The discussion covered a broad range of issues linked with the region’s economic development. Vladimir Putin noted that the region is one of the national leaders. Its GRP increased by over 10 percent last year, with industrial production also on the rise. Agriculture went up by over 9 percent despite tough climate conditions, and the construction sector grew by 60 percent. The President emphasised that there are still issues that require more attention, such as the large amount of dilapidated housing and environmental problems.
The Governor started his report with a coronavirus update. He said the healthcare system is generally coping. Everything necessary, such as medications and protective gear, is available. The region ranks first in testing. Two infectious disease hospitals were built in Novy Urengoi and Salekhard based on the Defence Ministry’s designs. Mobile diagnostic centres based on the Kamaz truck are available for remote areas. People can receive a full screening there: ECG, fluorography and whatever else is required.
As for economic figures, all the region’s indicators are in the black for energy, the main economic sector: production of gas, oil and gas condensate. Industrial production has increased by 17 percent, while investment exceeds a trillion rubles. This affects the social indicators. The region is in the lead in key areas. It has low poverty and unemployment rates and high revenues. All this is very important for demographics. The region comes one of the first in Russia in natural population increase.
The Governor told the President how he managed to reduce infant mortality to the national average and how the region launched a pilot project last year, offering free prenatal genetic tests to all those who needed them. Vladimir Putin said that this practice is very important, and that all Russian regions should follow this example.
The discussion also touched upon the progress of the national renovation projects focusing on relocation from dilapidated housing, creating a comfortable urban environment, construction of kindergartens and schools, as well as the opening of an airport in Novy Urengoi this year.
Dmitry Artyukhov reported an increase in the populations of the indigenous peoples of the North and those who are involved in traditional communities. Reindeer breeding – one of the traditional trades – is showing an upward trend.
The governor also spoke about the Snezhinka research station in the Arctic, which is a joint project with the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. There is progress in designing the unmanned postal delivery system and the use of drones at gas production fields.
Dmitry Artyukhov also spoke about the wages of public sector employees in the Arctic. After reaching a certain service record, they become eligible for “northern” wage premiums. Many organisations are experiencing a shortage of workers. There would be more flexibility in resolving this issue if northern wage premiums were paid to workers from day one.
The governor explained that the northern wage premiums are accumulated and can reach 80 percent. But young professionals receive zero unless they have lived in the North for a certain period of time. The governor believes that this may be an impediment for younger professionals to move to the North, be it law enforcement, security, tax or other specialists in under-staffed sectors and industries. Resolving this problem could help reinforce federal agency work staff.
Vladimir Putin found this proposal fair and promised to instruct the Government to make appropriate proposals as soon as possible.