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Khloponin: three problems and four clusters2010-03-01 23:30
North Caucasus Presidential Envoy, Vice PM Alexander Khloponin continues familiarizing himself with the region he has taken charge of. Recently he singled out three major problems in Caucasus: excessive state funding, a high level of unemployment and corruption. To change the situation the envoy's plan is to focus on four clusters of development in Caucasus - energy, tourism, agriculture and education. How efficient will Khloponin's methods turn out to be?
It will be remembered that over a month ago Alexander Khloponin took over as the president's envoy in the new federal district comprising Russia's most troublesome territories: Stavropol Territory, Chechen Republic, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia and North Ossetia. Over this time Khloponin has become acquainted with the region under his control defining main problems of North Caucasus.
According to official information North Caucasian republics' dependence on Russia's appropriations-in-aid is truly colossal. For instance it accounts for 90% (!) of Ingushetia's budget. In Kabardino-Balkaria federal funds and internal expenses divide the budget in two. Overall there have been RUR 170 billion coming to North Caucasus from the Russian budget while tax yield amounts only to 1%.
Obviously the figures above are directly linked to another critical issue of the region - corruption. The number of revealed bribery cases among Caucasian officials increased by 4% in 2009, Trud reports. A high level of unemployment can't be neglected either. Only half of Ingushetia's population has jobs, only 2/3 in Chechnya.
Social and economic development of North Caucasus that must make the republics less dependent on the federal budget is among Alexander Khloponin's priority tasks. So far the region doesn't seem to realize that. Giving a warm welcome to the new envoy local managers demonstrated their plans and estimation of funds needed for development of their subordinate territories, Interfax reports. However, summarizing the figures the envoy was utterly surprised. "According to preliminary information provided by the republics the amount of required appropriations exceeds RUR 500 billion, which is sheer insanity", - Khloponin said.
According to the new envoy the region must progres in four directions. First it's the energy cluster (the term Khloponin uses). "With quite high energy potential we have in our North Caucasian republics we face real deficit in wintertime and surplus in summer" - he is quoted on Caucasus Online. Khloponin believes that massive defaults on payment from mediators are passed over to other regions and are eventually reflected in tariffs.
According to the envoy another priority direction is promotion of tourism and recreation sector. Alexander Khloponin is convinced that North Caucasus has a huge potential in this sphere referring to all kinds of ski and health resorts. Another cluster is agro-industrial complex with the state, as Khloponin remarks, providing active help to manufacturers. Educational sphere was the next item on his list. "We must form a new youth environment, a new climate. There are lots of gifted, well-educated people coming from North Caucasus", - he highlighted. - We must introduce new modern standards of education that we presently lack".
On the whole, Khloponin believes the outlined tasks can be solved with an inflow of investments. He claims to have exact ideas referring to Oleg Deripaska's intention to construct a chain of airports in North Caucasus.