Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Stavropol Territory Governor Valery Gayevsky
12 january 2009
Transcript of the start of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Let's start by looking at the situation in your territory, primarily in agriculture, because it is a leading agricultural producer, especially of grain. Were you present at the Presidium meeting today? We discussed the problems of the intervention. What is your position on the issue? But let's start from the beginning.
Valery Gayevsky: On the whole, the political and socio-economic situation in the Stavropol Territory is stable and under control. To continue the discussion at the Presidium meeting, I would like to thank you for the support you gave us in November, when we had problems with African swine fever. We have carried out all your instructions.
You gave us financial help, and, most important, raised the quota of grain purchase to the intervention fund to one million tonnes. We have now sold almost 800,000 tonnes, which is probably the highest figure in Russia. The farmers have resolved their problems and finished the year with good results. The growth of agricultural production reached 17%, and we are particularly happy about that. The number of profitable farms has increased from 90% to 93%. Owing to your support, the situation, at least in agriculture, has not been affected by the crisis, and does not cause any apprehensions.
What's more, our farmers feel much more at ease now that the price of diesel fuel has gone down to almost 14 roubles per kilo wholesale. The price of mineral fertiliser has dropped by 60%. Agricultural equipment companies are making more lucrative proposals on their produce. In other words, our farmers are now back in the saddle again. All this is owing to your timely support. It is always important. In any event, we are doing everything to keep the situation stable. Our crops are in a good shape. The majority of farmers have gone on paid holidays till March. To sum up, I would like to repeat that the situation is not critical, and does not cause any concern.
Vladimir Putin: Speaking about the cattle, what about mortality you have had? Have you solved this problem?
Valery Gayevsky: Yes, we have, although just yesterday we had one more episode. I reported to you three weeks after we last met that, regrettably, it is not possible to effectively deal with this problem in just one region. It has to be resolved in full everywhere. Such infective episodes have been taking place in the last two or three years in North Ossetia-Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Chechnya. If we try to get rid of the Colorado beetle in our territory, our efforts will lead nowhere if our neighbours do not do the same. I have made proposals on this issue to you and to Mr Zubkov, and we are hoping to resolve this problem by pooling our efforts.
Vladimir Putin: Until now, you have been able to deal with this problem successfully, and I don't doubt that you'll cope with it in the future, too. I will talk with officials at the Agricultural Ministry, and they will submit their proposals on resolving this problem. However, I meant support to individual households that sustained losses. Has it been given?
Valery Gayevsky: Needless to say, the support to them was financed from the territorial budget. We haven't received the federal funding yet. Primarily, we had to help private households because we had to destroy their cattle in the villages that have been affected. People have been paid a fair price. There are no complaints; they trust us. I think if we have such problems in the future, they will comply with all the requirements. We have already learnt how to cope with this problem, and won't have any difficulties in the future.
Vladimir Putin: What difficulties do you still have today?
Valery Gayevsky: On the whole, the results of the year are positive. Agricultural production has gone up by 17%, investment grown by 10%, and Western investment has increased by 160% over the last year.
As regards housing construction, we've finally reached the coveted one million square metres, with a five percent growth. The only thing we aren't happy about is industrial production, which has gone up by a mere two percent because of the December drop.
Vladimir Putin: But this is still a growth.
Valery Gayevsky: There is a growth, this is indisputable.
Vladimir Putin: The average picture in the rest of the country is about the same. What about social spheres, such as health care and education?
Valery Gayevsky: The situation is quite satisfactory there. We are more concerned about the labour market. Last year, unemployment went up 16%. We looked into the problem and came to the conclusion that this happened because employers have cut the number of vacancies by half. This caused a sharp drop in employment. In this context, the programme to create new jobs which you had advised us to work out was very useful. We have drafted it, and tomorrow will submit it to Alexander Zhukov at the commission (Governmental Commission on Sustainable Development of the Russian Economy). It provides for 19,800 additional jobs, and we have made appropriations in the territorial budget for co-financing it. I would say, this is our biggest challenge.
As for health care, the figures on the life span and the birth rate are great.
Vladimir Putin: "Great" would probably be an exaggeration. But are they improving at any rate?
Valery Gayevsky: They are positive - 2,500 births registered last year. We have never had such a high birth rate before.
Vladimir Putin: All right. Let's now discuss the programme you are going to present to the Government tomorrow.