President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Savchenko, I have the usual questions for you. Let’s discuss the situation in the region. If you want to add any other matters, please, go ahead.
Governor of Belgorod Region Yevgeny Savchenko: Mr President, the situation in the region is positive and our economy is growing steadily. We ended the year with a 4-percent increase in the industrial sector.
Vladimir Putin: In industry. And what about the gross regional product?
Yevgeny Savchenko: It is around 3.5 percent, slightly less.
Industrial growth increased during the first quarter of this year and now comes to 5 percent.
Agriculture performed particularly well. We feed 15 million people. We have 1.5 million people, but we feed 15 million. If you take the agriculture sector, we are in second place for gross output and value after the Krasnodar Territory.
We offer an excellent investment climate. Around 50 investment projects for a total of more than 100 billion rubles are in various stages of implementation today. A big project to produce briquetted iron at [mining company] Lebedinsky GOK is close to completion. In other words, they are transforming iron ore into briquettes containing 95 percent iron. This is a unique project in which the investors have invested close to 40 billion rubles. What makes the project unique is that this is the biggest such facility in the world. This is highly innovative production and a highly competitive product.
Regarding the current situation, the sowing campaign went well. The weather was very favourable. We see only promising prospects ahead.
The social sector, healthcare and education are quite stable. We are currently carrying out an interesting project in the healthcare sector, Managing Health, which is about concentrating attention on primary healthcare and raising the status of family doctors.
Over this year, we plan to repair, rebuild or restore around 1,000 medical facilities and fully resolve the problem with access to medical aid in the countryside, which is home to 40 percent of our population.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Savchenko, your mandate is due to expire soon.
Yevgeny Savchenko: Yes, this mandate will expire in September.
Vladimir Putin: What are your plans?
Yevgeny Savchenko: Mr President, if you give such permission, I am ready to continue my work.
Vladimir Putin: You are an experienced and effective regional head and I would be happy to give you my support. The question is how we should proceed in the legal sense. When does your mandate expire?
Yevgeny Savchenko: In October, but the election is in September.
Vladimir Putin: Then there are no obstacles. The main thing is the substance of the matter, and the substance is to work well. As for how to organise the legal and technical side of things, we will settle that together.
Yevgeny Savchenko: Thank you. In this case, I will run in the election, and I think the population will support me. I will continue working as well as I am now.
Vladimir Putin: Better.