21 march 2012

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a videoconference on progress on the federal targeted programme to improve the reliability of residential buildings and other important facilities in seismically active regions in 2009-2014

Vladimir Putin

At a videoconference on progress on the federal targeted programme to improve the reliability of residential buildings and other important facilities in seismically active regions in 2009-2014

“This is an important issue for Russia, and a serious problem that should always be at the centre of our attention.”

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues,

I would like to return to the issues that we recently discussed in Tyva, in February in fact, when we addressed earthquake relief issues. I would like to remind you that 25% of Russia’s territory is a high risk zone due to its seismic activity – Siberia as well as several regions in the Far East and in the south of Russia – in all, 27 regions including 550 cities and towns which are home to about 2 million people. This is an important issue for Russia, and a serious problem that should always be at the centre of our attention.

We agreed then that an interregional monitoring and emergency response centre needs to be set up in the Altai-Sayan Highland. It will rely on the operation of the modern seismic stations in the republics of Tyva, Khakassia and Altai. We need to complete, as soon as possible, the urgent warning system in all the high-risk areas in Russia.

And of course, the buildings in such areas should meet higher reliability standards, and show better construction quality. This primarily concerns residential buildings and other essential facilities. We need to take stock of the existing buildings and improve them, because unfortunately, many of them do not meet modern seismic stability standards. Some of them are, in fact, so dilapidated that they pose a danger to people’s lives and health. This is a big problem, and it requires joint efforts of the federal government, regions, and local governments. As you know, in 2009 we started a federal programme to improve the reliability of residential buildings and other important facilities in seismically active regions. This programme was planned for five years, until 2014. We agreed in Tyva to allocate an additional 400 million roubles to that republic for its most urgent needs. Overall, we have allocated 134.8 billion roubles to finance this programme, of which 11.3 billion roubles will be provided by the federal government.

Much of the work has been done in Kamchatka, the Sakhalin and Amur Regions, This year, more efforts will have to be made in all of the 27 regions involved n this programme. The total federal financing of this programme will reach nearly 3 billion roubles (2.8 billion to be precise), while another 2 billion roubles of government money will be allocated to the republics of Tyva, Khakassia and Altai, which have suffered a series of earthquakes in the past few months.

I would like to ask these regions’ governments to promptly draft the required project specifications and estimates for each structure that needs to be repaired and reinforced, so that they could begin working without delays or hitches.

Today we will look over the progress of the programme in specific regions, what problems there are, especially with financing. There is something else, colleagues. There is a lot of work to do: we will have to speed up the repairs and increase the number of structures that require reinforcement. I know about the recent proposals to extend this programme until 2018. Let’s discus this today too.

I would like now to give the floor to Mr Basargin, the Minister of Regional Development, and then we will hear from our colleagues who have joined us from their respective regions. Please, Mr Basargin.

Viktor Basargin: Thank you Mr Putin.

Mr Putin, colleagues,

In 2008, as we were drafting this programme for 27 regions, experts who examined the risk zones estimated the number of structures that need reinforcement at over 20,000. In 2009, we adopted the programme, which was aimed at two main goals: the first goal was the reinforcement of structures proper, and the second goal was building new earthquake-proof structures. Events have confirmed that you were right to focus on the three most affected areas, the Kamchatka Territory, the Sakhalin and the Amur regions to address the most pressing problems there. I must say that we have largely seen good results. In Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky (the Kamchatka Territory), 17 new earthquake-proof buildings were commissioned, with a total area of 50 square metres, and 46 buildings with a total area of 148 square metres plus one school have been reinforced.

This has solved the problem for about eight thousand people, and following your instruction we started solving the most urgent issue of relocating people from hostels.  We can say that as of today residents of five hostels have been resettled. We shall continue that programme together with the constituent entity of the Russian Federation. Moreover, work on reinforcing six kindergartens and two outpatient clinics in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is nearing completion. The city’s appearance has improved due to the use of modern materials when installing earthquake-proof facades, as well as thermal insulation.

In the Sakhalin Region, 51 residential buildings with an area of 72,000 square metres have been commissioned, and two schools in the villages of Uglezavodsk and Mgachi, two hospitals in the towns of Nevelsk and Okha and a library in the town of Aleksandrovsk have been reinforced. This has solved the problem of resettling over five thousand people from dangerous housing.  

In the Amur Region, financial resources have been focused on housing construction in the town of Tynda, namely, earthquake-proof housing with a total area of 95,000 square metres including the comprehensive development of the Tayozhny community, which is over 90,000 square meters.

Despite the lack of funds, we have prepared earthquake protection programmes for 20 regions. Moreover, the use of modern information technologies has been expanded, and the unified information system “Earthquake Safety in Russia” is being filled. There were some problems, but I should say they have been largely solved by now. Thus, the government of the Kamchatka Territory has streamlined the financing of a number of facilities where we could not agree on resettling the owners of residential housing. We agreed that we would give back some funds in the amount of 202 million roubles to the federal budget, then we shall resume that financing and allocate funds to other facilities. We have already reached a preliminary agreement with the Ministry of Economic Development and with the Finance Ministry, and we have sent corrections to be made in the state budget.  Now we are dealing with regions’ co-financing obligations. It was lagging behind but we have also agreed with the regions that it will be mended.

Our law-enforcement agencies are also participating in the programme – the Emergencies Ministry, the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry. Throughout the three years of the duration of the programme about 1 billion roubles were allocated for earthquake protection for the buildings of those federal agencies: the work has also been completed in full.

