Vladimir Putin: The Novorossiisk complex is very important for our country’s economy. It is a major transport hub in Russia. From here begin the shortest sea routes that link us with trade partners in Europe and other regions of the world. It is a mainstay of the economy of the Krasnodar Region and of the city.
As we were visiting the port the governor shared his thoughts on the economic interaction with the port. But I think these are technical matters. As the economy becomes more mature, many issues will be closed, including the issues of taxes.
One should first of all note the amount of cargoes handled by Russia’s southern gate. As the head of the port said last year alone the amount of cargo turnover increased by a third.
I would like to stress that optimising the transportation process and making it more effective are extremely important for integrating our economy into the world economy. Important international transport corridors, such as North-South, pass through the south of Russia. We discussed it with the Transport Ministry many times and the Ministry is keeping this project under review.
If Russian stretches of the route are to be competitive they must possess modern and convenient infrastructure and the service must meet the highest quality standards.
What we have seen in the port is of course not bad: you are getting new equipment, environmental standards are complied with, especially in the area where petroleum products and oil are handled. Very good standards and I hope that they will be maintained. That is very important.
As regards the service, you understand very well that without good service there will be no clients and we will lose out in competition with our partners and friends in Ukraine, the Baltic states and other countries. I would not claim that this is the key issue, but it seems to me that the modernisation of the transport hub itself is a priority in terms of the development of the Novorossiisk port. Today we have seen the latest and highly efficient equipment, the introduction of new information technologies, and of course all this must go on. I was very glad to hear that the port cooperates with various Russian enterprises, and stimulates the production of domestic equipment that meets the highest standards. This is very important. Second, discrepancies must be eliminated between the development of the port capacity and rail and road transport. We discussed it when we looked at the water surface in the port. I think we will have something to tell the Minister of Railways and Sergei Frank about motorways.
Clearly, the port is the key element of that hub, but it will be immobilised if we do not develop the surrounding infrastructure and do not pursue a balanced economic policy. As the head of the port said, he would like to be able to service many more vessels if the tariff policy were a little different. I am not saying that it should be changed today or tomorrow. I am simply urging you to pursue a balanced tariff policy.
The handling capacity of the railway transport is still lagging way behind the handling capacity of the seaports. And the situation is compounded by unsatisfactory roads leading to the ports. That makes this transport route much less attractive economically. I would like to hear what department heads think about it today.
Thirdly, serious work is needed to attract both domestic and foreign investment to the transportation complex. This is necessary for an early renewal of the infrastructure and for enhancing the technical potential of the transport hub.
There are other problems as well. I have mentioned only what lies on the surface and I have mentioned it in passing, but I repeat, I would like first of all to hear your opinion and to hear what you consider to be the priorities for the development of the Novorossiisk transport hub. And to formulate it not only orally, but in the shape of a programme for the development of transport and the transport hubs in the south of the country.