budget will allocate from 3.5 to 3.55 billion roubles and 1.2 billion plus 520 million from the territorial insurance fund. 

Vladimir Putin: A decent amount.

Vasily Bochkaryov: Yes, we have already received part of these funds and we are working. Let me thank you – we started increasing the salaries of the medical staff at outpatient clinics. We have channeled some regional funds into hospitals. For some medical specialists that are in great demand we introduced a new payment scheme. On top of their salaries, every month we pay an additional 10,000 roubles to every doctor in 16 most in-demand professions. At the first stage, we supported general practitioners, now we start supporting outpatient clinics.   

Vladimir Putin: How many facilities are included in your healthcare modernisation programme?

Vasily Bochkaryov: We have more than 60 facilities.

Vladimir Putin:  An impressive number. Are they located in Penza alone?

Vasily Bochkaryov: No. Rural and district hospitals in 27 districts are all included on the list. The regional centre is also covered by the programme. Besides, we are tackling the issue of tuberculosis, because this is a problem in the region.

Vladimir Putin: Well, and now about teachers' salaries. What was the average salary in the regional economy in the first quarter?

Vasily Bochkaryov: It was 10,700 roubles and we plan…

Vladimir Putin: No, I mean, the average salary for the region?

Vasily Bochkaryov: It was 14,226.

Vladimir Putin: The average salary for the region was 14,226 roubles in the first quarter, and a teacher's salary is 10,000?

Vasily Bochkaryov: It is 10,700.

Vladimir Putin: Well, 10,700. This means your task is to bring it to 14,000 roubles. Is this so?

Vasily Bochkaryov: Yes, we'll have a meeting on May 4 and we won't wait for 2012 as you mentioned in your report.  We want to raise the teachers’ salaries to the level of the average salary for the regional economy beginning on September 1 of this year.

Vladimir Putin: Very good.