Vladimir Putin proposed starting the conversation with the investment projects, which are to be completed in the Penza Region in 2021–2023. These projects include the construction of a meat processing complex, a dairy farm, a livestock breeding complex in the Penzensky District, a factory to produce raw materials and components for the food industry in the Bessonovsky District, a flour mill in the Mokshansky District, and a construction materials facility in the closed administrative-territorial unit Zarechny.
Oleg Melnichenko told the President that additional agreements on the implementation of these investment projects had been signed on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. In the next three years, investment in these projects will reach some 22 billion rubles, and about 1,200 jobs will be created. In addition, their implementation will increase the Penza Region’s agriculture contribution to the gross regional product, which currently equals 15 percent, by 1.2–1.5 percent.
According to the Acting Governor, an agreement has been reached with Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov to develop a machine-tool cluster at StankoMashStroy. Another three investment facilities are being created on Soviet-era industrial sites, where the production facilities were torn down but the remaining communications and the areas themselves can only be used for industrial production. This will allow creating additional industrial facilities in the region. Also, the rezoning of an industrial facility that was used for the liquidation of chemical weapons is underway. The Konoplex group of agricultural companies will use that site to create a new facility there in late 2021 and 2022.
The region’s industrial production index is 117 percent, but this is not enough yet to reach the national average per capita indicators. To be able to reach them, the region must implement new investment projects and build new facilities.
The Acting Governor, who has headed the region since last March, considers the implementation of all projects that were started before he took office very promising. He mentioned the launch of the turkey processing plant with a capacity of 303 tonnes per day and Damate’s plans, Russia’s biggest turkey meat producer, to bring its production capacity in the Penza Region to 207,000 tonnes in 2023. Then the Russian Federation will be among the Top 5 biggest turkey meat producers in the world and the Penza Region will become the main turkey meat producer in the country.
Replying to the President’s question, Oleg Melnichenko said the implementation of these projects has not been suspended despite COVID and all of them are certainly feasible.
Vladimir Putin noted that now investors may need not only federal assistance, but also they will need assistance from the region and the Acting Governor’s team and asked those present to keep this in mind. The President also mentioned that in written documents and addresses, the Acting Governor sent to the head of state, healthcare issues are raised for the most part.
Mr Melnichenko explained that the spread of the coronavirus epidemic has pointed to the need to upgrade the region’s infectious disease service, which requires additional opportunities. In this context, Mr Melnichenko asked the President to support and include in the 2022–2024 draft budget the construction of an infectious disease department in a regional specialised care hospital.
The second problem is the oncological situation. On average, 7,000 cancer cases per year are detected in the region, or 550 cases per 100,000 people, which is 23 percent above the national average. Hence, the high mortality rate from cancer. COVID has made this bad situation worse. The region has an oncological centre but it lacks surgical capacity and needs a special surgery building. Profound diagnostics is also necessary. The region will pay for the construction of the PET-CT centre next year but they also need the equipment for it, notably a PET-CT scanner as such. It will allow doctors to determine correct diagnoses, prescribe treatment and avoid complications after cancer surgery. Mr Melnichenko asked for support for the acquisition of medical equipment with federal funds.
Vladimir Putin promised support, emphasising that it is necessary to provide certain fundamental conditions to prevent people from getting sick. One is the quality of water, which is affected by rundown housing and communal systems. The President suggested that one more document linked with this aspect should be sent to him. It is necessary to improve this infrastructure by all means.
The President also suggested focusing on a current economic issue – companies and agencies’ debts for energy resources, including gas.
The President noted that in general, the Acting Governor had set his priorities correctly and promised to give him the support he needs.