Visits within Russia

14 april, 2009 17:00

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting in St Petersburg on the programme of transport infrastructure development in 2009 and on anti-crisis measures in the transport sector

Vladimir Putin's introductory remarks:

Good afternoon, colleagues.

Today we will examine questions on the modernisation of the national transport sector and discuss the progress made on the anti-crisis measures in this sector. We need to see what additional measures should be taken in order to ensure the stable and reliable performance of the sector.

We must resolve the task in hand in order to make sure that citizens, as well as the economy, are served by a modern transport system; avail of Russia's unique geographical location to ensure the maximal use of our transit potential; and offer new, alternative routes for the high-speed, secure movement of people and goods.

All these strategic tasks are mentioned in the Transport Strategy in the period up to 2030.

In 2008, 421 billion roubles were allocated to transport from the federal budget, which is one and a half times as much as in the previous year. As a result of this increased investment, more than 2,200km of motorway were built, 296 towns were provided with year-round links to existing road networks, and several major transport facilities have been brought into use.

Let me mention several of them. First of all, there is the St Petersburg Ring Road, with the southern section of the Western High-Speed Diameter; the junction in Mytishchi on the Moscow-Yaroslavl road; the transport routes bypassing Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk; the first section of the transport route bypassing Sochi. There are also five major bridges: over the Kama in Perm, over the Oka in Kaluga, over the Ob in Novosibirsk, over the Yenisei in Krasnoyarsk, and over the Ural in Orsk. A second lock has been built at Kochetovsky hydroelectric system on the Volga-Don canal.

This year, irrespective of all the difficulties we have experienced, we are not introducing cutbacks; instead, we are increasing the resources allocated to the development of the transport system.

We consider this approach to be one of the most important anti-crisis measures, which will allow us not only to create more jobs, but will also lay down the fundamental infrastructure for the post-crisis development of our country.

By comparison with 2008, how does the outlook for 2009 appear? The volume of investment has been significantly increased, by 100 billion roubles, which brings it to 550 billion roubles, including 312 billion roubles for the construction and major repair works on roads (up from 294 billion roubles last year). As a whole, the financing for the sector, combined with the anti-crisis measures, has increased by 30%, and if you take highway repair and construction, then this increase stands at 15%.

In 2009, we are planning to carry out rebuilding works on sections of the following federal highways: Rossiya, Don, Ukraina, Ural, as well as completing work on the second stage of the Amur highway, and open three bridges across the Volga to traffic.

In addition to that, decisions have been taken which allow us to support the development of the highway infrastructure in the regions, and also to continue to implement the Russian Railways investment programme.

First of all, demands for the co-financing of road building in the regions have diminished. I am referring to our relations with the regions. 95% of expenditure is drawn from the federal budget and only 5% from the region. Last year, the correlation was 20% to 80%. This decision allows the continuation of road building projects even in those regions of the Russian Federation that have suffered most in the crisis.

Many deputies and regional representatives have called for an increase in the new version of the 2009 budget financing provisions for regional highways. Yes, this is possible. I remind you, that the regions will receive three yearly budgetary loans amounting to a total of 150 billion roubles. We used to offer these loans for a period of one year only; now, we offer them for three years. Some of these resources, 25 billion roubles, could be assigned for road building.

We have just witnessed how work is progressing in one of the most important infrastructure projects in Russia's Northwest and St Petersburg. The city authorities have asked for support with this construction. I think this is possible. Today, I signed the Government Regulation assigning 20.6 billion roubles for these projects in 2009-10. I hope the city administration will fulfil its commitment and make 6.6 billion roubles available for this purpose from their own budget.

Moving on. As we said earlier, no less than 50 billion roubles will be contributed to the authorised capital of Russian Railways (RZhD) to compensate for the revenue shortfall. The decision to issue compensation to make up for the falling incomes was made since the tariff for train transportation, which was expected to increase 14% in 2009, instead only reached 8%. I believe that the shortfall in revenues of the company today, taking into account the falling cargo volume, should be in some way compensated. This 50 billion roubles will be directed to these ends.

Of course, I understand the concerns of the company managers who repeatedly raise this issue. I should say directly that I agree with them: the RZhD requires a great deal more investment that it has the ability to spend today, even taking into account those measures I have already mentioned. That is why let us today also discuss additional suggestions. The Transport Ministry and the company are asking for the increase in federal financing that should, in part, be spent on renewing rolling stock.

It is a complex issue. Opinions differ and there are differing approaches to it; however, we must find a solution. Additional state orders for transport machinery rely on it, as does, as I have already mentioned, the retention of many thousands of jobs.

Finally, in finding an anti-crisis solution to these problems, we should not forget about more systemic issues. One of them is improvement of modern professional education in the transport sector.

Work to create unified educational centres based on transport higher educational institutions and technical colleges has been going on for some time. I would like to hear today, what has been done recently on this, and what is planned.

The year 2009 is a special year for this sector. Two hundred years ago, various types of transportation in Russia began to be integrated into a unified system, while the St Petersburg Railway Engineers University was established, the first technical higher educational institution in Russia.

Our common goal is for this year to be a successful one and for all these plans I have mentioned to be implemented.

So let's begin the discussions.