UGRA’S GOVERNOR NATALIA KOMAROVA ANSWERED QUESTIONS OF JOURNALISTS FROM NIZHNEVARTOVSK, NIZHNEVARTOVSK DISTRICT, AND MEGION
UGRA’S GOVERNOR NATALIA KOMAROVA ANSWERED QUESTIONS OF JOURNALISTS FROM NIZHNEVARTOVSK, NIZHNEVARTOVSK DISTRICT, AND MEGION
The verbatim record of the press-conference of the governor following the results of work in Megion, Nizhnevartovsk, and the Nizhnevartovsk District on 13-16 January 2015.
Presenter, TV Samotlor correspondent Anna Lobanova: Good evening. We are starting the press conference of Ugra’s Governor Natalia Vladimirovna Komarova.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: We should remind you that from 13 January to 16 January of the current year the Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra Natalia Komarova has been working in the eastern municipalities, Nizhnevartovsk, Nizhnevartovsk District and Megion. In this time the head of the region held more than ten meetings with residents, representatives of community councils on housing and services, physicians, entrepreneurs, property developers, investors, and elected representatives. A total of over a thousand of people have managed to talk with the governor in person.
Presenter, TV Samotlor correspondent Anna Lobanova: We suggest we should talk with representatives of leading mass media of all three municipalities about the results and impressions of the four days of work.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Good evening, Natalia Vladimirovna. There are over thirty journalists in this audience; they obtained special accreditation for your press conference to be able to ask you questions in person. I, however, will use this opportunity of having the microphone in my hands to ask you the first question. Natalia Vladimirovna, for the first time these meetings have been conducted in a new format. Could you tell us, what is this new format?
Natalia Komarova: Good evening, Anna and Aleksey, colleagues, TV viewers. In their essence these meetings are hard to call a new format. We worked just as before, simply today we made a clear decision on the set of issues important to me as governor, on which I and my colleagues in municipalities work. Why do we do it? To render appropriate level of services in terms of quality and volume to the entire population. When we popularly, with the expert community, give a collegial assessment of what as been done – this is one approach, one view. When there is an opportunity to hear this assessment from people, citizens, actually from those for whom these solutions were developed - this is a completely different level of the mutually beneficial activity.
It is well known that if you look at the same object from different angles then it becomes clear how it can be used with a higher benefit. In this case this was the logic I followed. You, when announcing our meeting, have said in your introduction that I “held more than ten meetings”. Have I never met with citizens before? I have! In my work calendar this is a completely usual occurrence. However, in this new format the conversation itself follows a different path. For instance, when the same experts take part in some committee or council meeting – they are a certain kind of people. When the same experts are in the audience and listen to my conversation with citizens, it gives different opportunities to hear, to learn something new, from a different point of view, different angle. We talked about this at the last meeting with entrepreneurs. We hold meetings with entrepreneurs fairly regularly. Investors’ meetings and Entrepreneurial Activity Council sessions are systematic occurrences. I should point out that there these very same experts are completely different. And when you find yourself at their site and have a direct and open conversation without a procedure or a set agenda then you see completely different people with different views and interests. And here for absolute sure we can find an opportunity to align positions and to correct them if their view and the authorities do not agree on a subject. This is the first point. And the frame of mind is the second. This is the need for a new format, in my case at least. I understand that 2015 and following years are the time that differs from the time we lived in before. For me it is important to understand how better, faster and more effectively for people to put in practice the link between them and authorities. Now, together with you, I am looking for different formats for ensuring this real connection. Most of the meetings conducted were quite intense, rich in content. They give an opportunity to react quickly and make effectual decisions on most varied issues. I selected the most important subjects on purpose – housing and services, the development of healthcare and entrepreneurship, capital repairs. And on the background of direct contacts with officials and local elected representatives this is especially demonstrative and effectual. Besides my own idea about all this I wanted to get as much data as possible from people. And I did get it. Now I have to get a good feel of it, to reflect and settle on concrete solutions.
Presenter, TV Samotlor correspondent Anna Lobanova: Natalia Vladimirovna, tell us, in the process of communicating with people, did you get any information that made you see the life in municipalities differently?
