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NOVO OGAREVO, August 15 (Itar-Tass) - Ramazan Abdulatipov, acting head of Dagestan, a republic in Russia’s North Caucasus, said he would seek to ensure security and restore agriculture.
“The republic is working on various reforms. Clean-up and renewal processes across the board are underway,” Abdulatipov said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, August 15.
“Dagestan was fed, but not taken care of, and therefore a lot of malignant cells have multiplied,” he said metaphorically, adding that “Dagestan was fed, but its development was not fostered. It is virtually impossible to find a single institution or source working towards developing the republic. Therefore, we concluded that we need a fundamentally new development strategy.”
Abdulatipov said that he would not ask money from the president for current expenses. “If there are any such requests, they will be aimed at ensuring the region’s long-term development,” he said.
In accordance to Putin’s orders, the leadership of Dagestan has outlined ten development priorities for the region. “If these priority programs are implemented - there are both one-year and three-year program - then in seven to eight years we will be able to triple the size of Dagestan’s economy. Consequently, Dagestan must cease to be a problem region for Russia, but rather become an effective and stable one.”
Putin asked Abdulatipov what vectors of development would be prioritized by the leadership of Dagestan.
Abdulatipov replied that security was the primary objective. “To achieve this, we are currently drafting the Safe Dagestan program together with the FSB, Interior Ministry and other agencies. We must take a completely new approach, not just increase military presence and so on, but introduce modern technology, provide appropriate equipment and analyze the situation in the republic.”
The second area, which Abdulatipov calls “new industrialization”, involves analyzing the current state of manufacturing companies, renovating and sometimes actually creating new enterprises.
The third area is removing out-of-date enterprises from downtown areas. “In particular, Makhachkala is so overcrowded with these that there is no room for normal infrastructure. So we must clear out old industrial sites, and organize playgrounds, parks and so on,” he said.
“We also consider agriculture to be one of our main ladders for climbing out of the crisis. In the early 1990s, Dagestan grew 380,000 tons of grapes. Today we produce 100,000 tons during our best years. In addition, virtually every hectare of vineyard creates four to five jobs. In the coming years we are planning to cultivate over 5,000 hectares, and this means that over 20,000 people will be employed there,” Abdulatipov said.
The republic’s leader said he had spoken with the defence minister about supplying fresh food from Dagestan to the troops, who answered: “If it’s year-round, then I’m all for it.” “Thus we have to provide it year-round,” Abdulatipov said.
There is a number of other areas for development, which should result in a new level of education, a new level of culture, and a new quality of life, he added.
Putin inquired about social indicators such as education, healthcare and salaries in the republic.
Abdulatipov said “we were able to ensure the target level of salaries for teachers, which meant a raise of 14.8 percent. While modernizing healthcare we made sure wages increased accordingly. When I arrived in office, it turned out that increases in wages had been delayed for a few months. I made sure these calculations were made again and everyone was paid the outstanding wages they should have received following your orders.”
Abdulatipov expressed his opinion that “the budget of the Russian Federation provides sufficient funding for the normal functioning of Dagestan's healthcare, education and other systems. Provided that the officials overseeing spending of budgetary funds have honest and impeccable motives.”
Recently Dagestan has received an additional sum of about 2 billion roubles (about 60 million U.S. dollars) from the federal budget, and it is using some of this money to build more than 20 kindergartens.
Abdulatipov believes that the most important result is that “in the past months Dagestan managed to restore people’s trust in the authorities - both at the federal and primarily at the republican level.”
“Today levels of trust are quite high. Therefore, we must work accordingly in order to maintain them,” he said.