19 december 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Head of the Republic of Tuva Sholban Kara-ool

The meeting focused on Kyzyl-Kuragino railway construction, whose launch was attended by the prime minister, and its importance for the region’s economy. Mr Putin and Mr Kara-ool also discussed healthcare and education modernisation in the republic. The head of Tuva reported that teachers’ wages in the region were now higher than average pay in the economy.

The transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: How are you?

Sholban Kara-ool: Mr Putin, thank you very much for coming to visit us. We have severe winters here, as you know because you visit us often. Thank you for that. We feel your special attention to the republic. I am certain that the voting results reflect the feelings of people and the republic’s attitude to you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Sholban Kara-ool: But sometimes they feel outraged … I simply want to convey the people’s attitude to what we occasionally see in the media.

Vladimir Putin: That’s life.  Let us talk about business. What is the situation in the republic? What are the plans for 2012 and what are the current problems?

Sholban Kara-ool: Mr Putin, the reason for your visit has historic importance for Tuva. We are beginning to build a railway – it has been talked about …

Vladimir Putin: Since 1926.

Sholban Kara-ool: Yes, since 1926. That historic stamp is evidence of that. Collectors all over the world value Tuva stamps. Among them we have one dating from 1926 and depicting a railway line with a galloping camel in the background. People have dreamed of a railway ever since. What you did today will tap Tuva’s idle potential. We have more than 20 billion tonnes of coking coal alone of the G and GZh grades, which are the highest standard.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, their quality is high and they occur in such a way that production is easily organised.

Sholban Kara-ool: Yes, literally on the surface.

Vladimir Putin: Are they mined by open-cast method?

Sholban Kara-ool: Yes, and I do not doubt that the Republic of Tuva will make a big contribution to the economy of our big country and that this time is approaching soon. Kyzyl-Kuragino is the development axis of this land, as everyone here realises. But you may be right: these prospects have been on the horizon for four to five years now.

I would like to report the results we have achieved. To begin with the domestic regional product … In line with your decision, I have headed the republic for four years now: when I took office our domestic regional product totalled something like 19 billion roubles. Today, we have 32 billion roubles. In principle, there has been some growth but compared with other regions, the result is fairly low.

Over these three years, investment in fixed capital has doubled. I can report that our main economic indicator, the income tax for 2011, has grown by 150%. This means the Tuva economy has shown some recovery and this is seen in the industrial index. Of course, the drop our republic experienced … Many of the figures look modest, but still there has been some growth in the republic’s economy. Social statistics are good evidence of that.

At the time of my appointment the poverty level was 37%. Now it is 26%, that is to say we are still a rather poor region.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, that’s a great deal, over one quarter of the population.

Sholban Kara-ool: But you heard the investor say today that the construction of the railway, if it involves 13,000 people, will address the unemployment issue. Our peak of unemployment fell on the 2008 crisis (22%).  Today it has dropped to 16%. If we consider that this is the percentage per 100,000 economically active  population, we arrive at the figure of some 16,000 people.

Vladimir Putin: So if 8,000 to 9,000 are employed in railway construction, this will cut the figure by half.

Sholban Kara-ool: That’s right, Mr Putin. Thanks to the Russian government’s programme to ease the labour market we have been able to cut back registered unemployment this year, and this has had an impact on overall unemployment.

Vladimir Putin: What about healthcare and education?

Sholban Kara-ool: About healthcare. To be fair, it was much easier during election rallies because the republic has medical centres built in the 1950s-1960s …

Vladimir Putin: And you have not renovated them since then?

Sholban Kara-ool: No, we have not. Now we are able to invest 1.7 billion roubles in medical centres. We expected 800 million roubles per person – but thanks to the support from you and United Russia …

Vladimir Putin: 800 million roubles per person?

Sholban Kara-ool: No, this is the figure according to the healthcare modernisation programme calculated in per person terms.

Vladimir Putin: According to the programme calculated in per person terms?

Sholban Kara-ool: That’s right, per person. The planned sum was 800 million roubles, but we were able to make a good case at the Ministry. Your backing for our requests also helped.

Vladimir Putin: And you have been granted your request?

Sholban Kara-ool: We are now looking to 1.75 billion roubles.

Vladimir Putin: How many facilities are covered by the programme?

Sholban Kara-ool: The programme comprises practically all our medical centres.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Including rural areas?

Sholban Kara-ool: Yes, above all there. We have already carried out major repairs in republican Hospital No 1, an oncology centre, a specialised clinic, and so on. This also includes a TB clinic, which has been renovated as well. Plus we have some additional funding outside the programme. Our perinatal centre is one of the projects that have still not been completed: nothing has been done for ten years. Now, as part of the modernisation programme and especially thanks to the allocation of 180 million roubles outside the programme, our target is to finish it next year, because we have already received 90 million roubles.

Vladimir Putin: What about schools?

Sholban Kara-ool: About schools. First of all, teachers’ wages … I am grateful to you, Mr Putin, for your recommendation to raise their pay to the average in the economy. That is to say, teachers’ salaries were 16,500 roubles while the average was 16,300 roubles. Therefore, we did not need to increase the pay any further but we made arrangements with the Finance Ministry of the Russian Federation and have raised teachers’ wages by 14%, which is reflected in their work.

Vladimir Putin: Above the average for the economy?

Sholban Kara-ool: That’s right. Their average wage is now 19,500 roubles.

Vladimir Putin: Teachers’ salary?

Sholban Kara-ool: That’s right. A total of 19,500 roubles. In some municipalities equated in status to the Far North, they even have a wage of 21,500 roubles, which is good. Under the modernisation programme adopted as part of the New School initiative, we have been able to conduct major repairs in the schools located in the most remote areas. This year, for the first time in at least 15 years, we have built one new school within a year here in the capital, a three-story one.

Vladimir Putin: How many students does it have?

Sholban Kara-ool: We started with 200 and now have 220. This is Primary School No. 8 on the right bank, a school for 220 children. We commissioned it just recently, on the occasion of the anniversary.

Vladimir Putin: Is it a good modern school?

Sholban Kara-ool: A truly good modern school.

Vladimir Putin: Good.