In his address at the meeting, Vladimir Putin stressed that the Trans-Baikal Territory’s issues should be addressed through the development of the regional economy. The President pointed out the need for rational use of the resources allocated for targeted programmes and more efficient coordination in the work of federal agencies and regional authorities.
Mr Putin named the development of agriculture as one of the key challenges. The President also stressed the importance of taking full advantage of the region’s geographic situation, in particular, the direct access to the markets of China and Mongolia it affords.
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Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today, we will discuss the social and economic situation in Trans-Baikal Territory and exchange views on how to improve the business climate and create new opportunities for business activity.
“We need to focus our attention on our economic priority tasks. One of these is to develop the agribusiness sector. Production in this sector has increased over the last five years. We need to consolidate these positive trends, including by bolstering businesses’ financial and equipment bases, raising labour productivity, and developing the livestock sector.”
Trans-Baikal Territory has obvious economic advantages. It is rich in natural resources, and the main transport links between Asia and Europe cross it. And yet, as we all know, it is one of our country’s most problematic regions.
A poorly developed energy infrastructure is one of the biggest obstacles to growth in the region. This is clearly putting a brake on developing business activity. Unemployment is particularly worrying. We can be proud that Russia has brought overall unemployment down to a record low of 5.5 percent, but unemployment in Trans-Baikal Territory was more than 10 percent – 10.7 percent – for the March-May period of this year.
The demographic situation is improving slowly. The family support and healthcare improvement programmes we have been carrying out have helped to bring about a more than two-fold decrease in infant mortality over the last five years, and this is definitely a good result. There has been natural population growth in the region since 2007, but at the same time, the number of people permanently resident in the region continues to drop with every passing year, and the population outflow continues.
Clearly, the only way to resolve these many problems is to boost the economy. We need to make our economic decisions more effective, use targeted programmes’ resources more rationally, and better coordinate work between the federal and regional authorities.
At the same time, we need to focus our attention on our economic priority tasks. One of these is to develop the agribusiness sector. Production in this sector has increased over the last five years. We need to consolidate these positive trends, including by bolstering businesses’ financial and equipment bases, raising labour productivity, and developing the livestock sector.
I know that the region’s government is working directly on all of these issues. I would like to hear about your work priorities today.
Making maximum use of the region’s geographical location is another key task. The biggest advantage here is the direct link to markets in China, Mongolia and other countries and the chance to supply them with the goods they need. We need to develop the transport, border, and logistics infrastructure and make it modern and convenient to use. This will stimulate business activity in the region and will also help to develop domestic and foreign tourism, which is also a good avenue to develop.
Colleagues, I want to say a few words about another very important matter – improving the business climate. I have said before that this is one of the keys to developing the regional economy and an essential condition for raising people’s living standards and developing the region overall.
You know that we drew up a number of ‘roadmaps’ as part of our national initiative to improve the investment climate. The objective was to help create comfortable conditions for everyone wanting to get into business.
“Making maximum use of the region’s geographical location is another key task. The biggest advantage here is the direct link to markets in China, Mongolia and other countries and the chance to supply them with the goods they need. We need to develop the transport, border, and logistics infrastructure and make it modern and convenient to use.”
More and more businesspeople are getting involved in monitoring the roadmaps’ implementation now. I see that businesspeople I know who work in this region are here today. I would like to hear objective information from you today, colleagues, on what has been accomplished, what still needs to be done, and which issues require our particular attention.
Implementing regional investment standards is another important matter. The aim here is to ensure a comfortable business environment not just in the country as a whole but in each individual region too. Many regions have already put in place these regional investment standards, including Tatarstan, Kaluga, Ulyanovsk, Lipetsk, Tula Regions, and others.
Your region must get more actively involved in these processes. I ask the regional governor to ensure that all the preparations are made to implement these regional standards as soon as possible, working together with the business community and the Strategic Initiatives Agency.
The small and medium-sized business sector employs around 18 percent of the region’s workforce today. This is nearly 1.5-fold lower than the national average.
According to the state statistics agency, around 96,000 people, including self-employed people, were employed in the region’s SME sector as at January 1, 2013. This is around 18 percent of the region’s working age population. As I said, this is 1.5-fold lower than the national average. The national average is not high as it is – 25 percent – but in your region it is only 18 percent.
The issues that come up at meetings like today’s usually include connection to the utilities and energy networks, electricity, gas, water, and these are things that require joint efforts between the regional and federal authorities. We can also draw on the best practice coming from other regions in these areas. Moscow, for example, has become a pilot region for reducing the time it takes to go complete all the procedures for construction permits and connection to the energy infrastructure.
I hope very much that the decisions that come out of today’s meeting will help to develop the SME sector in the region and improve things for the better in general here.
Let’s get to work.