28 november 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Governor of Yaroslavl Region Sergei Vakhrukhov

The meeting discussed social and economic situation in the Yaroslavl Region.

Transcript of the start of the meeting: 

Vladimir Putin: Let's start with the socioeconomic situation in the region.

Sergei Vakhrukhov: The socioeconomic situation in the region is stable and under control. Our life support systems are working normally. We have prepared well for winter. Central heating was switched on today. No serious accidents have taken place.

The social sphere is also functioning normally. We are fulfilling our social commitments fully. This is not easy, but this is our duty, and we will continue doing this.

Vladimir Putin: What kind of growth do you expect to see in the regional product have this year?

Sergei Vakhrukhov: I think we will see a small growth. If we reach 1.5%, this will be very good. We were making steady headway and had good growth indicators up until October, but now the situation is rather difficult. We are actively working with industrial enterprises to minimize the negative consequences but are nevertheless facing some problems. In the last quarter, we may see an eight percent decline.

Vladimir Putin: What about the banking system? Is it working?

Sergei Vakhrukhov: The banking system is working. Rates and pledges have gone up somewhat. Needless to say, it is now more difficult to receive a loan, though this is still possible. The situation is improving with time. We are trying to support the small business sector because it was facing serious problems. We are trying to refinance loans.

At the meeting of the regional government, we discussed a number of projects for refinancing loans for small businesses.

Employment is a very important issue for us, and we are actively working on it. We have prepared a special programme, and I hope that we will gradually help other companies.

Vladimir Putin: You know that starting December 1, the payment system for public sector employees will change. The payment fund for the federal public sector employees will be increased by 30%. Have you raised salaries for your regional public sector workers before?

Sergei Vakhrukhov: Yes, we raised them both last year and this year. The increase was not great, but we are slightly ahead of the national average. Salaries in our region are about 17% higher.

We wanted to increase salaries again next year, but suspended this decision for the time being. We balanced the budget and approved its final version this week. It is deficit-free. I have agreed with deputies that we will come back to this after the first quarter and will discuss public sector wages. This is important and we are fully aware of this. We will introduce a wage rate of 4,330 rubles starting January 1. We are switching to the branch payment system, and this is when salaries will be slightly increased. We \ already introduced this system this year, and starting next year, the entire budget sphere will be switched to the branch payment system.

Vladimir Putin: Is the system of mandatory medical insurance functioning?

Sergei Vakhrukhov: Yes, it is functioning. Quite recently, we made serious changes in the system in terms of personnel and distribution of resources. We have conducted a tender. I think this system should be functioning on full-scale.

We have launched a new programme of medical aid for the residents of the Yaroslavl Region and are going to streamline the system. Now, the main emphasis is put on primary medical aid and outpatient clinics. We have distributed centers of specialized medical assistance in the region that will be outfitted with high-tech equipment. At present, we are actively working on medical transport infrastructure.

Today, we are carrying out four serious programmes. First of all, the"Mother and Child" programme. In 2010, we will commission a prenatal center. It is already has a roof, and we will switch the heating system in it in the next three weeks. We will then outfit it with equipment and complete everything. This will be an excellent interregional center.

We will actively continue this programme. We will build a complex, consisting of a prenatal center and a children's clinic that we are now repairing. We are remodeling the diagnostic center, where children's health will be fully monitored. Our priority is to help cancer patients. We have been included into the federal programme for cardiological aid and traumatic surgery. These are our priorities, and we are focusing on them.

Vladimir Putin: What about kindergartens in your region?

Sergei Vakhrukhov: This is a problem. We have introduced 111 groups in schools and started developing this system. So far, we have built three kindergartens and started building another five. In all, an additional 2,600 kids have been accepted to kindergartens. We have adopted a special programme. At the government meeting yesterday, we also discussed the accessibility of pre-school education. About 9,000 children are still waiting in line.

The birth rate in the region is going up. This year, 745 babies have been born, a seven percent increase. The death rate is declining and the demographic situation is slightly improving. It goes without saying that it is very important for us to have enough pre-school establishments.

Vladimir Putin: We realize that we will further develop demographic programmes, and are bound to face new problems, like the lack of pre-school establishments.