Natalia Komarova: Not differently, no. Just a broader range of issues. Not see life, in the global sense of the word, differently, of course not. Today, for instance, at the end of the meeting with entrepreneurs, one man said, “Comrades entrepreneurs, retailers, please note that you can do a great service to children, please remove sweets from shelves and stands by the checkout. We, parents of little kids, are forced to buy this candy, chewing gum, or chocolate bar to avoid a row, and these products containing sugar are very bad for a growing child’s organism”. It may seem a small thing, but indeed why not? We can organise this kind of movement. And by doing so to defer the high risk period for young kids so that excessive sugar would not accumulate in the organism, and then severe diseases. Other issues were interesting for me too. Not to mention the concrete benefits and the need for inspections. For instance, following the claim that in one maternity hospital young mothers are asked to clean floors in the ward to have cleanliness. Or the information on operation of chemists, the presence of required stock levels of drugs. According to the official data and reports federal prescriptions are getting filled while in reality there are refusals to provide drugs to people with federal benefits which I confirmed personally at one chemist in Nizhnevartovsk. And this happened when even the top manager in the chain responsible for this matter was convinced that the drugs were in stock. This story demonstrates that we have to readjust the entire system. If the governor, top officials, managers at different levels have wrong data appropriate actions must be taken urgently. Or take the issue on capital repair we received during these meetings. It seems simple and in terms of real costs – peanuts. For those who elected to use a communal account, the banking services are paid by the Ugra operator, and those, who opened individual accounts, pay the bank's commission themselves. Should it be like this or not? It seems that everything is compliant with the law. There may be another way of resolving the issue, we will think about it. Another example. An official gave an answer to a plaintiff and the plaintiff was not happy about it. So he went to court, stated his claims to the partner and the court ruled in his favour. That said the official made the comment, the answer, that the plaintiff was in the wrong. Now we have to decide something regarding this official, see whether his qualifications meet the requirements for the position he is in. It would seem a one off case but we will be working with municipalities in a systematic manner on how to link the productivity, efficiency of an official with how many times court cases he loses in connection to civil lawsuits. Do we need officials like this? Why do we have to wait for a court’s ruling to ensure the legality of spending the budget resources? Now we will be thinking about how to regulate issues like that, how to take into account in the performance appraisal of each official this aspect of his activities. These are system-level decisions.
Presenter, TV Samotlor correspondent Anna Lobanova: Let us have questions from the audience.
TV Samotlor, Zhanna Karyakina: Last months of 2014 were serious from the point of view of financial turmoil. Is Ugra ready for them in 2015?
Natalia Komarova: Who can be absolutely ready for turmoil? Undoubtedly, we, as any other institution, we and you are preparing for a certain standard of risks. When these standards are covered by objective factual conditions we have to use the standard additional mechanisms as the reaction to these newly manifested conditions. Essentially we have not quite forgotten the year 2008. But 2014-2015 are characterised by somewhat different conditions. In my view among them there are some which we have not seen during previous crisis periods. Tough external pressure, for instance, which requires a different reaction. They are unpredictable, you cannot plan for them, with that said, they depend on a colossal number of individual persons. In our case we have to, taking into account that conditions of this sort can arise, these are the realities of the modern world in which we live, we need to be able to develop the standards for our actions. Why do we need standards? We need them in any case regardless that for the most part these situations would have to be managed manually, to react quickly and precisely in the choice of solutions and in achieving the effect. That said, we need standards because when decisions are made, and especially when they are implemented a huge number of people are involved. In order to eliminate the proverbial “human element” we need standards which one way or another would keep officials within certain limits for executing their authority. From the point of view, for instance, of the realisation of the budget obligations in 2014 it was enough to have the mechanisms which we built in as compensation in case of difficulties with the realisation of the budget obligations. They worked, they were sufficient. What is more, we did not use all of them. So, in this connexion for 2015 we even have a certain reserve of tools. We have a surplus in the Okrug budget and we have the planned public borrowing reduced from 21.2% (the initial budget plan) to 10%. Therefore, we go into year 2015 already with a certain achievement, since we were planning to enter 2015 with budget deficit and much higher public borrowing. This could not be more fortunate since there are other macroeconomic indicators piling up, not the ones we planned for in the budget. These include the price of barrel of oil and inflation levels. Right now we will be working on the assessment of macroeconomic indicators. Most likely in the nearest future, in February-March we will be correcting our budget obligations in terms of both revenue and spending. That said, we have a task to ensure reaching targets and executing Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation. This is another one of the new tasks which we will have to resolve. The standard approach before was like this – the revenues reduce – the spending reduces. So far we have a different objective – to give a real assessment of revenues and at the same time to establish the set of budget spending and events in such a fashion as to be able to achieve the goals in the medium term period, up to 2020, for instance, and execute all the Decrees of the President. This is the not so simple task in hand. Get involved!
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Now we can change the format a little, like in the TV quiz “What? Where? When?” we will have a picture question. Let me give you probably the most remote guest today, the TV and radio company “Ugra”.
OTRC Ugra, Darya Shchekotova: Natalia Vladimirovna, we found a photo taken in 2001 by a Yamal paper. I should remind you, maybe there are not that many people who know this, that this year marks the 35th anniversary since Natalia Vladimirovna started working in the North. I have read that you have been the mayor of Novy Urengoy, first deputy governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and now – in Ugra. What has changed in this time? How has the North itself changed?
