The President said that money allocated for emergency disaster relief measures following the flooding in the Far East must be used strictly for these purposes only and not for any other needs.
The possibility of loan extensions for agricultural producers was also discussed at the meeting.
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Closing remarks at meeting with heads of Amur Region municipalities
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: We have many problems, but let’s not try to resolve all of them at once, at the expense of quick action and measures that will be taken based on studies regarding the effects of the floods. Let’s say there is a population centre or there are production facilities that, for one reason or another are shutting down, ending their operations; we should not try to resolve those problems at the expense of this situation. It needs to be done in the normal, regular way in the future, jointly with the governor, the regional authorities, and maybe with the help of the federal government and budget. The same is true for large-scale irrigation works; they are usually very expensive, they are certainly necessary, and without a doubt, they need to be carried out, but not at the cost of funding that will now be directed toward resolving urgent problems related to overcoming the consequences of the flood.
As for the areas that will receive financing from the federal budget and when it comes to helping people, we will have four forms of financing.
The first is immediate monetary assistance worth 10,000 roubles provided to individuals. The second is providing help replacing the personal property they lost, and rather than fifty thousand, we will provide them with one hundred thousand roubles.
The third is aid for conducting major housing repairs, at a rate of five thousand roubles per square metre. And finally, homes that were completely destroyed will be completely replaced, with new construction or a market purchase.
I want to point something out to you, as well as contractors and construction companies: yes, construction costs a little bit more here than, say, in the European part of the country, but the fact that this will involve large-scale purchases and large-scale construction should lead to a reduction in the cost of this construction work. I am not going to name any final figures right now, but this is obvious; and if they do not understand this, they will find themselves in the possession of completed housing that nobody will want to buy for many years, because we will be providing people who need housing with homes that we will build ourselves.
I am not going to name any final figures now, but in the European part of the nation – you recall the tragedy that occurred in the city of Krymsk – on average, for a family of three, we built or bought (mainly bought) apartments at a cost of about 2 million roubles.
Now, concerning another issue. Friends, our most important and difficult problem is agriculture and supporting farming. This is clear to me; we are in an agricultural region. I cannot tell you right now that loans will be written off. I also cannot say that it is impossible, but I am not prepared to talk about it now. Still, we will certainly resolve the issue of prolonging loans and interest payments, as well as the loan principal where necessary.
We will try to help with seeds and motor fuels via various channels. And all this needs to be done so as to ensure that all these prolongations and support measures also accommodate future sowing, the harvest and its sales, because without selling the future harvest, we cannot talk about any steps with regard to financing for agricultural producers. (The Agriculture Ministry will work with regional authorities on this). I hope this is clear to everyone.
Now, regarding communication. We will see what can be done in addition to what has occurred already, taking into account the difficulties you just spoke about. But I want to repeat again that communication and transport infrastructure must be restored – first and foremost, taking into account that which has been destroyed, regardless of how much we might want to do something else for the future, create some sort of forthcoming improvements, broaden connections, improve them, and make them more stable. Ultimately, this is a separate issue. Let me repeat again: we need to restore what we had before but, of course, at a new level of quality. Let’s consider this as well.
Healthcare and education depend largely on you and the governor. We will also consider how to help you with this.
Now, regarding coal delivery. We will need to subsidise delivery, or the railroads will need to take on some of these expenses. We will decide on this matter and help you.
We will also think about electricity, what can be done, at the very least, to stabilise the rates and at least partially subsidise them.
Now, concerning temporary housing in areas where it is necessary, and in places where it will be necessary for some time to come, perhaps even a lengthy period, because the winter is coming soon, and it doesn’t seem possible to build that much housing. People will need to be housed somewhere, and children must attend school. We need to think this through. The assistance provided and the competent execution of this work is dependent on you, the governor and the federal Government.
The schools in some residential areas have remained intact, but surrounding houses were flooded and it is impossible to return there. So we will need to calculate this very carefully and make use of the reserves we have within the region. In some places, it is impossible to run the school process normally by September 1, but in some areas, we have reserves where we could already resettle people. We need to think this through with municipal leaders and we absolutely must carry it out. If you need support in this respect, please list out the details and tell me about it.