Sergei Vakhrukhov: We are starting to use public and private partnership here. We are building a number of kindergartens in conjunction with major companies that are operating in our region. I believe this is a rather promising direction. We are looking for off-budget sources. We have built a kindergarten together with a company this year, and will build another three. I think this will help us to considerably increase the number of pre-school establishments and to minimize spending from the budget. It is rather difficult to invest from the budget now.

Vladimir Putin: That's right. Are there many hazardous dwellings?

Sergei Vakhrukov: Yes-but we have made good progress this year. Thank you for the available programmes. We are rather active in the Fund. We have received two tranches this year, for new accommodations for tenants in hazardous dwellings and thorough repairs on safer apartment houses. We are expected to cope with it all in four years, but we will try to be even quicker.

Vladimir Putin: How much have you received in the first tranche?

Sergei Vakhrukov: 745 million. A decision for another tranche was made two days ago. We will use up fund allocations very soon. The Yaroslavl millennium programme has been a great help. The total hazardous dwelling space is currently 137,000 sq m. We shall do our best to finish the programme before 2010. Meanwhile, we are profiting from the current construction market situation. Builders have certain problems. Many houses are unfinished. We have channelled housing reform fund money into auctions to buy flats for people in hazardous dwellings.

Vladimir Putin: Do you have many ready houses, or ones that will be finished soon?

Sergei Vakhrukov: Yes, quite a few. We have applied to the Regional Development Ministry and are working in tandem with it on several programmes, one of which is essential. I heard you advance a relevant initiative yesterday-to channel the ministry's part of the Investment Fund to projects approaching completion. We are still investing despite all problems, and we have two major projects. One of them concerns Series 730 diesels, which will be manufacture by an excellent new plant that can start mass production even next year. The GAZ Group has invested in construction and ordered necessary equipment. A major part of the production premises has been assembled by now, but they still need some help. I talked to Vladimir Dmitriev of Vnesheconombank about it. If the Investment Fund also contributes money, a new fine engine generation will appear next year for the Army and other clients. It would be good if the project found support.

The other of our ambitious projects concerns the Saturn R&D company, with an innovation you know quite well. It is the SaM-146 engine for the Superjet 100. It also needs support. It's a promising project for cutting-edge engines. The Saturn is working on another, nanotechnology instrument-making project. It won a contest, and should implement the project even now.

We are taking part in several international projects, as well. In particular, we are working at new road-building machine factories together with Japan's Komatsu. We want to establish a car part R&D cluster at the Noveselki industrial park. The region has sufficient industrial experience to cope.

There is another project we want to see launched, and are asking for support for it. It concerns the industrial park infrastructure. We came back from Japan a week ago after talks with eight companies that are eager to cooperate. Ready premises matter most to them in starting the partnership. The Komatsu project is on. The company is analysing the situation, and appears to be content. We are anxious to get on with the project-it offers many well-paid jobs and promises excellent commodities and, last but not least, high tax revenues. It is really important to give the park good prospects.

Vladimir Putin: That's right. I am glad you mentioned the Saturn. As far as I know, the company is being restructured with large personnel cuts. If that is really so, the company and related industries need urgent measures at the regional level to retain available jobs and create new ones with federal allocations from the Investment Fund and the Regional Development Ministry.

Sergei Vakhrukov: Yes. We expect to get new jobs in building the nanotechnology instrument-making factory. They really intend to cut many jobs, but we are helping them quite actively. If the SaM-146 is launched into mass production, and Saturn and other companies undertake its maintenance, partly at least, I think they will keep afloat. Getting on with the project is what matters most. It's a lucrative project, and it will be success, I think. With sufficient output, we will dominate the Superjet market and have no problems with employment.

As for the Russian-French project, it offers excellent products. We are making quality engines with Snecma.

Vladimir Putin: You mean the RRJ?

Sergei Vakhrukov: Yes. It uses pioneer technologies. I visit the plant often, and in fact had my first job there. They are working at a thoroughly new level. The technologies and human contacts are quite new. The personnel are enthusiastic about what is going on in the company. If the project survives, there will be no employment problems and the city will have another economic mainstay and primary taxpayer.