Thank you very much, you counted all my work since 1980 as the work in the North. Despite the fact that for eight years I worked in the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Why did I thank you? Not only to get a higher pension taking into account the length of my service in the North, but most of all because I myself treated my work in the State Duma of the RF the same way. I told myself and my electorate that I am in Moscow on a business trip, while really I work in Yamal and serve the Yamal interests. Maybe you did not want to emphasise this but it makes me happy as it aligned with my perception of the length of my service in the North. This is the first point. Secondly, the North is changing, of course. We all, one way or another, have some experience of living in the North and we see how it is changing in many respects. The only thing I would regret if it changed is people. Because there are no better people than those who live here in the North. At least I have not met any either in our country or abroad. What is objectively changing is the level of comfort in northern settlements, this is what everyone notices. These are positive changes. The relationships in the society are changing, and in the economy too, undoubtedly. There are these threats that the approach to remuneration of labour might change, that everybody wants to take away our northern allowances, and polar ones, but this has not changed so far, here we manifest out northern character and we reserve this right for the remuneration of labour. We let more and more into our territory and for ourselves we discover the opportunities to work not only in oil and gas and their transportation and processing but to engage in other types of activities. These changes are substantial, they affect our image. Our children are very well-intentioned, intelligent, talented, trusting. And parents, the northerners, always worry when letting kids go outside of the region because conditions there are different and it is likely our kids are not ready for them. Maybe they are smarter, better educated, and more talented, but they are less used to tough human relationships. But at the same time many of them, practically everyone, choose this path and follow it with dignity. I too have changed, probably, and my haircut has changed for sure as well (laughs). I have two children, and I have grandchildren too. Of course, we all change. And the North reveals new opportunities for the people and for the country.
Information agency “Mangazeya”, Vitaly Titov: In support of the unofficial format of the meeting I will ask a personal question. Will you be jumping into an ice-hole on the Epiphany?
Natalia Komarova: No, I will not. The reason is simple. This is not simply freezing water swimming, this is a church rite, a deeply personal rite, so not to turn it into a popular spectacle I, most likely will not do it, which is a pity.
Information agency “Mangazeya”, Vitaly Titov: Then let us move to traditional questions, can we have some more detail on the budget?
Natalia Komarova: I have already answered you that we are starting the work on this issue. And I emphasise once again that the objective is in that the target indicators and the indicators stipulated in Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation must be accomplished.
Information agency “Mangazeya”, Vitaly Titov: Natalia Vladimirovna, I will clarify the question. The most important thing here is wages. This is what interests those whose wages are paid from the budget.
Natalia Komarova: I have already said that the mentioned measures and indicators must be accomplished. Wages, in any conditions is the first of the protected articles of the budget, this is the first thing we have to comply with. We will have enough resources to pay wades.
Information agency “URA.RU”, Eldar Bulatov: Recently the authorities at different levels started actively working on making budget organisations and institutions self-sufficient. And many approached this matter in a rush if not to say brusque manner. For instance here, in Nizhnevartovsk, not so long ago there was a scandal in one additional education establishment whose employees started offering, to local entrepreneurs, performances (to be paid for) of pre-school kids’ performance teams for company parties. Then this event did not receive an unequivocal assessment by local authorities. Which is why I would like to ask you to share your opinion on the matter.
Natalia Komarova: I just do not understand, how anyone could come up with that. I am always very strict about that even in the official, ceremonial, events, concerts for a city or the Okrug in which children take part, the time stipulated as safe for a child’s health is strictly complied with. And the content of the concert programme should be acceptable for people aged 0+. So I would not even comment on this as it was a total mistake.
Information agency “URA.RU”, Eldar Bulatov: How could it be made so that locals authorities would understand this boundary?
Natalia Komarova: Our intervention and an intervention from any citizen in an event of this kind is an absolutely normal line of behaviour, a normal reaction. You see something that you consider dangerous and malign, you inform someone. This is a perfectly normal story. I did not know that the range of ideas was so broad.
Information agency “URA.RU”, Eldar Bulatov: A little aside here. New Year celebrations have passed, and we received this kind of signals. So I can not speak for a 100%.
Natalia Komarova: Alla Anatolyevna Badina is in the studio, probably, she knows for sure.
Head of Administration of Nizhnevartovsk Alla Badina: We referred all these issues to the Prosecutor’s Office. The only thing we will ask in this connexion is that the Prosecutor’s Office make the results of their inspections public.
Natalia Komarova: I cannot imagine a single teacher, extracurricular classes or, more so, an educational establishment manager, who is capable of making this kind of decision.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Natalia Vladimirovna, it seems to me that it may be yet another trend, possibly, of these crisis times.
Natalia Komarova: No. This is a trend of inner development of a particular person.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Everyone come out differently in a crisis. A person is probably best seen in a crisis. Someone would sit there analyse and calculate, someone else goes and buys currency and sack loads of buckwheat. And is therefore, his own boss.
Natalia Komarova: Everyone is right. I as a governor can not reproach anyone. Everyone makes individual decisions on their own protection. But this must neither be harmful to themselves or another person, or break the law.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Now, business is in this special situation as the “crisis” hieroglyph has two meanings. The first is a difficult situation. The second is a new opportunity. Today, literally before this meeting you have met with entrepreneurs. Please tell us, what are the vibes in the business community now?
Natalia Komarova: A usual, normal, human reaction. They are tense. They are trying to predict the risks and determine how they are going to act. It is an absolutely common, adequate reaction. I can tell you that the business community, at least those who took part in the conversation, are prepared to live in a difficult time. Psychologically. I do hope that this preparedness would be enough. In principle, at the time of crisis, as a rule, brave and effective solutions are developed, projects implemented, which would probably have never been done in trouble-free times. This is just the time for large investments of various forces – physical, intellectual, there is a need for health and time.
