Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Governor of the Voronezh Region Vladimir Kulakov
19 november 2008
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: What is the situation in the region? What results have you reached this year?
Vladimir Kulakov: I would say that this year we have reached far better results than some media claim. The year is ending on an optimistic note. It has been one of the most successful years in my time in office.
Industrial growth will amount to 6.5-7%, which is above average in Russia. Rural areas have taken a great leap forward. We have harvested 5 million tons of grain, which is a record for the region. We have had a bumper sunflower harvest, unseen in a hundred years. Over 90% of our farms have been profitable for the third consecutive year.
Vladimir Putin: Now you need to manage these crops efficiently.
Vladimir Kulakov: We have a problem in this area, and a serious one. Our grain elevators' capacity is only 2.7 million tons. Now we are looking for customers both in this country and abroad. New pricing has been set.
Vladimir Putin: The prices are already lower abroad than in this country.
Vladimir Kulakov: We are in control of the situation. However, according to forecasts, next year is going to be very difficult.
Vladimir Putin: We need to consider steps to help farmers sell their crops so that they can pay off loans, sow winter crops and get ready for next year.
Vladimir Kulakov: There is a wide range of possible measures. First, we have accelerated the construction of cattle-breeding complexes. That requires a considerable share of grain, which is important. Second, you once proposed a very good idea, but, for some reason, it has not been translated into practice - to establish a state corporation for purchasing grain.
The problem is, we do not have the infrastructure we need. Mr Putin, we have neither contacts nor work experience. But if a state corporation were established, we could really build on it.
Vladimir Putin: We have not given up this idea yet.
Vladimir Kulakov: I hope it will be realised. Today, we have 41 investment projects in agriculture, worth 17 billion roubles in total. I am going to ask for your support on one of them. The thing is, we have started building the biggest modern meat factory, which is planned to produce 65,000 tons of meat annually. But we need infrastructure, such as incubators. We have resolved the problem with banks.
Today, the Voronezh Region has 200 investment projects worth 800 billion roubles in total. I am glad that a lot of investors are still with us; for example, Siemens has continued with its project, and Heidelberg Cement is building facilities. There is one urgent problem in this area. Your directive was absolutely right. There are 85 Sberbank branches in the Voronezh Region, but they do not make any decisions on-site. And after all, the region has already started receiving funds.
Vladimir Putin: You mean the money does not reach the branches?
Vladimir Kulakov: Exactly, that is the problem. I wish we could have more tools to influence the situation.
Vladimir Putin: We will deal with this matter.