The Governor reported that the past ten days have shown a steady trend: the number of COVID-19 patients who have recovered is significantly higher than the number of new cases. Some 2,571 hospital beds have been allocated; currently, 1,108 beds in regular wards and 131 beds in intensive care units are available. Eleven laboratories are involved in testing and are performing 2,000 tests per day. Almost 140,000 tests have been conducted in total as of today. This indicates that the situation is stable; the disease is under control and even in decline.
Alexander Drozdenko also spoke about support measures for medical workers, small and medium-sized businesses, private entrepreneurs, large and low-income families and pensioners. As one support measure, families that could not afford to buy computers for their children’s remote learning during the pandemic were provided with laptops and tablets.
To support the labour market, since May 25, the Leningrad Region has organised jobs in road maintenance, environmental protection, agriculture, forest management and landscaping. These are paid jobs available for three months; people are hired through employment centres. The governor asked the President to support this initiative and give instructions to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to extend this practice to other regions.
The region is gradually lifting the lockdown restrictions.
As far as the overall socioeconomic situation in the region, the governor said that the main challenge is to maintain positive economic growth. The region has been able to maintain growth in many segments of industrial production, agriculture and construction. Major investment projects of both federal and regional scale have received continuous support as well.
The governor spoke about the region’s goal to improve the quality of the living environment in all 32 local towns, based on 36 indicators, by 2024. In this context, he asked the President to instruct the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the governments of Leningrad Region and St Petersburg to work on creating a single regional waste disposal operator. It would help to consolidate waste flows from the city and the region and to implement a common recycling strategy based on modern technologies.
The President addressed some problem issues in the region, such as the large amount of dilapidated housing, insufficient availability of medical specialists and the fact that over 70 percent of waste treatment facilities in small towns require to be upgraded. He asked the governor to specifically focus on these things.
Vladimir Putin noted that in general, there has been certain progress in Leningrad Region. Several key economic development indicators are above the national average. The gross regional product grew by 7.1 percent in 2018 and 2019 (the national average is 3.8 percent). Industrial production grew by 9.9 percent (the national average is 5.9 percent). The scope of construction projects is also extensive. Retail trade is growing. Capital investment is increasing. The region has a budget surplus and enjoys good financial self-sufficiency and low debt. The population is growing while the unemployment rate is below the national average.
Alexander Drozdenko pointed out that Leningrad Region is holding a governor election this year and asked the President to approve his candidacy.
The President noted that the region’s progress is a result of the governor’s and his team’s work; therefore, he has the moral right to run for governor again. Although it is up to the voters to have the final say when the time comes in September. The President wished Alexander Drozdenko every success.