For instance, when you meet a person who came out of a deep human trauma and he says to you, “Well, Natalia Vladimirovna, we are all very concerned here. It is not that easy to live in the today’s world. But the wages are being raised. Why not declare one working day for each one of us for the Peace Fund”? You see? At the time of crisis a person in a difficult situation has a very clear head, his thoughts and heart work in this direction. The very next day an elected representative suggest a plan for a bonus for 10 December. I just mention this fact, and we immediately decide that it would be more correct to work for the benefit of the Peace Fund on 10 December.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Why 10 December?
Natalia Komarova: 10 December is the Autonomous Okrug’s birthday. So on this day we can work for one common purpose.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: - It is a birthday and the entire Okrug is at work, this is logical.
Natalia Komarova: Yes. Crisis.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Let us come back to questions from the audience.
Nizhnevartovsk District TV, Natalya Menshchekova: The question I have is this. Recently, due to the situation in the global market the suggestion that we need to support Russian producers sounds more and more often. If we talk about the districts we know that there are certain agreement reached in the Nizhnevartovsk District. Local farmers are ready to supply their produce to general education establishments. This is if we are talking locally. What kind of the support measures for local producers do you see helping them make products not only of high quality but competitive too?
Natalia Komarova: This is a boring issue. Now I will start telling you about subsidies, compensations and so on. They are all in public domain. They are all built into the documents and governmental programmes. At the municipal level there are municipal programmes. The budget has been approved and these obligations are recorded in it. That said, we communicated with entrepreneurs, farmers, and they still have questions, new suggestions regarding how we should act in this respect. I should note that we are not an agricultural region and we will not be able to provide ourselves with the entire range of produce. With the current level of technology, people’s knowledge in this sphere, it would still be impossible. Maybe tomorrow someone would come up with ingenious engineering solutions, equipment, machines, seeds etc. which would make it possible to develop this activity in our conditions without making losses and with good harvests. Then we would be able to say that we manage to provide for ourselves. At the moment we can aspire to the better level of covering the demand for potatoes. Today we have quite good supplies of fish. We need to work on it, undoubtedly. This is why we aim for, first and foremost, the replenishment of biological resources in bodies of water. Secondly, we help businesses which choose the path of aquaculture. Again, in this case we can say that it will be fresh water fish. Some of us like or prefer sea fish, so we would still be importing these products. People always have to have choice. So, judging by how this vector is developing, we would still be eating imported product for another decade. I am sorry, but it is true, you know it. So now we are trying to make more diverse the ways the goods and food stuffs are transported, and delivered to the consumer. This is done, among other things, to prevent excessive price speculation. And, if you noticed, we are actively promoting local trade fairs and trying to engage our neighbours. Agricultural regions – so they could sell their products here directly without the retail mark-up. We also have the experience of our entrepreneurs of growing produce for processing in neighbouring regions. For instance the stock is kept in the Kurgan Oblast and the meat processing capacity is here, in Nizhnevartovsk. Entrepreneurs do use these formats and we support it because in this case the high added value is produced here, in our territory. We are looking for new formats not only to ensure a diversity of meals on Ugra’s residents’ tables but also, the inflation, gallop as it may, notwithstanding, at acceptable prices. We do support agricultural producers because we understand the level and the volume of these products will only cover 15-20% of the entire demand in the Autonomous Okrug.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: You said it was a boring issue but your answer was very appetizing. Do we have any more questions?
UgraMediaGroup media holding, Yana Litvenko: We do know that the building site for the Okrug hospital is equipped with CCTV cameras and you can see how the construction is progressing in real time. Are you happy with the progress and quality?
Natalia Komarova: I am not happy with the progress made. In terms of quality it is too soon to say; in any case, the volumes of work handed over have been accepted for payment. Therefore the quality is compliant with the design and estimate documentation as assessed by the specialists. By the way, it is only for them to judge, not for me or you. I am not happy with the progress made on the one hand, but on the other I understand that there are objective causes for this. The thing is here that we are working on this site with problems with the design and estimates documentation which still have not been resolved due to various reasons. Which is why we are forced to reduce the amount of the construction since continuing these works without finalised decisions entered into the documentation is impractical from the point of view of the effectiveness of use of the budget resources and from the point of view of that to build a facility that would be possible to use as one meeting all the current standards.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Natalia Vladimirovna, during your visit you gave a lot of your attention to issues of housing and services, in particular capital repairs. It is clear, that despite the huge work done on educating the residents by the administration, and the mass media, and managing companies, residents still have a lot of questions. Can you tell us, what are residents’ primary concerns?
Natalia Komarova: On the surface we see the size of the minimal payment, the worry about whether the money paid will be spent on the repairs of their, and not some other, building, that the money would not simply disappear as they have seen happen before. They are concerned about partner-like honest relationships with managing companies. If we talk about capital repairs, these are the primary issues. On the whole there are quite a lot of them. But you are right, there are certain results of the work done, and I could sense it because when people discuss involved subjects and issues with understanding, even that a payment incurs a banking fee for the processing of the operation, how much it would cost, is it legal or not. These are ordinary citizens, maybe community leaders, and it was a pleasure for me to talk to them since I could see that the understanding of the subject is growing deeper and I am not the first official talking to people. And people are ready to move forward, to develop the subject, suggestions are emerging, bottle necks are being established, they can be precisely located and, therefore, suggest various solutions.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: I was really stunned by the level of detail in which people are knowledgeable. Compared to other municipalities, are the residents of Nizhnevartovsk and the Nizhnevartovsk District more active in this question?
