Vladimir Solodov reported that the region has mobilised all its resources to fight the coronavirus by preparing 816 beds in seven hospitals, while the Healthcare Ministry initially asked for only 156 beds, with piped oxygen and all the necessary equipment. The number of tests increased 20-fold over a period of two weeks. This allowed the region to turn the tide in the fight against the epidemic. The region benefited from the support of the Healthcare Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, and the Moscow Government that helped with equipment and doctors.
According to Mr Solodov, the virus exposed the disastrous state of the Kamchatka Territory’s healthcare system, especially its decrepit infrastructure. Launched in 2013, the construction of a regional hospital was frozen in 2019 due to the lack of funding. In addition, Kamchatka has only 50 percent of the doctors it needs. The region initiated a programme to offer incentives to medical workers, and prepared a special training programme in cooperation with Pacific State Medical University.
In response to the request to support the construction of a regional hospital, the President promised to give instructions to the Government to work together with the region on the project and adopt a resolution to this effect.
Mr Solodov mentioned gas supply which is the most important question for the economic development, investment projects and the quality of life. The programme to connect consumers in the Kamchatka Territory to natural gas distribution networks was launched in 2007 in keeping with the Presidential instructions. The basic gas distribution infrastructure has been built, but gas output has yet to reach the projected scale. The region worked with the Energy Ministry to offset the shortage in natural gas with LNG as part of the Maritime Trans-Shipment Terminal, a major investment project carried out by NOVATEK. A feasibility study for the construction of a floating regasification station has been completed. The President promised his support on this matter, noting that NOVATEK, as well as Gazprom, the Government and the regional authorities had to contribute as well.
During the meeting, the President also discussed quality of life, specifically access to the internet. Under the Executive Order on the National Development Goals of the Russian Federation, the territory is expected to offer internet access to 97 percent of its population by 2030. However, this goal hit an unexpected stumbling block in the form of underdeveloped infrastructure: 22,000 people in 52 localities can access the internet only via satellite. Mr Solodov set out his proposals on resolving this question, and also received support from the President.
Another matter Vladimir Solodov discussed was the two dates marked this year – the 280th anniversary of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the 75th anniversary of the successful Kuril Landing Operation (August 15 – September 1, 1945). This was the last Soviet army offensive in World War II. The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on September 2, 1945. The Soviet operation was launched from the Kamchatka Territory. The Acting Governor pointed out the need to establish a full-fledged museum of military glory in Kamchatka, which would reflect all the historical battles that happened in the region. Vladimir Putin agreed that it was a good idea, and that the federal authorities should be involved in the project.
The President pointed out that there are many positive trends in the region’s development, but there are also problems that need to be addressed, such as a construction slowdown and declining population, caused, among other things, by low real incomes and high prices. Vladimir Putin suggested taking a closer look at the latter problem together with the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.
The President also mentioned the regional budget deficit and a rather low level of financial self-sufficiency. These problems also need to be addressed.
At the same time, Vladimir Putin noted good trends in the local economy – its gross regional product growth rate is much higher than the national average, the industrial production is growing at a good pace, and agricultural output has increased significantly. Foreign trade and retail trade are on the rise, investment trends are generally good, and the unemployment rate is quite low.
The most important thing, according to the President, is that the region is implementing a whole range of good investment projects in various sectors including transport and industrial production. Therefore, while relying on the positive trends, it is necessary to eliminate the problems Kamchatka is still struggling with, and move forward while keeping in mind the long-term plans for the development of this wonderful, rich and beautiful region of Russia.
Vladimir Putin wished Vladimir Solodov success and promised to give relevant instructions to the Government on all the matters raised during the meeting.