President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
As agreed, and we have long planned to hold this meeting to discuss the socioeconomic development of Crimea and Sevastopol, we will discuss today the issues that are facing the region’s leadership as well as federal ministries and departments.
I would like to note that much has been done in the past few years to unlock the potential of Crimea and Sevastopol and integrate them into Russia’s common social, legal, economic and humanitarian space.
The creation and expansion of the basic infrastructure has become an important and largely decisive factor in this respect. Obviously this is the main thing, a foundation without which it is impossible to develop altogether. Needless to say, this is the most expensive part.
A lot has been done but not everything. It is still necessary to work on water supply and water discharge and resolve environmental issues that nobody seems to have dealt with at all.
But what has been done – the Crimean Bridge, energy networks, gas supply, federal roads and the airport – represents just the basic conditions for development. This should be followed by results.
Naturally, these projects have provided a serious impetus for business and social activities (the projects that we have already implemented). They have enhanced the tourist appeal of the region and allowed us to create new jobs and open up more business and investment opportunities.
For reference, I would like to mention that industrial production in Crimea has almost doubled, and it has increased by 2.5 times in Sevastopol. Retail trade has grown 12 percent in Crimea and by an impressive 29 percent in Sevastopol. The unemployment rate in the Republic of Crimea has decreased from 7.2 percent (in 2015) to 5.5 percent at the end of 2019. In Sevastopol it has dropped from 8.3 percent to 4.1 percent. This became possible because a number of companies resumed operations and were loaded with orders, including orders from federal ministries and departments.
In 2019, 7,4 million tourists visited Crimea, which is a 9.3 percent increase over 2018. More than half of them (57 percent) arrived via the Crimean Bridge.
Relying on this foundation it is necessary to improve the quality of life on the peninsula and develop its urban and social infrastructure in line with the highest and most advanced standards.
Understandably, everyone is happy about these major infrastructure projects. They are creating this foundation and this is perfectly obvious. However, now I would like to talk for the most part not just about tourists but about people who live in Crimea and Sevastopol. Let’s talk about this today and focus on what needs to be done for the permanent residents. It is essential to clearly understand local people’s needs in order to meet them promptly and make decisions faster. Long overdue problems must be resolved.
What are the issues, in my opinion, that we need to focus on and pay attention to.
First, we need to further improve the quality of life for Sevastopol and Crimea residents. I mean the most obvious, pressing problems that people have to deal with every year, in fact, every day of their lives. This includes the renovation of residential buildings, reconstruction of utility mains, improvement of surrounding grounds and public spaces, like parks, public gardens and embankments.
As I said, this includes all areas, not just resorts and tourist zones. We need to conduct a detailed inventory of Crimea’s urban environment, to evaluate its current state and to improve its quality; this includes using the resources of national projects.
Second, upgrading the regional communications systems calls for resolute and well-planned actions.
I am also talking about the construction and renovation of local motorways, railway platforms and stations, modernisation of commuter train rolling stock. Everything that the region’s residents use every day.
As I said, we have set high standards for building Crimea’s trunk infrastructure, so we need to take the regional component to the same level.
Third, the normalisation of prices for basic goods, like food, fuel and construction materials; this is a big problem that people talk about.
I would like to note that the start of regular railway service should positively influence supplies to the Crimean market and the availability of high-quality and affordable goods. Of course, I am especially counting on this after regular freight traffic starts. Mr Ditrikh, when will the first cargo trains arrive?
Yevgeny Ditrikh: Mr President, service will start on July 1.
Vladimir Putin: July 1. Freight trains will start carrying goods on a regular basis on July 1.
We must see to it that the level of consumer prices measures up to the income levels of Sevastopol and Crimea residents. The regional authorities must work closely with business circles to expand logistics, prevent monopolism, support competition and open new trade facilities. Colleagues, I am asking you to do this quickly, without administrative delays and to basically use mechanisms that will, first of all, suit people, and that will, of course, prove cost-effective for the business community.
Fourth, the state of the regional healthcare system requires a lot of attention. Yes, the scale of this is enormous. This sector is simply in a terrible state. There is a shortage of specialists. The hospitals, clinics and equipment are rundown and substandard. When we talk about the same problems nationally, well, the situation here is worse than in the rest of Russia.
Not all questions regarding the licensing of medical activity have been resolved. This has created a disproportion in favour of private healthcare. We need to eliminate this disproportion and guarantee high-quality medical treatment in line with accepted national standards for every resident of Crimea and Sevastopol. I ask you to address this subject specifically today and come up with concrete proposals on ways to improve the situation in healthcare.
All right, let’s get down to it. First, we will hear a report by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. Please.