Before the meeting, the President made a helicopter flight over the regions affected by the fires in Khakassia and saw how the rebuilding work is proceeding.
In the village of Ust-Byur, Mr Putin inspected housing under construction for the region’s residents who lost their homes in the fires.
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Speech at meeting on disaster relief measures following wildfires in the Republic of Khakassia and Trans-Baikal Territory
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
As we agreed, we are meeting here on site to discuss the reconstruction work in the Republic of Khakassia and Trans-Baikal Territory following the large-scale wildfires that hit these regions in April this year.
We visited Khakassia two months ago to assess the situation and plan our priorities for rebuilding housing and infrastructure and providing assistance to local residents. Today, we need to discuss in detail this work’s organisation and look above all at what is happening with resettling people and organising monetary compensation for them. In this respect, let me say right at the start that there have been some problems here.
According to our information, fewer than half of the people entitled have so far received financial compensation for their lost property. I was speaking just before with [Head of the Republic of Khakassia] Mr Zimin, and he said that positive changes are underway in this area, but even so, there are still problems that must be resolved. Let’s take stock of the situation and discuss in detail what has and has not been done.
There are also delays with the one-off financial assistance payments. Let me remind you that the Government’s reserve fund for prevention and relief of emergency situations and natural disasters allocated 703.7 million rubles for financial compensation payments in Khakassia, and 90.3 million rubles for payments in Trans-Baikal Territory.
According to my information, as of June 23, one-off financial assistance payments had been made to 3,975 people (60.1 percent of the total) in Khakassia, and to all 100 percent of the people entitled in Trans-Baikal Territory. Financial assistance payments for partial loss of property were made to 144 people in Khakassia (only 18.4 percent of the total) and to 63 people in Trans-Baikal Territory (100 percent of the total). Financial compensation for complete loss of property was paid to 2,877 people in Khakassia (49.4 percent of the total), and to 71.7 percent of the total entitled in Trans-Baikal Territory.
One-off payments to families of victims in Khakassia were made to 16 people (80 percent of the total), and to everyone entitled in Trans-Baikal Territory, where, fortunately, the death toll was lower – four people lost their lives.
The delays in payments in Khakassia are due to the lack of documents confirming registration and residency in the disaster area. The claims are being examined, but with delays. I discussed this matter this morning with the President of the Supreme Court, and he promised to help his colleagues here in the regions. I hope that things will move faster and these problems will be resolved rapidly.
Let’s discuss the situation with housing repair and construction. According to the information as of June 23, construction work was underway at 775 sites. As far as the other sites go, the regional authorities are still working on the documentation and approvals or are awaiting the verdicts of court decisions. Construction is behind schedule at 83 sites. The regional authorities have taken measures to replace subcontractors who fail to comply with construction deadlines. Work is underway at all planned sites in Trans-Baikal Territory. There too, we see some problems with keeping to schedule.
We had a chance to talk with people before, and Mr Zimin was present too, and we heard that in some towns, work has hardly even begun yet. This is what people are saying, anyway. This needs to be checked, and I ask Mr Zimin to travel to the places concerned. I realise that there is a lot of work to do, but it has to be done, and you must go to the actual sites and see what is going on there.
We all know the construction deadlines. Comfortable new homes must be ready for people to move into by September 1 this year. I spoke with the subcontractors, and they say it would be possible to complete the work slightly earlier. This would be a good thing because it would give people time to look over the new homes and sort out the inevitable little problems while the builders are still present at the sites. It is all the more important here, in Siberia, to do all of this before the winter cold arrives.
I ask the local and regional authorities to show the utmost responsibility and organisation in this work. This includes deciding on the exact amount of construction work, speeding up the preparation of the project documents and estimates, and organising strict quality control of the housing built. Where necessary, you also need to organise consultations for people to help them with getting documents ready and preparing their claims. It is important to examine each concrete case and be sensitive to people’s needs, especially in the cases of the most vulnerable population groups, such as families with three or more children and foster families.
We spoke just before with people in the street outside the houses. Additional decisions are needed regarding families with three or more children and foster families. I discussed this with the Prime Minister today, too. We will need to make amendments to the Government resolution that was issued in April. These amendments will concern, first of all, foster families. The right to receive additional square metres of living space without establishing property rights must be extended to this group too, so that these children, when they reach the legal age, do not lose the right to obtain housing of their own.
As for large families, the Government resolution provides for maximum total living space of 72 square metres, and this is not enough. We need to make it possible to extend this limit for large families. I spoke with the Finance Minister today, and the Finance Ministry supports this proposal.
Total additional financing for the needs of both of these population groups comes to slightly more than 200 million rubles.
Work on rebuilding social facilities and transport infrastructure must proceed at the same time as housing construction. You cannot put it off until later. When they move into their new homes, people must also have access to hospitals, schools, kindergartens and good roads.
We will also discuss support measures and assistance for farmers and owners of smallholdings that suffered in the fires. One of the local people came over before, a private entrepreneur. I want to point out that the Government resolution and the minutes of the meeting held by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak state the need to provide assistance to small and medium-business owners and individual entrepreneurs. If individual entrepreneurs are not covered by the provisions, they must be added. The money involved is not a large sum for the country or the region, but it is a serious matter for the people concerned. For a start, they are not aware that the authorities are offering this assistance, and second, if this assistance is offered, it must be properly organised. The federal budget has allocated 116 million rubles for these needs in Khakassia and Trans-Baikal Territory. Let’s discuss this matter in more detail too.
I also want to draw your attention once more to the need to improve fire prevention measures and bolster officials’ personal responsibility for compliance with fire safety rules and organising evacuation. We also need to be more active about developing the voluntary housing insurance system, make it more transparent and easier for people to understand, and explain the system’s benefits. This is something we have discussed many times, including in Krasnodar Territory, where Mr Tkachev worked actively on it when he was the Governor there.
(Addressing Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev) There are problems in Sochi right now too. I spoke this morning with your successor, the Acting Governor [of Krasnodar Territory], and with the Emergency Situations Minister. More than 200 homes in Sochi were damaged [by flash floods]. If additional help is needed, including at the federal level, we will provide it, of course. A thorough assessment needs to be made of the situation now. I note for you in your capacity as [agriculture] minister, that some agriculture sector businesses have been affected too. We will discuss also how to help the people whose homes were damaged by these floods.
Let’s return to Khakassia now and start discussing the issues that have brought us here today.
Vladimir Putin: It is a good thing that we have met here today because, although the work is underway overall, there are still problems to resolve. I ask you to give these matters your attention. We will note all of this in the meeting’s final minutes.
There are also matters that require additional government regulation and amendments to the Government resolution issued in April this year.
I consider all of the issues settled now and will not repeat them. Let’s meet again to look at the situation in the first half of August.