State Duma passes first version of Northern deliveries bill
© RIA Novosti. Vitaliy Ankov

State Duma passes first version of Northern deliveries bill

The State Duma passed the first reading of the Northern deliveries bill, due to encompass 25 regions of the Russian Federation.

The bill aims to formalize various concepts, including territories covered by Northern deliveries programs and territories with limited freight delivery deadlines. The Government will approve a list of these territories, as per proposals from top regional officials.

“Northern deliveries encompass 25 regions of the Russian Federation which have a rudimentary infrastructure and where freight deliveries are hampered by the severe climate. In some areas we surveyed, it was only possible to deliver vitally important consignments for a few weeks a year. Annually, we deliver over 3.4 million metric tons of vitally important products for three million people in Extreme North communities, as well as in other areas and vicinities that have the same status and limited freight delivery deadlines,” Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov said, while presenting the bill at the State Duma.

Under the bill, there are plans to establish a joint maritime operator for handling Northern deliveries; the operator will facilitate regular freight traffic between coastal seaports. By agreement with a federal coordinator, the operator will approve specific shipping routes and schedules.

The Government will also draw up a list of transport and logistic infrastructure facilities for Northern deliveries. These facilities will be fully financed from 2026. According to preliminary estimates, 7.4 billion rubles’ worth of federal funding will be spent on maintaining, repairing, renovating and overhauling them. This includes federal inland waterways, highways and airfields.

The document also lists various Northern delivery categories. The first category is to include shipments seen as vital for sustaining the everyday activities of the population, the smooth running of social sector organizations, housing and the utility and energy agencies. These shipments include socially-important foodstuffs, consumer goods, medications, other medical items, fuel and energy resources, petroleum, oil and lubricants. A list of first-category shipments is to be approved by the Russian Government.

“There is a long road ahead. On the one hand, the Far East and the Arctic are different regions. On the other hand, they have a similar adverse climate. People take advantage of every opportunity to overcome these difficulties. In some cases, they break the ice, like icebreakers do, and move on. Sometimes they make mistakes, but they use new technologies all the same. Unless we move forward and create new tools, we will fail to support these strong people who are holding our outpost and maintaining the direction of our development. The North and the Far East have tremendous significance, like never before. I believe that these innovations will make it possible to develop the economy, to work more effectively on these territories and, most importantly, to improve the quality of people’s lives,” Alexei Chekunkov noted.