President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Vyacheslav Evgenievich, this visiting session of the Presidium being held in Vologda is focussing on the development of our correctional system, including the social aspects of this work.
Today social issues, such as the issue of job protection, are all highly relevant in these crisis conditions. I would like you to tell me what you are doing in your region to increase the number of jobs, in order to deal with employment as a whole, and the development of small businesses. In general terms, all that must be done to help us minimise the costs we incur as we pass through the very difficult economic period that our country is currently experiencing.
Governor of Vologda Region Vyacheslav Pozgalyov: Dmitry Anatolyevich, of course, Vologda Region is reliant on export, therefore there is no way what is happening in the world could have passed us by. That is why the regional government has a programme in place which takes account of three important areas. The first is job retention, the second is job creation, and the third is the provision of social support for those who have, in spite of everything, been left without work.
Job protection is the main issue we face today. That’s why we have signed an agreement with businesses in our region, including agrarians, industrialists, trade unions, and the authorities, in which we set out the task – of doing everything we could to avoid making people redundant. In order to do everything we can to make things easier for enterprises, we are helping them with state orders, giving them the means and resources, and bringing the social sphere into the remit of the regional budget.
The most important question is that of the creation of new working places, and here we are pinning our hopes on the development of small business. We have put in place a whole series of measures in order to facilitate the creation of new jobs. To this end we studied the local consumption market, in order to decide what could be done in this region to replace imports. Having studied the marker, we understood that today by no means have all possibilities been explored. That is why we made the decision to lower the tax on small business, to lower the rent payments, to provide grants for new job creation.
Dmitry Medvedev: What about the grants? How big are they?
Vyacheslav Pozgalyov: 300 thousand roubles (around 8,500 dollars) to establish new production. Here’s a concrete example: today we have rolling pins on the shelves, which cost 540 roubles and which were sent to us here from Germany.
Dmitry Medvedev: It looks like that you simply don’t have trees in this region. Clearly it’s impossible to make so complicated an instrument.
Vyacheslav Pozgalyov: It is more likely due to the short-term vision of our economists, who do not understand the internal market’s demands.
Dmitry Medvedev: Not short-term vision, but rather the simple lack of any desire to act on what seemed such trivial concerns, while it was immediately possible to do something on a bigger scale. Instead you need to embrace each segment.
Vyacheslav Pozgalyov: Yes, we were seized by a mania for mega-projects, large scale production. And we ignored everything that was, as they say, right under our noses. That is why today, having studied the market, we have also understood that we are in a position to create lots of jobs. And the main thing is to encourage initiatives from below. So, take the matter of residential construction, we took the decision to set aside 200 cubic metres of wood, free, to anyone who wants it… You know, people are really interested in the opportunity to turn their hand to construction.
Dmitry Medvedev: By the way, how many people are now involved in this project? You have told me about this back when we were working on our national projects.
Vyacheslav Pozgalyov: More than a thousand people have to date expressed interest in this timber. Today our task is to set land aside so that people are able to begin construction quickly, unhindered.
Having realised this series of measures, including those questions of rent payments, and the retraining of people, we calculate that we will create something in the order of 3000 new jobs. Naturally, these are for those who will be made redundant, as well as for those who have come through the correctional system that we have discussed today. The issue of the adaptation of newly released prisoners to society, especially in these crisis conditions, are immensely important for us.
That is why it seems to me that this whole section – the development of small business – must cushion the blow of unemployment due to the crisis.
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s all good, you are going in the right direction.