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Nykolay Azarov: We have great opportunities

Olga Marchuk
economic observer


Following the President, Prime Minister Nykolay Azarov has decided to report to the press about three years in government. At press conference for central and regional mass-media, which took place on 19 March 2013, head of government has listed achievements, with special emphasis for State program on economy revitalization, adopted at recent Cabinet meeting

Prime Minister believes that this document is, in fact, the program of new industrialization of country, engaging in modernization process almost 400 billion UAH of investment resources. Among examples he cited several objects identified by program. In particular, Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk region, provides for establishment of plant for production of pipes with increased stability. Completing the first phase of Dniester Pumped Storage Station is planned. Much attention is paid to creation of space rocket "Cyclone-4", which, in fact, is regarded as resuscitation of our cosmic power.

Revitalization program provides for production of domestic high-speed trains. Today trials of high-speed trains, which take into account our climatic conditions, at Krukovka plant are almost completed. Large-scale program of railway modernization is provided. Also construction of 17 overpasses on ground with heavy motor traffic is planned.

Given that Ukraine is a huge agricultural country, goal of resuscitation of agricultural engineering is set. Co-production of 400 units of combine harvesters, 1.5 thousand tractors and other sophisticated equipment, introduction of modern production modernization for technological equipment, in particular at Kherson machine-building plant, "Chervona zirka" in Kirovograd region, are planned. Combine harvesters "Skif" are developed and mass production of first models has already started, also joint production in Ukraine of combines type "Klaas" was agreed, annual production of which may be about thousand.

It is planned to construct and reconstruct 153 livestock industry complexes, which will significantly increase livestock production in agricultural enterprises, reduce import of dairy and meat products and create new jobs. Plans are to construct vegetable storage capacity of about 1.5 million tons of storage, five greenhouses with production output of about 0.5 billion UAH, an increase in capacity of oil-fat plant.

On Lisichanskiy glass plant "Proletaryy" in Luhansk region they plan to create large-size sheet of float glass, tempered glass to increase production. It is planned to put into operation production of glass with low emission soft coating. That is, the two-year program of economy modernization and creating new jobs will take economy out of situation in which it is right now. Therefore, task in these two years is to take a very serious effort to modernize and create new industry in Ukraine, new levels and new technological order.

Right to ask the first question was given to regional media, as head of the government initially focused on regional dimension of communication, in fact he can more often meet with journalists of central print editions and television. Question of channel "Ross" representative from Cherkasy region concerned reconstruction of bridge over the Dnieper and main roads Zolotonosha - Cherkasy - Smila - Uman. Before giving a concrete answer, Mykola Azarov said that the government was making every effort to complete construction of two projects, which are close to end. This is a bridge in Zaporozye and Podolsky bridge that links vast area of Troieschyna and city center in Kiev.

"My principle - do not squander resources, but rather concentrate them so that construction of facility is not stretched in time, because it always leads to higher prices” - said Azarov. - As soon as country will have opportunity, we will solve this problem. Problem of bridges over the Dnieper is important not only in Cherkasy, it is relevant in Kremenchug, for example, your neighbor, there is also a desperate need for bridge, and also we know the problem. But this year, I think, lets focus on these two sites, and then think about how to implement those projects".

Next question that interested journalists, was possibility of cooperation in framework of the Customs Union. Nykolay Azarov on this occasion said that the government is negotiating format of cooperation, in which Ukraine will become an observer in CU. He explained that possibility of Customs Union with mission is discussed. Representative of Ukraine will take part in decision making and in advisory capacity. That is, he will not take part in adoption of decision, but he was granted the right to express our position. This form of participation would mean that Ukraine will know in advance any decision on development, from onset of initiative and at all stages of decision making. Premier believes that this form of participation in the Customs Union retains Ukraine's sovereignty in decision making.

"What is Customs Union for us? Only with Russia we have a turnover of $65 billion, with the European Union is much less - about $50 billion. That is for our economy issues of trade turnover, normal trade and economic relations with countries of the Customs Union are, if you want, survival issues. And those measures that TU countries sometimes used, protecting market, are very painful for our economy. Therefore, we make very serious effort to ensure that such measures are as small as possible", - concluded the Prime Minister.

Journalists also were interested with prospects of new sports complex for EuroBasket in Lvov. They noted that today "Lviv Arena" is empty and Lvov airport is loaded by only 8%. But only for maintenance of "Lvov Arena" 10 million UAH are allocated from state budget per year. In response, Nykolay Azarov asked: "Who is building such facilities as airport or runway on basis of today's bandwidth? If such a facility is built - it's built for 100-200 years ahead, by 50 at least. Can you predict what will be freight and passenger traffic in 50 years in Lvov?" The prime minister said that feasibility study, which was based on terminal of airport, said that in coming years it will be loaded. As for stadium, he said that he was "very sorry for Lvov direction, and city and region, having received, in fact, gift from state as a modern complex that they can not manage it in a businesslike way".

Another question concerned tripartite consortium to manage the gas transport complex and sharp reduction in amount of payment for gas in February, which totaled more than 160 million, although this amount is usually about $1 billion. In response the Prime Minister said: "The tripartite consortium primarily depends on third side. We are ready, Russia is ready. Where is the third party? The President talked about this being in Brussels, the government has said this on many occasions: where EU support this form of cooperation on management of the gas transportation consortium? We are three years of talking about it. Tell me, how long we have to wait? We almost come to the point when you have to make a decision".

