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IA “SIA-PRESS” Natalia Komarova: “I am the responsible one”


IA “SIA-PRESS” Natalia Komarova: “I am the responsible one”

The Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug– Ugra media office reports

The tet-a-tet interview with the governor is the big luck. Well for the whole history of the “Noviy Gorod” it has never happened. Yes, of course on our pages we had the interviews with the governors, ministers and with the vice-presidents etc, but in this format we talked for the first time. Firstly, Natalia Komarova straight away accepted an offer to talk. Secondly, she didn’t set any limits in time or the conversation subjects. Third, she has showed herself as a very intelligent and delicate conversation partner. The results of the more than two hour interview are in front of you.

About the authority

Up to what degree and how does the nowadays district authority system differs from that which we got from Aleksander Filipenko? What did you want to change in the first place and how did it work out?

- The question is more difficult than you think. Because we are not talking about the heritage of one person, even though his meaning is very important, but about the large quantity of the other people who were operating the governmental functions during the past twenty years. Everything that is somehow connected with the people’s destiny is not easy. But even then I have my own opinion about how to make the governmental decisions, to provide its realization and control. This is what found the reflection in the today’s government structure of Ugra. The amount of the deputies of the governor has decreased, the amount of the authority body has changed the amount of workers, - it was made for my effectiveness of being in charge as the governor, and people could easily get necessary services and answers on questions which are bothering them.

Also I perfectly understand that in all formally made decisions can breathe in life only people who are execute these decisions. Nobody can make it better than the Ugra residents, and to change them for someone better from the side I am not going to. This is what we call “we”. My work style means the necessity of maximum contacts with people, regions residents. People have to have the opportunity to see me, ask me, say their opinion, and it is very important for me to hear them. Because this fact has a big meaning it is “getting” in to the governing structure. This is perhaps one of the main changes.

A basic example – I daily have meetings on private matters. The amount of questions was huge; there was a queue to up to 200 people! Right now on my waiting list are only four people. There isn’t less questions, it’s because I had meeting three times a week, so people won’t be waiting for the meeting for months.

- It is really noticeable that you are moving around the region a lot, communicating to people. The amount of your contacts with press is also increased, you could be contacted in the internet as well, and this interview is the proof of this. And it seems that you are the one of those rare governors who appeared in the virtual world not formally, because Dmitriy Medvedev did so but really using this instrument for communicating to people. 

 - Yes, I have such an “amusement” (smiling –red.). You have to understand that a lot of people live in the social networks. And not to lose these people it is obvious that you need to use it as well. I won’t be able to get them out of there and don’t know if I should. But it is important for me that we all will be together – that’s why I go there, I don’t have the other options. You can give 45 minutes per day to it. Of course you still have to find time, but for such important issue I find it. And it is not because Dmitriy Anatolievich Medvedev does so. But from the other side if the President thinks that this is an important way of communicating, why won’t the governor decide that it might be useful as well? You could think about it this way also. But there is no blind imitation: if Dmitriy Anatolievich is fond of photography that means that I’ll do the same. No I won’t become a photographer for sure.

- A year ago when Dmitriy Popov was the Mayor of Surgut, it was announced about the “overloading” of the relationship with the regions centre. What do you think, were there any reasons for renewing the relationship of the region with its largest municipality? If yes, then what is this renewing?

- You know this is not my disease that’s why I can’t talk if it should have been cured or not. I maybe a bit too tired to talk about it but I am a true municipal, doesn’t matter if it’s Surgut or Raduzhniy, Khanty-Mansiysk or Nizhnevartovsk. It is very important that municipalities have not only responsibility but instruments for the real work. For me it’s a very obvious target: maximum re-orientate everything for the local self-government level. I knew that this is going to happen one day and I am happy that this is happening now. I am talking about the decentralization of the authorities: from the federal level to the regional level and so on, to municipal. Because you can always find a wagon and a little trolley of reasons and explanations why you can’t pass on certain functions…

- What is this decentralization about?

 - The following target is set. Dmitriy Anatolievich Medvedev initiated the necessity of the decisions development in this sphere. For us, Ugra residents, this message is also important because we were always a donor-region which is giving the most of the income to the federal level and from there they are coming back as some aid and governmental grants. In the relationship between the regional and local authorities there’s the same principle.

