Beginning of Working Meeting with Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy in the Volga Federal District Grigory Rapota 2008-07-21 18:56:00 Gorki, Moscow Region President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Grigory Alexeyevich, in accordance with my Decree, you were recently appointed to the post of plenipotentiary envoy in the Volga Federal District. I would like to hear your overall assessment of the situation in the district, including as concerns food security, which is an especially relevant issue today. What is the situation in agriculture, what kind of harvest can we expect, and what is the social situation like, including with respect to implementation of the national projects? Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy In the Volga Federal District Grigory Rapota: Dmitry Anatolyevich, over my time in my new post so far I have visited all the district’s regions and held meetings with the governments, legislative and executive authorities in each region, and the overall picture is the following. The social situation is stable. The economy shows stable positive growth. This is particularly visible in the construction industry and in a number of agricultural sectors, especially in poultry, dairy production, meat production, cereals and so on. There have also been noticeable improvements in housing construction, education and healthcare. There is a general growth trend. Of course, there are also problems still unresolved. But it is particularly good to see that production in the high-technology sector is livening up. This is probably the most promising trend offering good prospects for the future. As far as the food situation goes, there are problems. The biggest problem is that prices are still rising, through not as fast as at the end of last year or the start of this year. A number of measures have been taken – entirely market-based measures – to resolve this problem. One solution has been to conduct as much trade in cereals as possible on exchanges. This makes the prices more transparent and predictable and insures against sudden jumps in food prices. There are problems with mineral fertilisers, with price formation, and there are problems with fuel and lubricants, but here it’s the Government who is taking the necessary measures now. The construction industry is showing very stable growth. A total of 4.6 million square metres was completed over the first half of the year, and individual housing accounts for around 60 percent of this. There is a lot of new construction technology on the market now, including methods making it possible to build relatively cheap housing within a price range of 15,000–18,000 roubles per square metre. This is a promising solution for young families’ housing needs and for developing mortgage-financed construction, issues which high prices made it hard to resolve. Mortgage-financed construction is developing actively. Around 70 percent of the total volume of mortgage loans planned for this year has already been accorded. We are seeing good growth in this area. This more or less sums up the situation. Dmitry Medvedev: As far the food situation goes, we need to do everything we can. I hope that in your work with the regions you will keep in mind that we need to get the harvest planned for this year and have it safely stored, in light of the current problems on the world food market, and in order to make progress in resolving our own food problems. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in your district, and this includes plants and cereals production. So, these are issues that need to be dealt with on an ongoing basis. As for the stable growth in construction, this is good to see. It shows that despite all the difficulties on the credit market resulting from the world financial crisis, the mortgage scheme is working, and the figures you give confirm this, confirm that our people are taking out mortgages to buy housing. But as you know yourself, the situation varies of course from one region to another. Housing construction is growing very fast in Tatarstan, for example, but there are other regions where the situation is more complicated. Our task therefore is also to understand these differences and lessen the gap by boosting construction capacity and increasing housing construction in the regions where it is still insufficient at the moment. I think this is what we will be working on over the coming year.