24 december 2009

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a working meeting with Novgorod Region Governor Sergei Mitin

The two leaders have focused on the current social and economic situation in the Novgorod Region.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: As usual, I would like to hear about the current social and economic situation in your region.

Sergei Mitin: Mr. Putin, we did fairly well in 2009. First of all, I would like to thank you and the government. We had an anniversary year. In the beginning of the year we wondered if we really should celebrate it during a financial crisis. I think we made the right choice, though, by celebrating on grand scale. We received significant support from the government, because we began construction on and commissioned a number of public projects. These are projects of significant regional importance: an environmental centre and a sports centre. We have also renovated all the historical monuments in the city.

The budget is an integral indicator. We managed to keep it up to the 2008 level, fulfilling all our social welfare programmes. Some key figures even show progress. We are doing very well in agriculture, where growth of 116% is expected. Meat production has increased by 120%. A large poultry farm has been launched, stimulating feedstuff and grain production.

We have land development projects underway, and therefore investment is at about 103% compared to 2008.

Vladimir Putin: That's good. And what about unemployment?

Sergei Mitin: We have kept the unemployment rate down to 2.4% throughout the year. Now the figure is around 2.2%.

One struggling plywood mill in the single-industry town of Parfino shut down. Over the course of the year, we got through bankruptcy proceeding and re-launched production with the help of Sberbank, the mill's main creditor, a few months ago.

We are currently hiring people there. About 35% of the former employees are now working. And most importantly, because this is a one-industry town, we tried to bring other industries to the town. And today we are developing a procedure for this. We have an approximate solution to this problem.

Vladimir Putin: Are there any wage arrears?

Sergei Mitin: This enterprise used to account for 85% of the region's wage arrears - up to 75 million roubles. We had to go through the courts to have the company's non-essential property confiscated and sold.

Now, we are going to pay off half of the unpaid wages using the money from the sale of the assets not involved in the production process.

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