The Gudok newspaper has published an editorial penned by Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Mikhail Pryadilnikov about the Spatial Development Strategy. The projects included in the strategy may get additional financing from the federal treasury, the newspaper notes.
The Target Scenario Is to Be Written Locally
The Spatial Development Strategy is a top level document defining the
development priorities for various types of infrastructure in an
all-encompassing comprehensive manner that takes into account how those
different types of infrastructure are linked to each other and regards them for
the entire territory of the country, Mr. Pryadilnikov writes in his editorial.
The basic idea is to remove any and all infrastructure constraints in the
socio-economic development of the country's various regions. And the document
doesn't only focus on the transport infrastructure, it also looks at the energy
and telecommunications infrastructure.
Multiple Russian governmental industry specific programs often regard every specific sector separately, without taking into account the fact that different types of infrastructure can have a profound effect on each other and that their development could be synchronised not only with each other but also with the projects aimed at developing specific territories where the elements of those infrastructures are found. This means that sometimes no commutative effect can be achieved. Once the new strategy is adopted the industry specific programs will have to be brought into alignment with it.
The new document defines the top priorities for the socio-economic development of the territories where railway and transport infrastructures must be developed first over the next six years as well as for more long term development plans. These include the areas dominated by urban agglomeration of varying sizes, both large ones as well as relatively small ones. These are essential transportation projects that aim to bring transportation service to the territories where the bulk of this country's population live and where most of the country's economic and production activities are clustered. This means modern infrastructure is needed for passenger and cargo transport alike, which includes the construction of new terminal and logistics facilities and the development of high speed transport. A related goal is the development of communication routes between major future centers of economic growth.
Apart from highly urbanized areas, growth areas and priority infrastructure development areas also include key mineral resources and agricultural industry centers. On the other hand, the strategy calls for the development of railway and transport infrastructure in those territories of Russia that are regarded as geographically strategic. These projects aim to ensure the country has enough transportation links between its regions and that all remote and hard-to-get to regions such as the Far East, the Arctic, the North Caucasus and the Crimea have comfortable transportation access.
Naturally, the projects included in the strategy have the option of getting additional funding. And in this respect, we need to be looking at the document that backs up the strategy, namely, the comprehensive Plan for the modernization and expansion of the country's transport infrastructure through 2024, which was ratified earlier in September 2018, but which was developed at around about the same time as the strategy and is regarded as one of the mechanisms for its implementation. The comprehensive Plan includes key transport (railway, aviation, roads, sea and river transport) and energy infrastructure development projects. In effect, it is yet another national project that was approved by the president and the government last year.
As part of its implementation lists of specific activities and projects are being developed and approved now, those that are explicitly mentioned in the plan, while the amount and methods for their financing are being elaborated. The projected funding needed for the implementation of the transport part of the comprehensive Plan at the time of its approval and including the additional financing needs was estimated at about RUB 6.3 trillion with the money expected to come from all possible sources.
The document envisions two spatial development scenarios: one based on inertia and one based on specific priorities and targets. In my opinion there is every chance to implement the second priority based scenario.
However, this can only happen on condition that we have an effective system for implementing various plans and specific activities included in the strategy and that we have clearly defined and working financing mechanisms for our priority projects. A lot depends on this. Because of the lack of a good financing system a lot of strategic documents have been completely discredited with the priorities outlined in them now being regarded as little more than tentative wish lists.
That's the most important factor that is going to decide whether or not we can carry off the target based scenario. An implementation plan should be adopted for the strategy as well as the measures to ensure that all the projects of the comprehensive Plan get implemented, and in the meantime, the existing industry and regional state programs must be updated with regards to the activities and financing priorities set out in them.
Another factor that can affect the implementation of the target based scenario is this: regional governments must take specific action to help achieve the priority targets. It's the right thing to do under the circumstances, especially seeing how the strategy was developed in close cooperation with regional governments and how many of them are interested in participating in co-financing schemes with the federal government to implement ambitious development projects in their territories, including the ones that seek to expand various types of infrastructure.
Thus, the strategy calls for the synchronisation in time and space of the construction or modernization of federal transport infrastructure with the construction and modernization of regional and local transport infrastructure. For that to happen, regional governments must approve their own comprehensive regional infrastructure development plans. Furthermore, governments also need to coordinate these plans with business, at least with companies that the state has a stake in. Among other things, the activities of the comprehensive plan and the comprehensive regional infrastructure development plans must be included in the investment programs of natural regional monopolies.
The strategy, like any other government documents, can be revised or updated, including with regards to specific targets, if changing circumstances warrant such changes. A decision to do that can be made by the government on its own imitative or after the plan is reviewed by some federal agency or ministry. However, it's through revising the strategy implementation plans that we can respond to changes in the situation faster and with more flexibility.
Photo from open sources