President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ravil Faritovich, we will be having a meeting today regarding the socio-economic development of the Trans-Baikal Region – a new subject of the Russian Federation, a large subject, and naturally, a subject that has all the merits as well as many of the problems that are inherent to our country.
We must pay particular attention to problems relating to the financial challenges which have become more complicated for our country today and relate to current social problems, because there are many instances of people losing their jobs.
In order to mitigate these kinds of problems, you and I have agreed to deal with issues of providing people with jobs, creating new jobs, including in small businesses. In order to resolve large-scale problems, it is imperative to also develop major infrastructure projects, which is something else that we have been giving attention to.
You have some good projects underway. Today, of course, our challenge is to try to finish what we have started and to prepare for new projects, even in this context of hardship in the financial sector.
So let us talk now about the problems to be discussed at our meeting, and we will be able to look at other additional decrees and separate matters together with our other colleagues at the meeting.
Governor of Trans-Baikal Region Ravil Geniatulin: Dmitry Anatolyevich, thank you very much for finding the time in your very busy schedule to come to our region, this central region between the Far East, Siberia, and Trans-Baikal Region.
We have indeed done a lot, but a lot still remains to be done in order to resolve socio-economic problems. You very rightly noticed that we are a new federal subject, and I would like to inform you with great satisfaction that just two days ago, we had an event that is probably very important: even before the end of our transition period, we have approved the Charter of our Region.
Dmitry Medvedev: You can work on a legal basis, congratulations.
Ravil Geniatulin: Beginning on March 1, the Charter will go into effect.
We do indeed have major infrastructure projects. The implementation of one of them, for example, involves the development of the south-eastern part of our Region. There, we are constructing a railroad with the help of the National Investment Fund, and we will also be constructing five very large integrated plants (today, we have already called on an additional three thousand workers). Furthermore, we will have about an equal number of jobs at related enterprises, so in this situation, this project is extremely important for us.
Our territory is truly very rich in mineral resources, but they are difficult to tap, because in order to do so, we need funding, people, and effective investors. Nevertheless, we are conducting this work.
(Next, Ravil Geniatulin talked about what is being done in the Region to support small businesses and the rural population.)
As for today’s situation, we are not too worried about large-scale layoffs. Currently, we have fewer than 20 thousand out of work; whereas before the crisis the number of unemployment stood at around 13–14 thousand. We are aware of the businesses that may undergo difficult times, and we are working to prevent possible problems. We have done everything that we should, and we are carefully monitoring the experience of our neighbours and other regions, as well as recommendations from the federal center. I have the right to talk about this because I was governor during the 1998 crisis, and I remember that time. And we have perhaps even done a few things in advance to prevent possible negative developments.
Dmitry Medvedev: That is good, especially given that, compared to 1998, we had a starting situation, a pre-crisis situation, that was significantly better, because over the last several years, we have been able to lay a good foundation of social development, the normal functioning of the banking system, and the normal operation of our businesses. Of course, a crisis always generates problems, but this is already a fundamentally different situation, and we must do everything to ensure that the social standards created for our people in recent years do not worsen.
Ravil Geniatulin: Yes, I completely agree with you, especially given that we have been progressing at a very good rate, particularly in the last two or three years. I am very grateful for the national project [on healthcare], because this sphere received not only good funding, but also a lot of cars, medical equipment, and computers. The people have felt that there is a serious payoff. We are currently working on five very large medical facilities. Despite all the difficulties, we will be doing everything possible to finish building them, because they are very much needed in order to improve the demographic situation.
I would like to inform you (this is very important for me and for all of us) that this is the second year in a row that we see a positive trend in birth rate – this year the birthrate is higher by 1700 people than last year.
Dmitry Medvedev: It is really great that you are growing in this way. Unfortunately, there are problems with migration outflows, so the balance is still in the negative. But the fact that you have this increase in births is, at the very least, an indicator that our people, who live in the Trans-Baikal Region, see prospects, see a future, because it is clear that to have children is to look toward the future.
I have just awarded a certificate in the Pension Fund. This is a new document certifying the fact that money from the maternity (family) capital has been spent to pay off a mortgage. We have specifically created this opportunity this year in order to support people, on the one hand, and to help our construction industry, on the other, so that it does not stop and so that we can complete all of our housing projects. So this is an indicative event. I hope that we will issue as many such certificates as possible.
Ravil Geniatulin: I know that there have already been over one thousand requests, and some of them have already been processed.
Dmitry Medvedev: Overall, there are about 10 thousand women in this region who are eligible for maternity (family) capital.