Visits within Russia

11 may, 2011 19:41

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Samara Region Governor Vladimir Artyakov

The discussion focused on the region’s economy, which, according to Governor Artyakov, is making steady progress: unemployment has decreased significantly and the construction of an IT park has begun. Mr Putin wondered if these improvements had had any positive demographic effect. The governor said the birth rate in the Samara Region had reached a 20-year high in 2010.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Let’s begin by discussing an issue crucial to your region, that is, industrial production and how it’s getting back to normal after the downturn.

Vladimir Artyakov: As we review our recent performance, we can see some positive results, achieved through the joint effort of federal and regional authorities. The situation in the regional economy has stabilised by now, with the growth rate currently at 18%. This rate indicates that there’s been steady progress.

Vladimir Putin: Eighteen-percent growth year on year?

Vladimir Artyakov: In January-March 2011, as compared with the same period last year. We think that if this pace is sustained, the region will return to its pre-crisis production levels by the end of 2012. 

Vladimir Putin: You could fully overcome the crisis even earlier, by the middle of 2012, perhaps.

Vladimir Artyakov: Well, that’s possible. But according to the statistics we have, this is the best-case scenario.

Vladimir Putin: In late 2008 and early 2009, you identified mounting unemployment as a major social problem of the region. What’s the situation like now?

Vladimir Artyakov: Industrial growth leads to the creation of new jobs and the restoration of positions that had been cut. The unemployment rate in the Samara Region as a whole stands at 1.98% while in Togliatti, it’s even lower, 1.94%, thanks largely to decisions you made.

Vladimir Putin: This is much lower than the nation’s average, actually.

Vladimir Artyakov: True. The federal government’s recent measures (targeting Togliatti) have yielded positive results already.

Vladimir Putin: A special economic zone is to be created in your region, right?

Vladimir Artyakov: Yes, it’s being developed as part of the federal government’s programme on the single-industry town of Togliatti. We’ve already launched the construction of an IT park. This is a high-profile project. We’ve had the concept for its development approved by the Communications Ministry. The project is to be completed in two years’ time, and we expect it will be the country’s best IT park.

Vladimir Putin: Have these changes had any effect on family planning and the general demographic situation in your region?

Vladimir Artyakov: I’ve got something to boast of here.

Vladimir Putin: You personally?

Vladimir Artyakov: Well, the region set a 20-year record high for the birth rate in 2010: 138,174 births.

Vladimir Putin: That’s great!

Vladimir Artyakov: This increase goes to show that people living in the region trust our (development) programmes. They can see economic stability returning and new social possibilities opening up for them.

Vladimir Putin: I’ve got two more questions. One concerns AvtoVAZ. When developing our support programme, we earmarked money from the federal coffers to be sent to the region in order to relieve the company from some of its social burdens and thereby help it withstand the crisis. However, when I met with workers back then, many of them said they feared that the quality of public services (to be offered by municipalities) might be lower than those provided by the corporation. What’s the situation like at the company’s social institutions that are now under municipal control?

Vladimir Artyakov: Indeed, initially there were doubts, but as we were getting down to this programme, we made it clear to municipal and regional authorities, notably the region’s Health Department, that they should carefully monitor the situation on a daily basis.

There were certain shortcomings at the start, given the scale of the transfer. But we’ve improved the situation and now I get no more complaints about poor service, neither from AvtoVAZ workers, nor from other residents using the hospitals and kindergartens formerly run by the corporation. We keep this under close watch. The institutions are partially financed from the regional budget, so we make sure the money is not misused.

Vladimir Putin: How’s spring fieldwork going?

Vladimir Artyakov: We got started with a small delay this year because of weather conditions. But now we’ve caught up with the schedule and hope to complete the sowing campaign on time. Farmers have used more than 90% of fuel assigned them, and the entire amount of fertilisers.

Vladimir Putin: Are your current petrol supplies sufficient?

Vladimir Artyakov: Our main supplier is Rosneft. We’ve got three oil refineries, and we sign a contract with them every year, precisely for the supply of petrol to rural areas. This year we’ve bought diesel at 19,000 roubles per tonne. And we’ve stocked up enough for this sowing season, so our farmers are not affected by the current shortages and price hikes.

Vladimir Putin: Good.