The President started the meeting by saying that growth in the territory’s agricultural output has been gathering momentum, alongside higher fixed capital investment, while industrial output and construction had decreased slightly, and the share of substandard housing is quite high. In response, the Governor noted that in 2021 industrial output started to recover, which is mostly attributable to fish processing following a very good fishing season.
As for construction, Kamchatka has been struggling with this sector for a while now. The territory has finally succeeded in ending the stalemate on the substandard housing issue and has drafted several comprehensive housing development projects. It raised funds for improving the utility infrastructure through infrastructure loans, and is preparing to build a total of 200,000 square metres of housing. The construction of single-family homes is receiving special attention.
On the coronavirus, the Governor said that the situation has been quite stable in Kamchatka. The Defence Ministry has done a lot to help the territory by deploying an infectious disease hospital, with military personnel stepping in to help the territory during peak periods. Vladimir Solodov also reported on launching the construction of the Kamchatka Regional Hospital, and asked the President for his support in approving allocations for the construction.
The Governor went on to emphasise that improved living standards was a priority for the territory, which managed to prevent a decline in real disposable income during the epidemic. Support measures taken under the President’s instructions, as well as the decision to increase the minimum wage played a special role in this regard. Unemployment remained relatively low as well, and fewer young people left the region, which is another positive development.
Vladimir Putin said the territory needs to install broadband, and Vladimir Solodov replied by noting that the territory’s northern areas will benefit from internet connection as soon as 2023, although the northernmost districts, as well as the Komandorskiye Islands will still have to rely on satellite communications. The Governor pointed out that when asked what they need the most, young people in the northern villages ranked internet first, followed by quicker postal deliveries. The territory intends to carry out a pilot project on using drones for this purpose.
The Governor spoke about the construction of new facilities, in particular, sport centres. One unique facility has already been completed and will open soon – a year-round winter sports centre, where athletes will be able to train right on the Avachinsky volcano, including in summer. This first major ice arena in Kamchatka has been built with private money.
Vladimir Solodov brought up a problem that is common for most regions in the Far East. It has to do with the normative level of the federal government’s co-financing of the national projects in the Far Eastern regions. In particular, according to him, standard projects do not objectively take into account the higher construction costs in regions such as Kamchatka. The President suggested that the Governor should formulate the relevant proposals in writing and send them to him in order to instruct the Government to work on this.
The Governor also raised a number of questions that are very important for Kamchatka Territory. They concern a fair indexation of fees on aquatic biological resources, investment quotas for the construction of fishing vessels and so on.
Vladimir Solodov stressed that the region expected a tangible effect from the Northern Sea Route. Novatek is already implementing the first project for the shipment of liquefied natural gas. Kamchatka is a convenient transshipment point in the east of the country.
The President and the Governor also discussed the construction of roads and air transport, especially in the region. In this regard, the Governor asked for federal subsidies to partially finance such non-alternative routes, as the regional government cannot afford this. The President also asked him to prepare relevant proposals.
The discussion predictably covered tourism, which Vladimir Solodov called the most promising industry. He said Kamchatka was known to the whole world. At present, work is underway in the Valley of Geysers. The region has seen a 60 percent increase in tourist inflow. New tourist facilities are being added. One of them is a falconry centre. Its first stage has already been completed, and the first batch of birds is going to be delivered soon.
The Governor also said that the region was going to host the Ecosystem Nationwide Youth Forum in August, before the Eastern Economic Forum. It will be the first carbon-neutral forum, innovative in many ways. Mr Solodov invited the President to attend it.
Vladimir Putin thanked him for the invitation and said he had not been to Kamchatka for a long time and would be glad to come.