And it is very difficult to change everything in this mentality. It can’t be done in one second, it is done in continuously. The first and the most important is that we tried to program the relationship with municipalities. While we have the most of the authority, we are using the instrument of the targeted regional programs to maximum pass the amount of the authority to its places, to give the functions and to give the funds for its realization.

But where the municipality has the authorities but there’s no money, we are carving out of the regional budget on the co-financing conditions. If just to give the money – theirs is the fear that they are not going to be used accordingly. And please believe me that these fears have reasons. But on the co-financing conditions, you understand that have the responsibility for this with the partner.

If for the municipality this or that type of problem is the priority one then there you go, here is in the ratio 80 to 20, 95 to 5 – and this is one of the serious instruments to maximum re-orientate the centre of decision makings to the municipal level. We “opened up” few funds, which are in the same way, targeted on to passing the money from the federal budget to the municipal level. Also fund’s money can be used for the co-financing for your shares in the regional programs.

- So you are taking the money from the region and use them as “your” own share in the regional programs? Is it the double using of the region’s funds?

 - Yes. Providing such obvious financial benefits, we are making the municipality to think, to make weighted governmental decisions, to get away from practice such as “please give us, we don’t have funds to pay the salaries”, “please give us, we don’t have money to pay for the fuel” and so on. To prevent this we are moving in the direction of making the mutual decisions. When the municipality mentality will change in this direction then we will be able to fearlessly pass the centre of the decision making to the municipal level.

Today we are offering the alternative for the municipalities – to take 15% off the tax for the individual income, paid on the territory or receive guaranteed governmental aids. On the practice it means this: you are dealing with the growth of the tax base, or you don’t care. Most of the people don’t want to risk but even here we don’t want to calm down. Perhaps 15% is not a very stimulating rate that’s why we are going to have differentiated approach for every occasion, increasing the rate to keep the higher interest.

- We are observing a truly non typical for the modern Russia situation: the candidates for the head of the regional department of education position went through the specific internet-primaries, and then televised debates. Looks like it is the All-Russian know-how. Whose idea is this?

 - I thought of it myself! Such as related to the internet voting. And as about the televised debate Elena has made the form for me (Elena Shumakova – the Ugra governor’s press secretary. Editor’s note). I forced her, because there was the gap, something wasn’t enough between the people’s votes in the internet and making the governmental decision. Lena suggested televised debates, to increase the deliberateness of the made by me decision.

- Please tell what motivation did you have for introducing these innovations?

 - If talking about the department of education then out of three candidates I knew only Lyubov Nikolaevna Koveshnikova, she was included into the personnel reserve. But I was working with her as with the deputy head of department, and she was lacking some things, to understand how adequate she is in this position. Two other candidates were offered by my deputy, Aleksei Putin.

The picture with the internet-voting was as being said an oil-painting, in terms of presence so called “churning”. But I don’t take any offense, maybe people just tried to demonstrate some of their qualities. These are nowadays realities and let’s consider this. Televised debates are making to find quick answers – this is a good format for checking the certain qualities needed for the leader.

I actually had to explain to Koveshnikova why I don’t appoint her for the position, because she was in the reserve but I am asking her to go through the voting and debates. She told me: “I will go to the debates if I have the guarantee”. I replied that she will have guarantees. They are that I will review her candidature among the others. And you know something has switched inside her, she started off and won at the end.

- Will the similar practice be continued?

 - In terms of the social block – undoubtedly. Because the specialists that work with people should understand how it works and people should have an opportunity to make an influence on those who will work with them. If Lyubov Nikolaevna won’t “become bronze” she will remember that people supported her. She should remember about this. This is the other aspect of responsibility, - not just in front of me as an employer, but in front of those who has trusted you that. There are two important things here – people are choosing a manager, make an influence on the decisions making. And a specialist who is getting a job, understanding that he was chosen. I think it is ok, why not?

- Can it be possible if the person will win in the internet-voting and televised debates and you will appoint the other one?

 - It is possible because I am the responsible person at the end. It is stated in the law. Some people were worried: we could choose someone unknown and you will have to appoint him. I replied: no, guys, you are choosing the candidates but the final decision is mine.

