20 september 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Voronezh Region Governor Alexei Gordeyev

The meeting focused on social issues, such as wage increases in education, the situation on the labour market and the provision of healthcare services, in particular in rural areas. The prime minister instructed the governor to ensure that the region’s social agencies take good care of senior citizens in need of assistance.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: How is the situation in the region?

Alexei Gordeyev: It is normal, the regional economy is developing.

Vladimir Putin: Have you raised teachers’ salaries?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, we have.

Vladimir Putin: By how much?

Alexei Gordeyev: Like we agreed, by 30%. Acting in accordance with your instructions, we are now considering raising salaries at pre-school childcare institutions on October 1. We are looking for reserves to level off the salaries at publically funded childcare institutions so that their staff will receive a decent salary.

Vladimir Putin: Is this salary average for the regional economy?

Alexei Gordeyev: It is, almost. We will in fact reach the region’s average salary in the second quarter of 2012.

Vladimir Putin: Well, this is acceptable. Does this decision take into account our plans to raise the average salary in the second quarter?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, certainly. In other words, we are good on development. I’d like to show you something (shows a chart): our investment component is 120%.

Vladimir Putin: This is good.

Alexei Gordeyev: By the way, you are now discussing the performance results of the leading regions in terms of development. You have put Voronezh on the list of the 20 most developed regions in Russia and have allocated us a 262-million-rouble grant. Dmitry Kozak has visited us for the opening of the city festival celebrating 425 years since its founding. Thank you for this. He chaired the [celebration] committee. We prepared for that day thoroughly, with allocations from the federal and municipal budgets almost reaching 10 billion roubles. We have completed nearly all unfinished construction projects and have done a lot for city improvement. Our goal is to do this not just in time for celebrations, but to keep up the pace also next year. Thank you for your help.

As for the labour market, we have almost reached the pre-crisis level.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, it was 1.4 then and it is 1.5 now. 

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, the situation is improving.

As for wages, we are fully in control of wage arrears. We are working individually with the trade unions and the prosecutor’s offices. Actually, we have only one facility, an aluminium plant, where the bankruptcy procedure was initiated before the crisis. It has wage arrears. We have decided to sell its property to settle them.

And now for the budget: as you can see (shows a chart), the earned incomes in the region have been growing in 2010-2011. We are not living on subsidies, but trying to develop businesses even though we also rely on federal assistance.

Vladimir Putin: What is the situation in healthcare?

Alexei Gordeyev: We received very good incentive, which you can describe as a kick, at a meeting in Smolensk, which has also played its part in our region.

Vladimir Putin: It was not a kick but an impetus.

Alexei Gordeyev: We needed that jolt, which shook everyone up. Of course, we have visited many facilities. It is customary to take time before doing anything. Well, we have now held nearly all tenders and signed contracts, so we are confident… 

Vladimir Putin: Mr Gordeyev, don’t forget about rural areas, where improvements must be made at village health centres, interregional hospitals and other rural healthcare facilities.

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, certainly. We have launched a project for senior citizens –a rural old people’s home that fully meets modern standards. According to the federal ministry’s data, this is the first such home opened in Russia over the past 20 years. We will open a second such home in October.

Vladimir Putin: I have recently met with your colleagues who have made it through the primaries. Some of them pointed to the plight of senior citizens, especially people without a family. You should instruct your social services to take care of such people. We must help them. 

Alexei Gordeyev: We have made a proposal – old people’s homes in each rural district should also offer social services to all old people living in the district. They should have the necessary databank, so that social and healthcare personnel …

Vladimir Putin: Excellent. What is the situation in your construction sector? How are you dealing with the housing problem?

Alexei Gordeyev: In principle, we will fulfil our plans this year. We will commission about 1 million square metres of housing.

Vladimir Putin: Is this more or less than last year?

Alexei Gordeyev: More, although we did not reduce housing construction even during the crisis. We received considerable support under the programmes for building housing for servicemen. Voronezh is very popular.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, Voronezh is a good city to live in. You have a good climate and a good city.

Alexei Gordeyev: We should thank Sberbank and VTB24, which proposed flexible [lending] schemes. I have looked at our mortgage data, which show a growth of 150%-200% compared to last year. The reduced interest rates have played a role. We are now considering ways to rebuild the part of our housing stock that was built by prisoners of war after WWII. We have whole streets of such houses.

Vladimir Putin: They have probably become dilapidated. They have walls filled with rubble, right?

Alexei Gordeyev: We must find a good construction company.

Vladimir Putin: And I’m sure these houses are located in the city centre.

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes, a whole street of them. We must build modern houses in their place. By doing this, we will resolve the problem of resettling people to comfortable housing and also improve the city’s appearance.

Vladimir Putin: Will housing construction grow this year?

Alexei Gordeyev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Good.