Officials from federal ministries and agencies and representatives of the region’s business, industry and public organisations took part in the meeting.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends and colleagues.
Today’s meeting looks to have brought together a rather variegated group, if I may say, but it was precisely with such a diverse group of people representing different economic sectors, different industries, that I wanted to speak today, and above all listen to what you have to say and discuss the region’s problems together with my Government colleagues.
Arkhangelsk after all is a part of Russia with a long history of settlement, an old part of the country, but nevertheless people are leaving the region, unemployment is higher than the national average, and even child mortality is higher than on average in the country. And there are reasons for this. We all know that economic growth has slowed down, but it is not the slowdown that is to blame here. Unlike in other regions, despite the slowdown in growth, the economy here is developing, and developing quite well. Indeed, in some sectors there look to be very good prospects ahead. The problem is not even really one of slower growth rates, because quality is gradually improving even though growth has slowed down.
So I want to hear from you, the people working here in Arkhangelsk and in the region, about the problems that are stopping this particular region from growing faster and developing better conditions for people’s lives so as to stabilise the labour market situation and give people higher incomes. It would be good to reach the level that we saw just before at Mr Alekperov’s new company. He complained that he invested more than a billion in the venture, and there is no return as yet, no sales, but the outlook is clearly good, and the company has created 2,000 jobs. ALROSA nearby offers another 2,000 jobs, also well-paid ones – engineers and mid-level management earn 50,000–60,000 rubles a month on average. There are other companies working here too, traditionally in the forestry and fisheries sectors, and the region offers much more besides.
Let’s take some time to discuss all of this now. I simply want to hear what you have to say, and I want my colleagues and friends from the Government and the Presidential Executive Office to listen, so that we can all reflect together on what we need to do in this region in order to change things for the better.