About the social program

- Let’s look at the one of the major problems of Ugra- baulks problem. Apparently this problem existed and will exist…

 - Wouldn’t like it to be like this! From one side when I say: “we have extended the certain program up to 2015”, most of the people understand it as: “this is good because we are going to continue to solve this problem”. And from the other side there’s nothing good in the continuous programs! I hate it, I want a program where that will be finished one day – together with the problem, of course, but not because there are no funds for its financing. I don’t like long programs and long solutions.

- So for you the result is important, not a process…

 - Absolutely right.

- Not so long ago at the meeting in Pyt-Yah you said that: “you can talk about that the turning point in the solution of the people resettlement from baulks and swing space is over”. What is this turning point?

 - I meant that in the end we call things by its names. We have recognized the problem not only on the level of the talks but on the level of decision making. We talked about it before but didn’t issue any documents according to which these people received the same rights as those who live in the run-down emergency housing. We just didn’t recognize it and were hiding the problem. People who live in the baulks very often are not registered there that’s why they have big issues with the law. They can’t prove the necessity in the housing and this is the most important condition when they have to rely on the state support. These people didn’t have the right for the support because the government didn’t recognize their availability in the legal environment.

But we have found the courage to accept it. There are juridical problems, white spots in the legal system but we took the responsibility and wrote the meaning of “baulk-person” from the law point of view and who of them has the right for the measures of the governmental support. This I called an out-break, the point from where it’s impossible to go back and not to notice these people and their problems.


- What much time and money is needed to solve this problem?

 - Let’s count. We have 10 thousand trailers, there are about 30 thousand people live there, multiply by 12 sq.m., multiply by 36 thousand rubles for one sq.m. It is not less than 13 billion rubles. The annual budget is 140 billion rubles for all our needs. But we will resettle 50% of baulks during 4 years. We should resettle. Today is one year since the start of this program and we can state that it didn’t work in that volume that we expected – for the different reasons including the objective reasons. But the main reason I think is that we didn’t use municipalities to the full extent. Don’t you know they were left out of the problem again for the resolving of which they are being responsible because providing housing to people this is the municipality’s competence.

We’ve taken it out on the regional level, made some sort of volume of support, at the 30% level out of the property cost but municipals seem not to care at all. All are nodding to this program. There is another danger: we gave the subsidy to the person, he has sold his trailer and therefore became the next person on the affordable housing waiting list.

That’s why we are preparing the changes for this program now, we will give the responsibilities to the municipals. I have named few ideas, for instance to increase the amount of subsidy payment presume that the people who live in these trailers for 20-30 years, obviously, can’t resolve this problem independently. This increased amount of subsidy we will pay to those who live on the territory of the localized trailer areas, in terms of which the local authorities made the decision on demolition. By any way, municipals will be taking care of this decision, they will have to make a list, they will have to forejudge those who illegally occupies that housing. They can give away land lots for the complex building and get the investors onboard. The person will get the increased subsidy from the budget, from the investor and the municipality there will be support, but this is the different story.

In this case we are not going to get rid by one trailer but to resolve the problem in the large format. This will be a different effect visually, economically and politically. We will be offering such things to the municipals, and I suppose they won’t have a chance to get out of it. Maybe they will also offer something and we will pleasantly respond because we need to release Ugra from baulks, to resolve this problem. We can’t make another waiting list to happen. This is exactly such opportunity where the problem can be resolved for good.  The affordable housing waiting list will exist anyway for the indigenous small-numbered people and for the young families and please let them not stop! But this thing can be stopped and should be stopped. We have every opportunity.

- Another important social issue is the additional pension fund scheme. The new system of the pension standard introduced in the Okrug, when the authority, employer and the employee lump together all expenses on the additional pension., it looks like the optimized type of the gradually stopping of the “governor’s” additional premium.

 - This is true. Together with that we wanted for people to get used to the self-dependence, to the new system of the pension savings. We have the three-party agreement between the employers, labour union and authority…

- Who represents employers?

 - Ugra employers union.

- I doubt that all the employers are the members of this Union.

 - Why not? This is a good thing. The regional budget itself can’t afford additional pension, so it doesn’t have to be like this, this is not right and impossible. We say that we are civilized, understand everything: how much we earn, - that much we eat. And if it is so then the employer has to move. There is the system on which we have all agreed.

- Are you talking about the social responsibility of the business?

