Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Governor of the Samara Region Vladimir Artyakov
12 june 2009
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Artyakov. How is it going? What changes have been made at the city's businesses since my last visit?
Vladimir Artyakov: We are acting in line with your instructions and decisions. I would like to focus on the situation in the region, and report back both about those measures and decisions that have already been taken, and about how they are currently being implemented.
The regional government is currently focussing its efforts above all on maintaining the macroeconomic condition of the region in the context of the crisis. To this end, we are taking great pains to safeguard people's jobs and to lower unemployment as much as possible.
As for the outcome: all the measures we are taking are showing positive results. While the overall growth in unemployment here from December to April was between 1% and 2.5%, we can say that it stabilised in May. And we are seeing positive trends here, which indicate that we are on the right track.
In addition, the programmes our government developed with support from the federal Government are also yielding positive results. We have attracted significant financial investment, principally over 700 million roubles in federal resources for one of the programmes. The inter-agency programme received over 1 billion roubles. Thus we can conclude that today, even if our residents are made redundant in the future, provisions have been made above all for unemployment benefit, and securing jobs.
We are running a retraining programme, and a social work programme. We have allocated funds to these programmes, and we estimate that they can accommodate about 80,000 people. Today there are already more than 30,000 people involved in these programmes. This is of course yielding positive results.
As for the backlog in wage payment, we have already halved it. Where it used to stand at 300-400 million, today it is about 170 million roubles. Moreover, we are constantly decreasing these arrears.
Of course business owners are also experiencing difficulties. However, we are working so as to retain the maximum number of jobs and to avoid mass redundancies. The owners understand this and have reacted positively to the measures we have taken.
Regarding the situation at AVTOVAZ, as I have already said, we are currently implementing those decisions you have made. These concern, in the first instance, the social sphere. We have transferred all public facilities and sports centres onto the local budget for the city of Togliatti. Thus, we have removed AVTOVAZ's social burden. And having been relieved of this burden, AVTOVAZ can breathe more easily.
Vladimir Putin: Are you receiving the money allocated from the federal budget towards these goals?
Vladimir Artyakov: We are receiving the money. Additionally, in accordance with your instructions, we are also receiving a 3-year loan according to the requisite conditions. This has also helped us to place those facilities into the municipal account.
So it is safe to say that the situation at the AVTOVAZ plant and in the city as a whole is under control and predictable. There have been no mass redundancies. Wages are paid on time. Of course, they are not paid at the same levels as before, because, obviously, several plants have cut their shifts and are not working the full working day. But nonetheless, jobs have been safeguarded and wages are being paid regularly.
Vladimir Putin: You know of course about the massive help the Government has given AVTOVAZ, and you are surely also aware of the related criticism. I would heed that criticism because we must not preserve inefficient production.
We cannot leave a business, or workforce, in difficulty: we must and will help them. However, at the same time, we must require that the owners and the managers take concerted action to improve production, reduce delays and expenses.
There is a whole programme that AVTOVAZ prepared in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development and other agencies. You are not currently directly involved with the enterprise, but all the same you are, to an extent, familiar with the business. You worked there for a long time, and today, as Governor, you carry a significant share of responsibility for what happens in the economy as a whole as well as at the largest business in the country, and moreover, the region.
I also ask that you are assiduous in keeping track of how these plans for the enterprise are implemented.
Vladimir Artyakov: Agreed, Mr Putin. But in fact AVTOVAZ is always on the regional government's radar, since it is the city's principal employer. There are over 700,000 residents in Togliatti. Moreover, all are involved with that plant. In addition, it should be said that there are 321 businesses in the region that work for AVOTVAZ.
Vladimir Putin: Right you are. That is why I am saying that it would be absolutely irresponsible to say that it does not concern us. Nearly a million people live there, and many families are connected with the business. It is a significant part of the Russian economy and it would be absolutely irresponsible to abandon them to the mercy of fate. However, at the same time we have the right to require that the owners and the management adopt a businesslike approach, not squandering the help that the Government has allocated, but using it rationally.
Vladimir Artyakov: That is very important. As it happens, we are in constant dialogue with the owners. Not just with AVTOVAZ's management but also with the owners, which is Russian Technologies, who supervise the receipt of funds for AVTOVAZ. In addition, of course we will ensure that these resources reach the real economy, primarily automobile component production. We are also restructuring AVTOVAZ. It is most important to combat delays, and redirect production towards other technological processes so as to retain the workforce and move forward in the production of new cars.
Vladimir Putin: Do you remember that during the meeting at the plant, a woman asked about how work in the medical sector is managed, and she also asked about efforts to combat cancer. An oncological centre is being developed in the region, how is this centre functioning?
Vladimir Artyakov: We examined this problem and the specific question posed by that woman. In reality the question was only raised due to a lack of information. Our oncological centre's capacity significantly exceeds the needs that currently exist in our region. And since we are unveiling the last stage of our oncological centre, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to see how it is equipped and how it works. It is in fact one of the largest oncological centres in Europe and thanks to the help from the Russian Government, we have been able to complete its construction. Very great financial resources were allocated to it and were it not for the federal Government's help then of course we would not have managed it. Today the oncological centre is fully operational. In coming days the third stage will be underway, and we will already be able to inform our population about how they can get the full benefit from the services the centre provides.
Vladimir Putin: How many beds does it have?
Vladimir Artyakov: There are more than 500 beds, that is in one department alone, and over all there will be 850.
Vladimir Putin: How much does the equipment cost?
Vladimir Artyakov: The total budgeted cost of the equipment is over 4 billion roubles.