The Governor began his report with a coronavirus update. In December, the region had up to 400 cases per day at the peak, whereas in the last two months, there has been a downward trend. Now there are about 90 cases per day. The main weapon in the fight against the infection has been a new, state-of-the-art infectious disease hospital, three buildings of which were built following the Presidential instruction last year. The number of vaccinated people is growing; over 70 percent of medical and social workers and over 80 percent of teachers have been vaccinated.
As for the socioeconomic indicators, Mikhail Vedernikov first of all spoke about problems associated with depopulation, as the region loses one percent of its population annually. Among the main problems are staff shortages in almost all spheres, weak economic base, undeveloped road infrastructure, outdated utilities and electric grid complex, and a low level of gas supply.
According to Mr Vedernikov, an extremely important issue is the state of the electric grid complex: 95 percent of its facilities are in need of renovation. As a result of bad weather this year, ten, fifteen, and even twenty thousand people were left without power several times. A five-year programme to improve energy efficiency in the region has been developed and agreed upon with the Energy Ministry. The Governor asked the President to give a corresponding instruction to the Government.
The Governor noted that renovation of the utilities infrastructure would have a positive effect on the region’s investment appeal. In this regard, the region is making good progress: the growth index of both industrial production and agriculture is slightly higher than the national average. The growth of investment in fixed assets is also slightly higher than the national average. The labour market is stabilising.
Another important problem is the staff shortage, especially in healthcare. As the Governor said, the issue of building a training and laboratory block for the medical faculty of Pskov State University has already been worked out with the Government. To speed up the construction, taking into account the positive experience in the construction of infectious disease buildings with the help of the Defence Ministry, the Governor asked the President to issue one more instruction: to allocate funds from the federal budget, and make the Defence Ministry the only provider of the service. An agreement with the Ministry has already been reached; the Ministry's specialists have already developed the project and are ready to start work this year. Then, in September next year, students will start studying there.
Vladimir Putin promised to support the region's proposals on the issues raised during the conversation.
Mr Vedernikov said that in order to address depopulation, the region, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, has worked out a proposal to create conditions for people, including compatriots, to move to rural areas and live comfortably, and for the Pskov Region to participate in a number of exclusive programmes currently in place for the regions in the Far East. The President said that this issue has already been resolved.
Mr Vedernikov also spoke about participation in the implementation of an individual socioeconomic programme for the regions. The Pskov Region participates in it as one of the ten regions with the lowest fiscal capacity. The region has already held 27 events worth more than one billion rubles. Also with the support of the President, renovation of infrastructure in border areas was launched.