Now we are facing an issue of expanding the programme to other regions, some of the aspects are already clear. It involves earthquake protection of residential housing and social infrastructure in Tynda. Over 38,000 square metres of earthquake-proof housing is to be commissioned in 2012, which will allow for the resettling of practically two thousand people. The programme envisages the allocation of 1.1 billion roubles for that in 2012.

Due to the December earthquake in some of our regions (the republics of Tyva, Khakassia and Altai) we conducted a study of those regions and in accordance with your instruction concluded that the urgent measures would require 2.2 billion roubles in Tyva, 634 million roubles in Khakassia and about 200 million roubles in the Altai Republic.

At a meeting in Abakan we jointly with the regions worked out regions’ applications and applied to the Finance Ministry for an additional 2 billion roubles in 2012.  These funds will allow for the resettlement of 75,000 square metres of housing that can not be made earthquake-safe in Tyva; for building and making earthquake-proof housing, healthcare and educational facilities in Khakassia, and schools and infrastructure facilities in the Altai Republic. For reference, it would cost 1.4 billion roubles for Tyva, 0.4 billion for Khakassia and 200 million roubles for Altai.

Moreover, we believe, and you also spoke about it, Mr Putin, it is time to restore the initial funding of the programmes with indexation, since it was reduced by 60% due to the streamlining of the 2009-13 federal budget – that is more than the other programmes. That is, we only have 30.7 billion roubles left on the programme out of the initial 72 billion roubles, and out of 48 billion in federal funds only 17.3 billion were left.

That is why we would ask you to restore the financing since 2013 and to extend the programme until 2018. Calculations show that we need around 40 billion roubles. We, actually, counted till 2016. If we squeeze the volumes (the funding there is 38 billion roubles), the annual load will increase. If the programme is extended until 2040, the annual financing will amount to 6.5 billion roubles with subsidies to the regions of 5.1 billion until 2018. And if we speak about the programme to 2016, the annual funding will amount to 9.5 billion roubles with subsidies to the regions amounting to 7.3 billion. We have agreed that proposal with the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Economic Development.

If this decision is made, we can start active work in the regions with the highest earthquake index. Mr Putin, we also have to decide on whether to work with all the 27 regions or to focus on the highest risk areas. We have an earthquake safety index for all the 27 regions, and funds can be concentrated on the most dangerous areas. There are about 15 of them.

Vladimri Putin: We should start where the hazard is highest, of course.

Viktor Basargin: Then we are going to take this approach. Thus, in our view, the results will be most efficient if the programme is continued with funding focused on the most problematic regions of the Russian Federation – additional allocation of 2 billion roubles in 2012 for urgent measures in the republics of Tyva, Khakassia and Altai and the restoration of the initial funding of the programme with indexation and its extension until 2018. I would ask you to support that proposal. Thank you for your time.

Vladimri Putin: Thank you.

* * *

Vladimir Putin’s comments on Kamchatka Territory Governor Vladimir Ilyukhin’s report

Vladimir Putin: When will the urban development plan for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky be ready?

Vladimir Ilyukhin: In May.

Vladimir Putin: Good. I expect you in my office in May.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: No matter where I will be at the time – here or elsewhere – you should show me the plan.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: I will.

Vladimir Putin: Let us look at it together with the colleagues and the public, together with those living in Kamchatka: the people must know what you are planning.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: Very well.

Vladimir Putin: We will decide on funding amounts on the basis of this plan. At the same time, a great deal has been done over the past one or one and a half years, and this is a great advantage. The minister here tells me that the scale of housing construction has expanded 86 times. That’s fantastic! This goes to show that nothing at all was built in the past. This means beginning practically from scratch – 86 times. That’s great.

But let me remind you that your pending disbursements amounted to almost one billion roubles as of March 1, 2012.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: I can explain why.

Vladimir Putin: At the same time, you are asking for another one billion roubles in allocations. Besides, you have failed to meet the commitment to attract 91.7 million roubles to the Territory’s budget and another 33.3 million roubles in extra-budgetary funds.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: The pending disbursements date back to 2009-2010; they are mostly carry-overs earmarked for seismic reinforcement of 10 buildings, where, among others, some private organisations are based. We’ve managed to come to an agreement with several of them. But I told the Ministry of Regional Development last July that it would be better to invest this money in new construction because it is unwise to spend 30 to 50 million roubles for seismic reinforcement of each 30- to 40-years-old house. This is why these funds will be carried over…

Vladimir Putin: Good, no one has any objections. I, for example, think that this is possibly the right thing to do. But you should submit your proposals and utilise this money.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: We will utilise it later this year, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: It’s easy to spend money. The problem is how to spend it efficiently. So, Mr Ilyukhin, let us see your urban development plan and after that we will decide on additional allocations.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: Very well.

Vladimir Putin: And let me have your proposals on the rational utilisation of the pending disbursements.

Vladimir Ilyukhin: Yes, certainly.

Vladimir Putin: Agreed?

Vladimir Ilyukhin: Agreed. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you too.


* * *

Vladimir Putin’s concluding remarks:

So, this is how we will do it: By the end of this month the Ministry of Regional Development will submit the necessary documents. At that time I ask Mr Kozak to invite everyone once again. I ask relevant ministries and agencies to send representatives with the right to adopt final decisions to this meeting. This will be one meeting chaired by Mr Kozak. At the final stage – say, on April 10 – there will be one more meeting, where you will draw the bottom line. After that I expect everyone present here to report to me.

Dmitry Kozak: Good. We will, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Thanks to everyone.