OREANDA-NEWS. February 21, 2011. Mr Putin and Mr Berdnikov discussed the republic’s performance in 2010 and its plans for 2011, highlighting programmes to modernise the healthcare system and reduce unemployment. Berdnikov claimed that he had already witnessed the programmes' positive influence on the region.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Berdnikov, can you tell me about the republic’s performance in 2010 and its plans for 2011?

Alexander Berdnikov: The situation in the republic is stable. There have so far been no malfunctions during the heat deficit winter season, although temperatures this year are abnormally low, reaching minus 40 degrees Celsius.

Vladimir Putin: That's cold.

Alexander Berdnikov: Yes, it is really cold. But housing and the utilities industry have been working without a hitch because we were properly prepared (for the season). The farms have managed to prevent a decrease in livestock despite heavy snow and severe frost, something which was noted at a meeting of the Agriculture Ministry. The past year’s growth was quite good in nearly all industries. Overall, investment in fixed assets and investment volumes have greatly improved in the Siberian Federal District over the past few years.

Three years ago, budget funds accounted for 70% of investment and private capital for 30%, but the ratio has since been reversed. Sistema and other large Russian companies are active in the region. All put together, these factors help us create new jobs. Nominal and real wages have doubled in the past four years. There are many unresolved problems, but we are working to solve them and to fulfil all of your instructions. The programme for connecting new clients to the gas network is proceeding at a fast pace in the republic in cooperation with Gazprom. We are modernising our airport. We are inviting you to the opening ceremony, which we think will be held in September. We also plan to commission the Manzherok mountain ski resort soon.

Vladimir Putin: How long will the landing strip be?

Alexander Berdnikov: It will be 2,300 metres, which is sufficient for medium-range planes such as the SuperJet, Yak-42D and Boeing-737. Major air carriers plan to use the airport, for example, Sibir (S7). This is how I think the republic will develop.

Vladimir Putin: Has your healthcare modernisation programme been approved?

Alexander Berdnikov: Yes, it has been approved at over 700 million roubles, which is quite good. We received only 550 million under the federal healthcare development programme, compared with which 700 million roubles is very good money. This year we intend to reconstruct and build three regional hospitals.

Vladimir Putin: Where?

Alexander Berdnikov:  In the Ongudai, Shebalino, and Kosh-Agach districts.

Vladimir Putin: How many patients can they receive?

Alexander Berdnikov: The hospital in the Shebalino district will have 95 beds, which is sufficient. The only problem is that we need to train more specialists because people are wary of working in the mountains. The living conditions are grim there, but we are trying to build more housing…

Vladimir Putin: How are you doing in that regard?

Alexander Berdnikov: We have gathered good speed: 60,000 square metres of housing were commissioned last year, which is a lot for the republic. As for this year, I have told Mr Basargin (Viktor Basargin, Minister of Regional Development) that we will commission 70,000 square meters of housing in 2011.

Vladimir Putin: Is that much more than in previous years?

Alexander Berdnikov: Well, it’s not twice as much, but 35% to 40% more. We are progressing quite well in this sphere.

Vladimir Putin: Faster than you planned?

Alexander Berdnikov:  Yes, faster than we planned.

Vladimir Putin: That's good. Have you received the transfers for the programme to fight unemployment?

Alexander Berdnikov: Yes, we have. We are working jointly with the Federal Service for Labour and Employment and have signed a relevant agreement. There are no problems in this area, although unemployment is quite high in the republic. It ranks 10th (nationally), which is bad, but we have cut unemployment as compared to the pre-crisis period. It is almost 50% lower than three or four years ago.

The projects we are currently implementing, including Manzherok, the Altai Valley tourism and leisure area, the airport, and other projects, create new jobs. We also have seasonal jobs. Last year we had 1.2 million tourists. Tourism has a positive effect on the countryside because one job in the tourist business creates two to four new jobs.

Vladimir Putin: In other words, these programmes are having a positive effect.

Alexander Berdnikov: Absolutely. The situation will further improve over the next three to four years.

Vladimir Putin: Good.