Natalia Komarova: This is true. Nizhnevartovsk has a track record of popular participation in housing and services, and this is useful because the authorities, contractors, and citizens are learning to communicate and find a common tongue. Every stakeholder is already in agreement that the authorities have their sector, and citizens - their own sector. There is no situation where all the room is taken by authorities and there is none left for citizens. Or the managing company, housing and services take up the entire field, and neither authorities nor citizens know what side to approach from to resolve a particular problem. Everyone is beginning to take their place fitting for an easy resolution of their task. It is clearly noticeable. Before this there was an avalanche of claims. Today this issue entering a civilized plane and people are so deeply becoming prepared and educated. This is very useful. Relationships are regulated because each stakeholder is competent and knows who has what rights and stands up for these rtights.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Do we have any more questions? I suggest we give some attention to the radio. Russian Radio, please.
Russian Radio, Nizhnevartovsk, Yuliya Slasterina: Can you tell us, could the capital repair payments be reconsidered in Ugra and how would the question of benefits for socially vulnerable categories be resolved?
Natalia Komarova: If the radio does not know the answers to these questions. Yulya, it is possible, but we are not planning to change the size of the minimal contribution. We decided not to change it in 2015 despite the fact that the inflation is higher than we planned for. In 2016 we, most likely will not be changing the size of this payment. About the benefits. In December of the current year the Law of the Autonomous Okrug was adopted which includes the extended list of categories of citizens entitled to benefits. It came into force on 1 January 2015. These categories can enjoy this right. We have calculated the budget spending for this year for at least 120 thousand payers of contributions for capital repair. It is possible there will be more. Everything depends on how people will use this right.
Presenter, TV Samotlor correspondent Anna Lobanova: Colleagues, are there any questions to continue on this subject?
The Samotlor Express weekly, Inna Temnova: Natalia Vladimirovna, please tell us, what is your assessment of the work being done by housing and services community councils? Are they efficient as organisations? Are there any minuses?
Natalia Komarova: I do not have a right to judge grassroots community organisations.
The Samotlor Express weekly, Inna Temnova: Do you think they played a role?
Natalia Komarova: In this sense, of course. Undoubtedly they remain at the forefront, moreover, we reinforced them with mobile working groups which consist exclusively of professionals specialized in this field and who have a duty to receive every question and every problem and ensure that they are considered by community councils or directly through the administration, managing companies, Prosecutor’s Office or law enforcement structures. Also there are the educational efforts of Ugra’s operator starting with the hotline and finishing also with personal contacts with citizens, community councils and managing companies trustee boards, with housing owners’ associations. There is a whole infrastructure established for the public pressure on the situation to eliminate errors, and if there are errors, to rectify them quickly. This is the role of housing and services community councils. I should remind you that when the decision was made to establish them there was the popular demand to establish a platform where in direct contact the issues people have in this filed could be revealed and resolved. Then later when they have played this first public role, the situation had normalised and authorities started responding to contact it could have looked like they to cease any activity. Their role and importance began to be perceived differently. When the new objective emerged involving capital repairs they came to the forefront again. This is why we gave them additional leverage, tools which I mentioned before. Their role remains most important. Any community institute is a tool which must be, and we have to create all the conditions needed for that when people entering it could use it and have the maximum use out of it.
Okrug paper Mestnoe Vremya [Local Time], Tatiana Shironina: Natalia Vladimirovna, in some regions and municipalities authorities are paying for some of the capital repair of a building. Would this be possible in Ugra?
Natalia Komarova: Not just possible, we have already done it. The cost of capital repairs of one square metre of housing in our region is 22 roubles on average, we set the size of the contribution at 11.5 roubles on average. This will cost the Okrug budget 500 million roubles.
SRTC “Yugoria”, Marina Grey: I have a question for you on the subject of affordable housing, Unfortunately homes are not always affordable, the market is in the state of crisis. You, probably, more likely than anyone else, have comprehensive information on the matter. What should young families do? Bite the bullet and wait or buy homes and everything will straighten out?
Natalia Komarova: I do not give advice, even to my daughters. Especially in a question like this. This is a personal matter for every individual. On the other hand this really is a difficult time. It is always harder for young families. This is why in the housing programme of the Autonomous Okrug there is a special sub-programme aimed specifically at young families. Among all the sub-programmes of which there are five, funding for this one has always been a priority. We used to issue two and a half subsidies each year. It is quite tangible. It has gained attraction, people noticed real movement, we had a surge in the number of people wanting to participate in the programme. There are fifty thousand of them now instead of five-seven thousand. This is why we made a decision to stop taking new applications because it became clear that we would not be able to manage to provide for all applicants. Now the risks of stopping being the part of the programme are higher because we are forced to reduce the amount of resources allocated for these purposes. Since you started off two subjects in one questions, both very serious, I have to note that they are in conflict with each other. The development and preservation of the industry and subsidies for young families. In our programme we have a mechanism of subsidies for existing contracts, i.e. for homes which have already been built. The industry needs the current capital to exist here and now. And it is in this connexion that injections of the budget money are useful via mortgages and measures linked to housing buy out. This is the direct working capital that the industry receives and therefore is able to continue operating in the market and even reduce prices which is nice for people. Price reduction, however, is only nice for consumers when it occurs faster than the growth of their incomes and the inflation processes on other expenses could be covered by the increased income. To balance this is very difficult. This is why at the meeting with developers we discussed what anti-crisis measures would really be useful for the industry during this period. We have not found any ingenious solutions so far. We came to an agreement that in the nearest time we will sit down and storm our intellectual capacities to find solutions.
