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Vladimir Putin: Let’s talk about the district and the economic situation there.
Unemployment has always been the biggest problem in the southern regions, especially youth unemployment. What is the situation today?
Alexander Khloponin: Mr President, acting on your instructions, we have been carrying out the federal targeted programmes Russia’s South and Socioeconomic Development of the Republic of Ingushetia in the region over these last years, and we have completed the Socioeconomic Development of the Republic of Chechnya programme. Added to this, we have development institutions such as North Caucasus Resorts and the North Caucasus Development Corporation at work now. They already have around a dozen big investment projects underway in the region.
I can report that we have positive results. Unemployment has dropped by 197,000 people in the federal district. This is a significant decrease.
Vladimir Putin: What’s that as a percentage?
Alexander Khloponin: It’s a 40% drop. When we started, there were 486,000 registered unemployed, and today the number has decreased by 197,000 people. This was achieved above all by having employment centres work actively in each part of the federal district. We have created from 11,000 to 45,000 new jobs in the different republics in the small- and medium-sized business sector. The programme has proved very effective.
Furthermore, as you instructed, we are carrying out investment projects in different sectors such as agribusiness and the construction industry.
In accordance with your executive orders of May 7, 2012, we are now working hard on construction of social infrastructure facilities. We do have a big problem in the region in that birth rates are quite high and there are long waiting lists to get places in kindergartens. We have three regions where, unfortunately, children are forced to attend school in three shifts: there are 14 schools in this situation in Dagestan and 11 in Chechnya and Ingushetia. In accordance with your instructions, we have drafted a state programme for developing the North Caucasus Federal District.
This new federal targeted programme will be approved in November. The main funds – federal funds – will be spent precisely on addressing these serious social problems. The instructions you set out in your executive orders will be carried out. The situation is not easy, but we will resolve it step by step.
Vladimir Putin: We can see that things are getting done, but there are still a great many problems to address. I ask you to keep the regional heads focused on not letting up in their work in these areas. You say a lot of new jobs have been created and small and medium businesses are opening, but this is still not enough. The situation remains very serious and we need to work even harder on resolving it.