 - Not only about the social responsibility but about the pragmatic process. The cost of the issue is not less than 200 rubles to pay for the employee. This is the minimum, could be more of course. Okrug is responsible to add the same amount from its side. The company – 600 rubles and we 600 rubles, which means up to 1200 rubles on the parity basis, later the employer can add more but without the Okrug’s help. The same thing with the employee, he can add his share increasing in the future the amount of the additional pension fund scheme.

- Later the market will regulate this situation: work for those companies that participate in the pension standard will be much more prestigious, people will hold on to it.

 - Yes, we have to come to this sooner or later. On the West the important thing for the company positioning on the market is this indicator – how much do you spend on your personnel. This is more important than the profit.

- But there is one nuance. Looks like governor’s additional premiums are cutting down but the pension standard is just starting to work. Between these two mechanisms will be the period when the retiring people now can be left out without the governor’s additional premiums and won’t have time to earn for the additional pension on the pension standard.

 - You are absolutely right. There is a certain rebound and the clear regulations are already set up. The pension standard is already operating, that’s why those who will retire next year will get 1200 rubles of the lifelong addition to the basic pension. 600 rubles is the budget share, and 600 rubles is the employers share. There won’t be any savings effect in this case, it will appear only in 2013.

- About the economy. Tell me, what do you think, what directions of the economy are the "points of growth" of Ugra? On what expense will the Okrug be developing in the next 10-20 years? 
- Oil and everything that is associated with it will not disappear. Electric power industry. We're not going to give away our leading position in the power generation, and will simultaneously increase the reliability of energy supply. It also applies to the Surgut GRES and Nizhnevartovsk, and a new object - Nyagan GRES. This is also forest and everything that is connected with it, up to the wild plants, a very large reservoir. Aquatic biological resources ...

Do you know what is the most interesting? I enumerate it and remember feelings of people, when we are talking about it. Boil down to a feeling that it is not enough. Tell me - why? Why Finland lives at the expense of the forest better than we do and that’s enough for them? 

- Maybe the matter is that many of these spheres are weakly developed? 

- It's true. It is necessary to develop it. For example, I want the investor of the forest industry development  to appear in the area. Because everything we do from the point of view of the state, is not effective. State investment in creation of timber resources have not begun to work. Some management companies arrive and do not start projects at full capacity - it cannot continue always.

 - I do not exclude the presence of the state in the economy, but at any given moment, in very specific conditions. The problem of nationalization is solved on the basis of economic and political expediency. A huge number of examples when in a particular country railways are state or privatized, post office is also public or privatized...

- By the way, about the railroads. You probably know how difficult the situation is now in the industry.  Oil workers and builders are suffering, almost the whole economy suffers.

- What we see today is a consequence of restructuring of the industry. But I cannot argue that this is because of the decision that was made. The fact is that the Railways, like the most of our sectors have a huge number of problems. And while everything was as before, it was the lack of vans, but we were used to it. Diagnosed – it’s just a flu, didn’t rest during the illness. When launched the reform – the disease was revealed. Other doctors also began to diagnose.

 - Such an effect presents always when it applies to the reforms. Yes, errors in the algorithm of the reform are possible, it might even go down the wrong path. But the reform still reveals all you illnesses, and calls the names as they are.

 - When I came here for a new job, they said to me, "You're so lucky, the region is wonderful!". It seemed that there should be no problems. But then all the problems were revealed.  Maybe I didn’t know about the problems but perhaps I just looked at them from another point of view that was absolutely new for us.

 - I'm not trying to justify somebody. When making the decision about the reform it was necessary to foresee these risks. It should be discussed. Indeed, reform is not easy. At the same time a list of the risks and a decision in respect of each should be made. But you should take into account the fact that the reform reveals all the problems.

- And in what way may the regional authorities make an influence on the current situation? Building materials, etc. are needed here and right now.

- We are in manual mode forced to solve this problem. It is good that the railway workers are don’t refuse this work. They still have the coordination left.

- Let’s move on from the current issues to the prospects. Is the high-tech development and attracting of venture capital for Ugra an utopia or desired and quite a real future?

- This is our future. Future or lack of it. Perhaps I even exaggerate the importance of development of high technology, but in this case it is better to exaggerate, taking into account our mentality - to do everything in half (laughs - Ed.). We have all the conditions for it. We regulatory, on paper, created a venture fund and the fund to facilitate investment. But as for the venture fund we have not found the support from the federal government yet. That is right because the foundation of promoting investment has not started in full force although there is already federal funding. The mechanism is not yet operating.