SRTC “Yugoria”, Marina Grey: Another question, this is about Megion. There has been an emergency there, not the first one either. The frosts, we have some of the January left, February, cold March ahead of us. Services are severely worn out. What can be done in this situation? How would the events develop?
Natalia Komarova: On Megion we have developed a number of short-term measures which take into account the conditions in which we will be working, from the assessment of the services mains to carrying out the work needed. Mid-term measures have also been developed. These include capital repairs, replacement of services mains, construction of new services facilities. The situation in the services field in Megion is worse than in the region as a whole. This is why we have developed this plan with the participation of the Department for Housing, Services, and Power Engineering. The entire Okrug has to work on this municipality. I do hope that decisions made would make it possible to rectify the situation in thi city in 2015.
Journalist has not introduced himself: Natalia Vladimirovna, hello. We do know, you are an active internet user and a regular forum reader. I would like to read a message that concerns your visit. It is sent by Zinaida Semyonovna, this woman went to the Outpatient Care Centre №1: “I am standing there in the queue at the reception and see a familiar face. My vision is not what it used to be. So I looked harder and recognise her, it is our governor, approaching the desk. I was so surprised I had to sit down”. We do know you personally went to the clinic reception, can you please share your impression with us?
Natalia Komarova: I had to do it. I was told at the reception that there were free windows to see any specialist I wanted. This was at about nine in the morning. That said, I have complaints from citizens that you have to pitch a tent at three AM to be able to be in the queue in time to get to see a doctor you need at the time acceptable for the person in question. There was really just an empty hall, no queue. One visitor comes, it turns out she did not get to see the ENT specialist, but was given the option to see another specialist which suited her just fine. Coming back to the question of drugs. They exist on paper but when you come to a particular chemist they are not there. The same here. There are open windows, but not for all the specialists. An inspection has been planned, following its results we will be taking steps. The problem of access to specialists does exist in Ugra today. We have to resolve it. This is regardless of the fact that we have established infrastructure which eliminated having to stand in queues. There is a terminal, there is the internet booking system, you can also come in person and try to get a ticket for the free window you want. Yes, there are refusals of service and people start screaming that they can not get to see the doctor. We will be working on the system. Another question is bothering me. We get the negative impressions of the state of affairs in healthcare before a person gets to see a physician. He comes to the reception, and he was either told “No”, or they were rude to him, ask him now, ask him now what he thinks of the level of healthcare. The answer is obvious. We invested billions in this. And what for did we spend all this money? Why would we, with all the existing problems, ensure that by 2018 doctors get twice the regional average wage. People count everything. We had a very serious talk with healthcare professionals, discussed the subject. It is important that specialists, managers of healthcare facilities, at least in Nizhnevartovsk, would be ready to change their approach, their decisions. They do not say that it is unfair. They are ready for the peer evaluation and the inspection of their work. For me this is a good signal, that there are partners there. There is a positive reaction occurring there, there is the desire to cooperate and do their job well, the way people need it done.
Radio Europe Plus Nizhnevartovsk, Aygul Tuktamysheva: Natalia Vladimirovna, I have a question. Is it possible to end the two-heads system of governing Nizhnevartovsk, is so – under what conditions? Would it be possible to get the government system back when one Mayor was elected unanimously instead of two heads of the city?
Natalia Komarova: There are no two heads in Nizhnevartovsk. This is a fact. De jure and de facto. There is one head of the city in Nizhnevartovsk – Maksim Vitalyevich Klets. And the appointed city manager – Alla Anatolyevna Badina – the head of administration. The Duma makes decisions within its terms of reference, the administration in its terms of reference. No one person has ruled the city and does not rule now. There have always been governing bodies.
Radio Europe Plus Nizhnevartovsk, Aygul Tuktamysheva: There are many people unhappy with how the work is done by managers, for instance, and people want to know if it was possible to go back to the system when decisions were made by a single person.
Natalia Komarova: I know such heads of municipalities who have been elected by a general vote, with whom all residents are very unhappy but cannot get rid of them. The cause here is not in the system but in whom we elect and who comes to work for local government. This is the question worth working on. Your opinion is that you prefer electing the head of the local government by the city-wide vote?
Radio Europe Plus Nizhnevartovsk, Aygul Tuktamysheva: Yes, as we used to.
