Working Day

6 april, 2012 13:08

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on housing construction for military personnel in the city of Engels

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on housing construction for military personnel in the city of Engels
“We have every reason to believe we can solve the issue of providing permanent accommodations for Defence Ministry military personnel in the near future, either in late 2012 or in early 2013,” Vladimir Putin said.

Vladimir Putin’s introductory remarks:

Good afternoon. Today, we will speak on one of the most important and urgent issues both for our armed forces and all security agencies – namely, the provision of housing to military personnel. But first, I would like to say that the location is very convenient as it is easy to get to the city of Saratov and its downtown. During my recent visit to Samara, local residents complained that certain parts of the federal highway M55, such as the section to the town of Zhigulyovsk, are in such bad shape that it is difficult even to walk there, to say nothing of driving. I hope reconstruction work will soon start there, including work at the embankment and the bridge.

I have spoken with Mr Radayev (Valery Radayev, Saratov Region Governor) on the situation with roads in Saratov. This year, the regional road funds will increase several times over. Previously, such funds did not even exist – while now they have been established and are being filled up with money. As regards Saratov, a total of 5 billion roubles will be allocated, as the governor said. Once again, I’ll repeat that this is many times more than in previous years. I expect this money to be spent efficiently and at sites that require it most – in regional centres, rural areas, villages, roads and areas close to residential buildings will be properly paved.

Now, as for housing developments of the kind – we have mentioned it during our talk with the minister – surely, such large military centres as here in Engels must be built and equipped in a modern and comprehensive manner, as regards both the military component and related infrastructure. I am speaking about the runway, the service infrastructure and social facilities. Everything obsolete and ramshackle should be pulled down and eliminated, with new up-to-date complexes built instead. Preliminary estimations reveal that in the end it will be cheaper, more efficient and profitable than constant patch-ups and never-ending capital repairs. The Defence Ministry supports this approach, and every possible effort will be made to back it. I expect efficient and active work, which must bring positive results.

Now, let’s move on to the issue that brought us here today: provision of housing to military servicemen. Back in 2006, at a regular meeting with military district commanders, they told me that increasing the pay and pensions was certainly very important, but housing was the most painful problem in the Armed Forces. Servicemen and their family members told me the same when I visited military towns.

As you may be aware, only 8,000 – 10,000 new flats for servicemen were built or purchased in the 1990s and the early 2000s. About 20,000 servicemen were placed on municipal waitlists in the 1990s meaning that they didn’t have a place of their own at all. They are still waiting. Following our conversations with the military district commanders, we began a large-scale housing programme for servicemen of the Defence Ministry and other related departments. As you may recall, we started out with the 15+15 programme, i.e. allocated an additional 15 billion roubles on two occasions in 2006-2007 and bought 18,000 flats for servicemen. We brought the number of newly purchased flats up to 45,500 in 2010, spending 118 billion roubles in the process. In all, we allocated 250 billion roubles for these purposes from the federal budget in 2008–2011 and spent another 50 billion to pay for housing certificates that we made available to servicemen. We have stepped up our activities in this area, and the pace that we are moving at now leads us to believe that the problem of permanent housing for servicemen will be resolved in full in 2013, or even by late 2012, as the Defence Ministry says.

I would like to point out that there are no objective reasons to procrastinate on resolving this issue. We have a list of needy cases, and all staffing measures related to transition to the upgraded Armed Forces have been implemented. Today, we have a full picture – at least, I hope so – of how much housing is required to meet servicemen’s housing needs in full. The necessary financing from the federal budget has been provided in full as well.

Please note that we have so far failed to establish a procedure governing the provision of housing, although we have discussed this issue many times. Mr Serdyukov, in what cities do we have these centres? Moscow, St Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don?

Anatoly Serdyukov: We have them in all regional capitals, but the largest ones are located in Moscow, the Moscow Region, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Stavropol, Krasnodar and Vladivostok…

Vladimir Putin: What I have here is St Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg, Khabarovsk and, of course, Moscow. This is clearly not enough, because people need to travel to them, sometimes from remote locations. This makes the entire procedure more complicated. The paperwork process needs to be streamlined and made more convenient for users. You and I are aware of regulatory and other issues associated with the provision of housing, but the organisational and bureaucratic barriers should be reduced to the minimum.

Today, we should analyse all issues involved in providing permanent and service housing. First, I would like to see all unfinished construction completed as soon as possible without compromising the quality, of course. We instructed the Audit Chamber to take inventory of the current situation. It reported back that there were 775 unfinished buildings worth 109.6 billion roubles as of October 1, 2011.

On the bright side, if we complete this construction, then we’ll provide all Defence Military servicemen with permanent housing in full. The Ministry of Economic Development thinks likewise. In other words, we assess the situation similarly, and we have good reasons to believe that we can provide permanent housing to all military servicemen by late 2012 or during 2013, at the latest.

Secondly, social infrastructure and public utilities should also be in place, so that people can live a comfortable life in their new flats. This kind of work needs to be coordinated with local and regional authorities, including governors. Mr Radayev (Valery Radayev, Governor of the Saratov Region), I hope that all necessary decisions will be made by regional and municipal authorities. All land plots, including the ones owned by the Defence Ministry, should go to municipal authorities so that they can build the infrastructure and housing for servicemen. This land could also be used to build kindergartens, schools, roads, public utilities and so on.

Thirdly, the paperwork shouldn’t cause major inconveniences or require much effort to complete. Field reception offices or temporary centres should be set up in major housing developments and in regions with particularly large numbers of servicemen in need of housing. Fixed-site centres in major cities are not enough, as I said. What we need to do is not just finish the construction within the timeframe that I mentioned above, but also transfer titles to these flats to the servicemen or sign social rent agreements with them.

There’s one more problem that has to do with the Defence Ministry’s service housing. Today, it is comprised of dedicated flats or entire buildings as in the town of Engels. In other instances, new military towns are being built. The infrastructure issues should be addressed in the same way here, and the towns should be consistent with the latest standards. Of course, we need to take inventory of existing service housing stock and see what needs to be done to bring it up to standard.

We agreed that this needs to be done as soon as possible and we know that proper funding is available. Given the scale of new construction, we also need to hold the line on housing prices in the process. We know what can happen when developers have that confidence that the funding will be provided in full. We should use modern market price regulation mechanisms in order to be able to keep prices in check. They are being used with a great deal of success now, and I hope that things will stay that way in the future as well. Clearly, prices differ across regions, but still we should stay within the agreed amounts in order to preclude any financing shortages. Let me reiterate: we haven’t had any so far and I hope we won’t have any in the future. Everyone should work at their respective workplaces and carry out the plans that we have agreed upon.

Let’s discuss our future work now.