The President suggested beginning the conversation with roads, saying that 800 kilometres of roads had been built in the region during the past three years.
Alexander Burkov said the region had received 1 billion rubles from the Reserve Fund for building roads and that they had completed a road bypassing Kazakhstan in connection with obligations based on the results of border demarcation.
According to the Governor, the region’s economic indicators are quite good, overall, despite the pandemic. Tax revenue increased by 4.8 percent in 2020, thanks to a large amount of extra-budgetary investment, which went up by 14 percent over the year. Based on the results for the past three years, Omsk Region is the third best region in investment growth. Investment increased from less than 100 billion rubles in 2017 to 210 billion rubles in 2020. These funds were invested in oil refining, where Gazprom Neft was a major investor, as well as in agricultural and livestock processing facilities, where private funds were invested.
Alexander Burkov thanked the President for supporting their initiative to create the Avangard special economic zone. In December 2020, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a resolution on establishing the zone. The region expects to receive 23 billion rubles in investment from the first six industrial projects to be located there.
The Governor reported that industrial production in the region increased by 3 percent. The region’s farms harvested over 3 million tonnes of grain in the past two years despite natural disasters. Cattle head has increased, milk production is growing, but the production of meat has slumped, primarily because the region’s largest pig-breeding farm Chunayevsky was being renovated. The region increased its agricultural exports by 36 percent in 2020 and by 130 percent over the past three years.
The Governor also noted that the national projects are playing an important role in the region’s social and economic development. Over the two years since the national projects began to be implemented, the region was able to build five preschools, a school for 1,100 children, 44 rural health centres; capital repairs have been carried out at 50 rural cultural centres. Ten more preschools and six schools are still under construction. However, even though the overall figures are not bad, the region, and in particular, Omsk is experiencing a shortage of preschool facilities.
The governor believes the main problem is the outflow of the population from the region, which has been going on for more than a decade. The President noted that was probably due to substandard living conditions, although according to experts, the climate and natural environment in Omsk Region is similar to those in Krasnodar Territory or Oryol Region. The Governor explained that the problem was a lack of jobs. More than 60,000 local people work rotating shifts outside the region, mainly in the north – in Tyumen Region, Khanty-Mansi and Yamalo-Nenets areas. Therefore, the solution would be to create more new jobs. The Avangard economic zone was established for this purpose. It is also essential to make life in the region more comfortable. Furthermore, according to Alexander Burkov, it is necessary to develop a separate federal programme for the socioeconomic development of border areas, which include Omsk Region.
According to Alexander Burkov, the region has practically no natural resources and is remote in terms of sales markets. Therefore, the best prospect for development would be to create a logistics hub, a so-called window or gateway to Asia.
He also proposed considering the possibility of building a northern bypass around the city of Omsk. The problem is that all the local industrial facilities – more than 200 – are located in the right-bank part of the city, so all freight transport passes through the city centre. The length of a possible northern bypass would be 60.5 kilometres, and investment costs would be quite high at 42 billion rubles. The project could take ten years. But the project should resolve some environmental issues, Alexander Burkov emphasised. Along with removing freight traffic from the city area, construction of the roadbed would use up the ash and slag waste now stored in the city. Omsk storage facilities now hold 76 million tonnes of ash and slag; 6.5 million tonnes could be used for the construction of this road. The bypass would connect two outbound roads – to Tyumen and to Novosibirsk. And in the future, it could link to the motorway that runs south to Pavlodar, the Republic of Kazakhstan. According to the Governor, this is a matter of safety, environmental protection, and the future development of a transport hub.
Vladimir Putin suggested discussing this in more detail.