Natalia Komarova: It is still possible now, according to the legislation of the Autonomous Okrug. Every municipality determines the format of governance for itself. Most of municipalities of the Autonomous Okrug, with the exception of Surgut, have shifted to this kind of system. Representatives are elected and then out them – the head of municipality. Then the representative body of the local government employs a city-manager to run the city or the district. We have been working in this system, if we are talking from the decision having been made to the present day, for three years. There is some positive experience, where both the elected representatives and the contracted head of administration have been well selected. I can mention Urai, Kogalym, Nizhnevartovsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, Yugorsk, and others. There are several opinions on the matter, there are supporters for both. This is a normal state of affairs, this is what local government is all about. Any system has deficiencies and advantages, some – more, others – less. So, having made one choice or another, we carry on living and working. If we think we should make a change, we will make a change. However, in principle, this system is quite common. At the moment it is used in most subjects of the Russian Federation.
Newspaper “Novosti Priobya” [The Priobye News], Larisa Mikheyeva: I would like to come back to the subject of small and medium-sized business. Today at the meeting with elected representatives of the Nizhnevartovsk District you pointed out that our District has one of the best indicators on the development and is the first in terms of the number of registered enterprises. I wanted to ask you, you have visited all the municipalities, tried many products. What would you mention before others? What would you give as gifts, maybe you could even name one of Ugra-based brands?
Natalia Komarova: It is beyond doubt, everyone likes Sosva herring. I have never met a person who would not agree that it is delicious. Everybody likes our sterlet. I do try it in other regions, but ours is nicer every time. That said, I try to be objective. For instance about muksun. Muksun is nicer in Yamal. I love our mushrooms and how they are prepared by our producers. Before I tried Konda mushrooms I used to think that Tyumen ones were nicer. Now I am not sure that Tyumen mushrooms are nicer, I think that ours are better. Berries and various preserves. People understand that when they taste our berries they have not been grown at plantations, it is live and ecologically clean. Nuts ant the entire range. Everything made here I do like. Butter, and cottage cheese, and even sausages that are so bad for you. Sausages are delicious in the Nizhnevartovsk area.
SVS-Soyuz TV, Olga Sidorova: Tell us, what would inspire a young person, a young talented scholar, stay in Ugra? Because the majority leave for other regions and look for different opportunities. I have a personal example, my husband is involved in innovations in the oil industry, he is getting very good offers but we are Ugra patriots, we want to stay here. But some circumstances are disconcerting, the mortgage, the milk kitchen closing down, the produce prices in shops and so on.
Natalia Komarova: In this field we are not the most competitive, this is a fact. The academic foundation is not very well developed here, not the same opportunities in universities for academic careers like for instance in St Petersburg, Moscow, or Novosibirsk – the commonly known academic centres in this field, according to expert assessments. I k now for sure that you and I are lacking opportunities like that here in Ugra. This is a vector that demands further development. This is not cheap. In order to provide for this field we have to seriously think about in what format and to what level, to what standard we could do it and how expedient it would be. If we evaluate the global practices, we and you are engaged in the activity which demands serious scientific substantiation and development. The global experience tells us, that as a rule, science is localised in places where minerals are extracted. But here it did not happen this way, the science support of these processes has initially not been established at the production location. Now it is not easy to reorient these flows. We are trying to develop this vector and establish the conditions and platforms for innovators, for people who prefer science as a part of their professional activities. We are building a testing ground for the extraction of difficult oil reserves, Bazhenov, primarily. This is an interesting site for scientists because it has huge application opportunities. And your projects and developments in this sphere can be not only in a lab but at the location, at a particular field to try and test and start up a commercial project, a commercially viable solution. Plus now we are working on the project for the establishment of a campus based on the Surgut State University. The establishment of specialized labs, platforms and testing grounds where scientific developments could be tried and tested, all this will be included in this campus. This is a serious project and now we are working on the question of what vectors it is expedient to focus on so as not to repeat something that has already been done. Maybe some have not been done and just do those. We have to be useful first of all here, in the Autonomous Okrug, and then we could replicate the best practices outside the region. You asked me a serious question. You are the second person to ask me this. The first one was the Salakhov School graduate in Surgut. When a child started talking about it I realised that we have no right to ignore the subject, we have to have an answer for this question. In one or another volume we have to formulate the answer and it should become one of vectors of our strategy and development. In your question you gave ineffectual examples. If we are talking about mortgages then we are practically the only subject in the Russian Federation that provides the state support of mortgages in this volumes. Most often as a measure of the state support for young families a certain sum is given for the down payment. But it is not a fact that it would be enough for the bank loan. According to the Okrug programme the mortgage interest rate on mortgages taken in 2014 is five percent. Have you heard of anything like it anywhere else?
SVS-Soyuz TV, Olga Sidorova: The company that has offered him a job is offering to cover the interest completely.
Natalia Komarova: That is an internal matter for the particular company while we are discussing what the state does through the Government of the Autonomous Okrug, I am not responsible for companies. Some companies triple your pension, here you cannot really count what they have in their pockets. We are discussing measures which we undertake here for young people, for which I am responsible as the Head of the Government. This is the first and most important aspect. If we talk about prices then yes, they are different, but the life here is different too.