- Must the federal money help attracting investments?

- Yes, on the basis of the same co-financing.

- So, the government is saying, we give 50 rubles conditionally, you - the investor  give the same amount and  we can do something on this hundred rubles.

- Absolutely.

- And profit half-and-half? 

- No, why? The investor will have the profit, for the state it is important to create a tax base. There is a little different principle. By joint efforts an institution is established where the management company gets the resources and engaged in professional recruiting and placement of investors. This company is already responsible in front of the investors, it is the western market mechanism. It doesn’t work here yet because there is no such a professional management company. But it will definitely appear, we are solving this problem.

In general Surgut and the countryside need the second auto bridge over the Ob River, don’t they?

- I see that there is a need for its building. But to make a decision, you must first obtain the opinion of experts. Then we'll make a decision - when, where and how to build. But to it is necessary to build.

- Please comment on the situation with the termination from January 1st, 2012 of the rate of transition to the cadastral value of the land. As a result the rental price of land in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug grows in 1.5 times, and the purchase of land in the property will be hardly probable. 

- Yes, I know the problem quite well. The decision has already been made - the amount of stimulating factors will not be changed. Employers will not pay more, we will keep the measure of support. Now I will ask why the initiative appeared according to which another order was made for six months, when you can simply extend the existing standards.

 - (Natalia Vladimirovna asks to join her on the phone with Maxim Shevchenko, director of the Department of State Property Management of Ugra.  Asks him this question. After some discussion Natalia insists that there is no need to make formal changes for a period of six months, when it is possible to extend the existing standards. Asks to provide documents for acquaintance - approx. aut.)

 - I remember there was a period when cadastral valuation was introduced. I had just arrived on the job and there was panic – rents were increased on the order. It was the first conflict I had to solve as the Governor. I understand the concern of entrepreneurs very well, so we will not make any decisions that destabilize the situation.

- About the principles, Ugra and favorite city 

- Tell us, please, about the basic principles that you guide in life and work. What do you expect from the people around you? What helps you to make important management decisions? 

- It is important when people can understand me. This is very important. I cannot do like this: didn’t understand - will not do it. I'm looking for any opportunity to make it clear what I think, the logic of taken decisions was clear. It is important not to prove to myself that I can convince someone. I just know that if people understand me, the decisions will be made as it was intended. It’s a kind of guarantee that everything will be done on schedule.

 - I must know what I'm doing. Sometimes I see a decision in accordance with my experience and intuition - but before I make it, I need to examine the facts of the case. I can make a mistake but I can not make a decision without working through it thoroughly.

 - Another principle - I don’t get offended. This does not mean that I am in the shell and that I do not care about anything. I, as one person, catch everything that goes around. But this is not an obstacle for the relationship and can never be the cause, you know, "and, if you do it, you will not be either the first or the second, and you will not go to the cinema!". I can’t shake your hand -  I can do it but not because I didn’t  forgive you, but because it does not add up to my life principles.

- Do you have a favorite city? 

- I must say, "Surgut" (laughs - Ed.)? It turns out to be that out of all the towns where I lived and worked all are favourite. I love Novy Urengoi. This is not the most beautiful city on earth, but it is a city which I made with my own hands together with a large number of people. I now live in Khanty-Mansiysk, and I love it as the whole Okrug, and Surgut, by the way, as well. I love for the sake what I live. As about Moscow I can’t say that I love this city. Moscow – is a city that lives by itself, and people who use it are on their own too and it is harmonious. In Surgut you cannot live in such a way. In Khanty-Mansiysk you cannot live in such a way.

- You often repeat that Ugra is a "better place to live. Is this positioning of PR or do you really think so? 

-  I do not need a PR for myself but  for Ugra a PR is good. In general this is a real concept that needs to be put into practice. The comfort level in Ugra should be higher than in other regions not to pay attention to our mosquitoes or frost.

 - This task is also for attracting investments. Because investor chooses where to go. There is money - there is business, in terms of economy I believe that business should be close to the markets. So, somewhere in the European part of Russia. What is there? Yeah, and what is in Ugra? Well, I will not get 12 percent of profits but 11 and a half, but it will be a place where I like to live. Safe, comfortable and so on. This is not public relations, it is a pragmatic thing.


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