Now, regarding roads and bridges – a very important matter. Have you had any federal officials or members of federal road services come here?
Reply: Yes, the deputy transport minister visited.
Vladimir Putin: And what did he do? He came, he talked and he left. Today, I told the Minister: a team should come here, to travel onsite and truly assess the local needs and see what must be repaired, and where.
I want to repeat again, and I want to draw your attention to this: as far as the infrastructure is concerned, especially the roads, the region’s territory is colossal; it is very clearly underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure. And naturally, we would like to build many roads now. But we need to repair everything we already have. I repeat, we must rebuild everything, preferably at a better level of quality, but we must rebuild the infrastructure we already had, rather than using the situation to build something new for tens or hundreds of kilometres. This would simply be impossible. We would drown in this work; we would be unable to restore the old or create new infrastructure. But, of course, it would be preferable to rebuild the old infrastructure at a higher level of quality (and I will tell the Minister that this is what we must strive for). This infrastructure must be excellent.
And finally, concerning elderly individuals, especially those living alone. We should not return them to the state they were in before. The governor needs to think about it, and this should be resolved on a regional level. We must create normal conditions for them, if there are any such cases, which I’m certain there are.
I have already spoken about financing protective structures.
We will consider funding for municipalities to acquire equipment. I think in this case, it can be done. Let me remind you that the money allotted from the federal budget in order for municipalities to acquire equipment was part of anti-crisis measures, to help the municipalities and support our engineers. We gave them money, they kept their jobs and production, and you received equipment.
But in this case, given the scale of the disaster, the scale of the flooding we are now experiencing, this, too, is a kind of crisis. We can and should think about it. I will give corresponding instructions to the Government; we will calculate a rough estimate to see how much equipment will be needed, how much money, what kind of equipment and so on. We just need to ensure that we avoid a situation wherein money is provided, you use the equipment to clean up your town, and then you don’t know what to do with it. We need to buy the kind of equipment that you will use in the future.
I already spoke about building new housing or acquiring housing on the market. As I understand, this is possible in Amur Region, where some facilities are almost ready. And this should be done for people who want to take advantage of new housing, perhaps even in a new location, but remain within the region.
But here is another point I would like to make. I do not want to talk about it, but I need to, I am obligated to say it. Assistance, including for housing, new housing, must only be provided to people who truly suffered and who need it – not relatives or good, close friends and acquaintances of bosses of various ranking. Unfortunately, we have seen such cases in similar situations in the past. I hope the local prosecutor’s office will also play a positive role, because that is their job – to monitor the resolution of these types of issues.
Finally, regarding the way that communication with citizens is organised. I must say that the enormous scale of work that you have done deserves respect and gratitude, and I want to express my words of gratitude for the work that you have conducted. However, there are also certain glitches and you need to know about them and assess the situation realistically.
Of course, glitches are inevitable. The disaster has shaken a large number of people, dozens and hundreds of thousands of people. So glitches are a possibility, but we need to react to them quickly; we need your colleagues and your field services to work very swiftly, ensuring there is no red tape involved, to avoid any instances where people make phone calls and are told some sort of nonsense (if anyone even answers the phone at all). I want to point out that this does happen, including in your region. So the various forms of bureaucracy and bureaucratic nonsense must be reduced to zero; they should be eliminated completely.
As for the main rumour-mongers or the people you find most inconvenient, those are precisely the people you need right now, because they are the ones who see what is happening and becoming indignant. They need to serve as your pillars. So when you are organising this work, especially when assessing the damage, which is exceedingly important, you need people to see that this work is transparent, and to do that, they need to be involved for themselves.
If you have any public structures, you should use them, and if not, you should create them, so that you are working with public committees which can see what is being done and how with their own eyes; they should be able to see how this assistance is being distributed, to whom it is going and the quality of the services and assistance being provided to citizens.
As far as the elections are concerned, I agree with the people who said the elections should not be cancelled. The results of the elections will be the best assessment of your work.
I wish you success. Thank you very much.