Concerning prepay for gas in February, head of government noted that outcome was a harsh winter. But now, as we are through a very unfavorable winter, with lots of alternating transitions, precipitation, snow, and saw that we can save gas consumption - why do we need more?

During press conference they also read out questions that were sent to the prime minister at Facebook. One of them addressed issue of possible shortages of drugs in connection with licensing and projections for future. Nykolay Azarov assured that there will be no deficit. But at the same time protested, "Do you think that in government at all levels are people, who do not go to pharmacies or do not have parents? Do you think that such decision can be made without detailed analysis of this decision consequences? "

According to him, any decision, unfortunately, always contains risks and negatives. After that he brought a few numbers in Kiev, Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lvov, Kharkiv and Kherson characterizing Ukrainians welfare. For example, according to his data, average fee for one-room apartment in Kiev in 2011 was 292 UAH 60 kopecks., in 2012 - 293 UAH 93 kopecks. Three-room apartment in 2011 cost 732 UAH 38 kopecks., in 2012 - 734 UAH. In 2009, entire payroll in country was 289 billion UAH. In 2012 - 482 billion, which is bigger by 1.7 times. Expenditures dynamics of the Pension Fund was: 2009 - the entire pension fund was 169 billion, in 2013 - 252 billion, which was by 83 billion more. That is, changes of 2013 relatively to 2009 are about 150%.

And where are these additional billions to go? For example, therapist from Ivano-Frankivsk in 2009 received salary of one thousand 54 UAH, in January - 2 thousand 533, which is about 1.5 thousand UAH more. Teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk gets 2 thousand 744 UAH, and three years ago it was 1 thousand 328 UAH, which is 1 thousand 415 UAH per month more. In Donetsk, teacher's salary is 3 thousand 648 UAH, in Kharkiv - 3 thousand 462 UAH, in Kherson - 2 thousand 443 UAH, etc. This salary is much higher than it was in 2009.

A journalist from Kherson questioned regarding state support for reconstruction of international transport corridors and production values for ​​ "Skiff" harvesters. Nykolay Azarov noted that position on "Scyff" is included in program of economy revitalization and there will be government support. With regard to transport direction, then, unfortunately, road sector is in very poor condition. Main reason is that we exploit road network, built long and designed for very different intensity, speed, load movement. "The direction you are talking about, we know, and will be reconstructed and built" - assured the Prime Minister.

Journalists also were interested in possibility of establishing more comfortable communicating with press and ministers during Cabinet meeting. Prime Minister promised that they will create graph in which the ministers will meet to answer questions, discuss, work of press services will be greater for public to be aware of what is going on in particular ministry.

Press representative from Nadvirna town, Ivano-Frankivsk region, asked about issue of providing PJSC "Naftohimik Carpathians" with oil, as well as issues on OGPU "Nadvirnanaftogaz" and PSC "Ukrnafta" activity, measures to avoid layoffs. Nykolay Azarov agreed that it is not an easy question, because today created an environment where import of light oil products in Ukraine is cheaper than oil processing at our facilities. "There is only one way out: to invest in modernization of these plants and produce oil and cost-effective fuel at current price and level of export duty that can compete with the Belarusian, Lithuanian, and others. We are now doing that"- said the head of government, and added that he have not heard about reductions, but is willing to investigate situation.

Next question that interested journalists, was possibility of reaction of the Ukrainian government on introducing a tax on investments by Cyprus. "What would you like to hear about the reaction?" - answered Nykolay Azarov with question on a question, adding at the same time that decision on global scale is very risky for the whole financial and banking system. In his view, this issue requires a very fast reaction of Cyprus authorities, because the longer debate will last, uncertainty will exist, the more it will rock the situation. However the Prime Minister said that this decision "will not have such serious consequences for us, as, for example, for Russian capital". Also, in his view, in this negative step, at first glance, there is a positive that will lead to the fact that our business is to think very carefully with concerns about our system reliability.

Another Facebook user inquired about possibility of opening children's hospitals in areas like "Okhmatdet” in the capital. In response, Nykolay Azarov pointed out that "Okhmatdet" is a central children's clinic of our country, not Kiev. There's a building now built that will allow oncohematological surgery, bone marrow transplantation. Child toxicology building is already commissioned, together with modern design of pediatric cardiac surgery. But this does not mean that other regional centers remain without support. Quite large program of modernization of our medicine is set, in past three years huge share of the resource have been invested there. There is a task for each regional center – to create modern diagnostic and treatment centers.

A journalist from the Chernivtsi region asked when the government will be able to find funds to complete construction of Europe's largest hydroelectric power plant, which is under construction for 27 years. Premiere answer was short and concise: "This year, we will take the second turn, necessary money are set in budget". Along the way, Nykolay Azarov raised questions of unfinished buildings in Kiev, in particular, road interchange at Moscow area, upgrading rail line for speed tram. "All unfinished objects that we defined in March 2010, were finished very shortly, including such complex objects like Darnitskiy bridge", - said the Prime Minister.

"Why should I tell it? We have quite great opportunities. It is important that we together believe in it and work. Let’s argue less that this is difficult, it's all bad. Yes, of course, it is difficult. But all this is possible and real", - concluded the Prime Minister.

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