State Commission for Arctic Development: regional development strategy until 2035, expanding the Northern Sea Route and renovating Norilsk
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Astapkovich

State Commission for Arctic Development: regional development strategy until 2035, expanding the Northern Sea Route and renovating Norilsk

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev chaired a regular meeting of the State Commission for Arctic Development and issued some instructions to representatives of federal and regional agencies.

For example, he noted that there were plans to submit the Arctic Development Strategy until 2035 to the President for signing as early as July. The document is intended to merge various aspects of national projects and state programs, investment plans of infrastructure companies and development programs of Arctic regions and cities.

At the same time, Yury Trutnev noted that the new Arctic development model, which includes preferences for investors and other mechanisms, has to be created in the next 18 months. "I have also decided to ask the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, and I will abide by the same requirements: No coronavirus and no economic crises should prolong this period, in 18 months everything must be working in the Arctic, and a new model for the macro-region's development has to be created," he noted.

Replying to a question about whether the government might pay less attention to Arctic development matters, including the provision of state project funding and the creation of the required infrastructure, the Deputy Prime Minister noted: "The Arctic is a strategic region of global and paramount importance for Russia and the country's security. I see no reason for revising the state policy."

Yury Trutnev also indicateded that the Government would not alter its plans regarding freight transportation volumes via the Northern Sea Route. "We have no such plans for today. But let's overcome this crisis to begin with and we can start making decisions later on," he said.

In December 2019, the Government approved a plan for expanding the Northern Sea Route's infrastructure until 2035. The document lists the following three main stages: until 2024, until 2030 and until 2035. Specific projects aim to expand the infrastructure for implementing major investment projects and to create favorable conditions for transiting the Northern Sea Route. Other projects are to help resolve medical problems and provide extra personnel for Arctic shipping companies.

The meeting's participants also discussed plans for expanding the Northern Sea Route from the Barents Sea to Kamchatka. This involves the inclusion of a new concept of the Northern Sea Transport Corridor in the Arctic Development Strategy until 2035, more broadly denoting the entire route from Murmansk to Kamchatka. According to Deputy Minister for Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexander Krutikov, specialists from Rosatom, the Ministry of Transport and the Foreign Ministry do not envisage any negative legal consequences to the use of this terminology. However, Yury Trutnev urged his colleagues to give careful consideration to the terminology, but he expressed no objections to the gist of the idea.

Moreover, the Deputy Prime Minister instructed the relevant ministries, the Government of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and specialists of Norilsk Nickel Co. to draft during three weeks an agreed-upon and well-balanced project for the renovation of Norilsk.

The city implemented a two-stage urban development program in 1940-1950 and from the 1960s until the 1990s. Hardly any new construction projects are being carried out in the Extreme North conditions. A program for renovating Norilsk's housing fund until 2035 was drafted to solve this problem. It aims to build about 384,000 square meters of housing or 97 buildings.

Total funding volumes are estimated at 84.9 billion rubles. According to preliminary calculations, the Government of the Krasnoyarsk Territory is ready to finance ten percent of the program or about 8.5 billion rubles. It was intended to finance 40 percent of the program (about 34 billion rubles) over 15 years. In turn, Norilsk Nickel is ready to finance 50 percent of the program, i.e. 42.5 billion rubles.

A representative of the Ministry of Finance who attended the meeting noted that the Krasnoyarsk Territory's co-funding volumes should reach maximum levels and total 25 percent, taking into consideration the region's budgetary potential.

"Of course, we must support the renovation of Norilsk. We implement not so many such projects in the Arctic zone and if the company (Norilsk Nickel) is ready to invest 50 percent in expanding the social sector, then we should thank them and join them in searching for opportunities to implement the project. <… > If there are no people in Norilsk, if they simply start leaving and if there is no one left to work in the city, who will work there? Will the Ministry of Finance go there? Or who? Things won't work out this way. <… > Are there no sources of funding? Please calculate recoupment deadlines for tax proceeds, and if this is profitable, then we need to find sources of funding. If the Russian budget gets investment back, then we need to find funding for this, so that people will live in Norilsk and implement projects," Yury Trutnev noted.