SVS-Soyuz TV, Olga Sidorova: You have to agree that, for instance, the price for milk of 85 roubles at a social food shop which is called “Social” meaning it is aimed at people with low incomes
Natalia Komarova: I will agree with you on everything, this is your right to choose where to live, my business is to try an make Ugra the best location on Earth. But even that does not guarantee that you won’t want to leave anyway. I think it is a normal desire since it is a personal business of every person how to run their life. Sometimes people make a decision to leave the golden cage because they do not want to live in it, people have different types of motivation when them make a decision on where they would want to reside and what they want to do. I, as the Head of the Government, have to ensure decent living conditions in Ugra. It has to be safe here, comfortable, we have to provide the best quality and volume of healthcare services, education, comply with environmental standards and then people would want to come and live here. So far this is exactly the trend. People are coming to live here. Our objective is to make it stick, to make is a fair and substantiated opinion.
TV N1, Natalya Smakotina: The question I have is what is the purpose of introducing the pre-school child certificate. It is well known that the pilot project will start in three Okrug’s municipalities. And what is the state of affairs with the completion of this assignmnet?
Natalia Komarova: The assignment has been given, the deadline set, the preparation for the implementation of the project is ongoing. Our specialists together with community leaders are developing this mechanism. The purpose of it is to ensure the quality meeting the residents’ expectations in the provision of educational services, pre-school education and care for pre-school kids, ensuring equality of access to municipal contracts in the field of municipal, state-owned and private structures, providing choices.
TV N1, Natalya Smakotina: How are things with building-kindergartens?
Natalia Komarova: Building-kindergarten is a pilot project too. We are planning to start it in Surgut. The construction of two of these is close to completion. We will come into this and develop, try and test techniques of this way of providing services in the field of the pre-school education and care.
Newspaper “Novosty Ugry” [News of Ugra], Tamara Kozlova: You are so full of Ugra, as if you knew for sure that the President will offer your candidacy to our legislature for the next term and that our legislature will vote for you.
Natalia Komarova: No, I do not know for sure. But I can not be not full of Ugra, I cannot imagine the situation where I just sat and waited for the President to make his decision.
Newspaper “Novosty Ugry” [News of Ugra], Tamara Kozlova: not even a hunch?
Natalia Komarova: I don’t even try to guess, this is unnecessary as it would only take time and, possibly, emotions. I know the technology of this decision making and there is no sense in guessing.
Information agency Megion News, Jamilya Shaydullina: 2015 is has been announced as the year of literature in Russia, many events are planned in our Okrug on this interesting topic. I would like to learn more about your personal preferences. Do you manage to find time in your intense busy schedule to sit and read a book? Who is your favourite author, maybe you have a favourite piece? And, to continue the subject, there is the President’s list of literature that every schoolchild has to read. In your view, what other works could be introduced to this list, works which every educated person must know?
Natalia Komarov: I do not have an approach in my life where I would foist my personal rules and preferences on other people. There are specialists in this field, they decided that it would be important and useful for students to learn these pieces within the school curriculum. I trust their personal opinion. I am sure they, being professionals, understand what benefit one or another piece could give to a young person. From the immersion into the Russian language and building the feeling and the taste for the language to the understanding of life and educating a citizen. I believe everyone should be doing his/her own busoiness. I have not been educated as a teacher or a psychologist, so I see no chance for myself to try and tell you about my preferences in this matter. I am a reader. When I was a child and a youth I read most of the books I have read. Reading then to the larger extent shaped my tastes and preferences and what I want to get from reading a book. I still read now because reading is a habit and a need. I think it is useful to build this habit, this skill in my children and now – grandchildren. Mainly I read when I am in a plane. Recently I finished reading the “Black Cat” by Stanislav Govorukhin, his first book. It was a lucky coincident that Valeriy Todorovskiy’s Ottepel was broadcast during the winter holiday. The events in the book and in the film take place during the same period, tell us about that environment, those citizens and their attitude to life. Before that I read the collected short stories, one of which was written by our fellow countryman Sergei Kozlov – Mytar [tax-collector]. When I was getting ready to make the address I took as a foundation Ivan Shestalov’s manuscript which he gave me in person. I was looking for basic key things on which to build the material so that it would be useful for people and answer citizen’s questions. These are not pieces connected to each other. These are different poems, thoughts, his thoughts referring thoughts of other people, the material as we would call it, material in work. At the same time in this I found answers or the wording of what I was thinking about but not in such a focused manner or have not yet established a precise opinion on the subject. For me it was useful because in principle around his wording and attitude to certain subjects I managed to express my thoughts and shared them with you in my address. By the way, I do not have favourite books or authors, I read what I need to read now and what is interesting now.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: what inspires you in your life?
Natalia Komarova: People. Exclusively. I do not know anything more useful, important, or efficient than communicating with people. Even when they take offence, even when they badmouth me, when they, as it seams to me unfairly badmouth me, although my key principle is that people are always right. Consequently I always find that I was in the wrong and if I did that work differently the reaction would have been different too.
Presenter, UgraMediaGroup media holding correspondent Aleksey Shabanov: Natalia Vladimirovna, dear colleagues, I suggest to end our conversation at this positive note. Natalia Vladimirovna, thank you. At the end of this intense, difficult visit, on a Friday night, you found time to meet with us.