The Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast

Address by Oksana Kozlovskaya at the 23rd Session of the Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast (September 26, 2013)

Oksana KozlovskayaLarge elections on September 8 which were held in 80 entities of the Russian Federation staffed the Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast of the fifth convocation with two deputies: Tatiana Solomatina and Alexander Borger.

Besides, Tomsk Oblast elected two heads of municipal entities in Molchanovo and Kolpashevo Districts, head of Zonalny Town and 10 municipal deputies. These elections were marked with unprecedented low turnout, primarily in Tomsk. This fact requires analysis and action.

Today two deputies – Vladimir Kazakov and Ivan Klyain – are running for the mayor’s position in Tomsk (the mayoral elections are scheduled for October 13, 2013).

August and September gave us more food for thought
A few days ago Tomsk was visited by Kirill, the Patriarch of all Russia. During the visit some very important statements were made which primarily concern the Church’s role and a special mission of such cities as Tomsk – cities with history and own face. The Patriarch highly praised the work of the region to preserve masterpieces of wooden architecture. This lays special responsibility on the whole Tomsk community to keep and develop these traditions.

The world has come through rough days finding itself within an inch of a severe military conflict in Syria. And only the Russian President’s initiative turned the tide. The global community got the chance to eliminate the conflict by peaceful means. Negotiations are ongoing.

The rise of the Syrian tension eclipsed economic results of St. Petersburg G20. Yet, the reached agreements in global economy, finance, and obligations to reduce unemployment (for the youth in particular) are very important for Russia. The world is obviously searching for new tools to develop the global economy amid the overall tendency for slowdown in economic growth rates. And evidently no rapid growth in economy is foreseen in the years to come.

The Russian government had updated the forecast of socio-economic development of the country and developed a budgetary strategy till 2030 (based on the innovation scenario). The draft federal budget for the next three years has been drawn up.

The Ministry of Finance forecasts contraction in budgetary revenues by 18 per cent by 2030 and in the revenues of the Pension Fund – by over 40 per cent. And the share of oil-and-gas revenues in the GDP will drop by half (from 8.8% to 3.8%). The federal budget and the regional budgets (till 2030) are planned with deficit as well.

The Ministry of Finance considers it necessary to make the budgetary planning more tight. The same approach was used to draw up the Oblast budget for the next three years.

Despite the fact that our region has improved its position in the credit rating among the Russian regions, the growth rates of the major aspects of the region’s socio-economic development will not exceed the last year level according to preliminary estimates (GRP, industrial output, fixed investments, inflation rate).

Let us have a look at just one aspect
Average salary growth rates in Tomsk Oblast have been steadily lagging behind the average Russian rates for several years in a row. What is the reason? It is clear that against the background of the outrunning growth of salaries in the public sector (over 130%), the real economy which employs 65% of the region’s population can neither ensure such growth nor keep the same level of salaries in such areas as construction, utilities and agriculture. Today the Oblast Administration is substantively analyzing salaries in various economy sectors.

Best efforts will be made to find new sources of economic growth, develop civilized accounting approaches and establish honest relations between the government and business.

The Russian government has defined three driving forces of the Russian economy: innovations, investments and productivity gains.

Tomsk economy growth is certainly driven by intelligence and education: higher, vocational and school education. Here Tomsk is traditionally leading in Siberia and Russia. This is proven by Yandex search statistics: most internet users enquire Tomsk along with university.

Two Tomsk universities are in Top15. Their current task is to create and present to the federal structures roadmaps with specific proposals and KPIs. In essence, it means restructuring the entire management and education systems. It is an enormous task and there is not much time. The universities will work with independent experts.
Neither the city nor the Oblast government shall not stand on the sidelines of this project as it has strategic importance for the Oblast. It will be partially funded from the regional budget.

Another aspect – professional education on the regional level
This summer Russia for the first time took part in the WorldSkills Competition 2013 in Leipzig, a kind of Olympic Games for workers. Russia’ debut was a failure – 54th place out of 54. Tomsk Oblast did not participate.
Anyway, the message is clear. The professional education system in Russia and in Tomsk Oblast does not simply require a different approach. It must become one of the national development priorities.

Tomsk Oblast already has a certain foundation. It has resource centers, educational programs, well-established relationships between vocational schools and universities and business. It is very important that the reforms target at closing the gap between the demands of the economy and the quality of training at vocational institutions.
We have already established and launched the Multifunctional Oil and Gas Industry Applied Qualifications Center and will create two more such centers during the next two years – for the construction industry, public utilities sector and water transport. Today, we are considering amendments to the 2013 Oblast budget which include 12 million rubles for the creation of a similar center in our IT Vocational School.
Changes will inevitably affect all municipal entities, companies, instructors, students, and their parents.

Lastly, school education
Recently, a top rating of 500 best schools of Russia was published for the first time. Schools were ranked by the results of the unified exams and school Olympiads. The rating includes two schools from Tomsk – the TSU Lyceum and the Academic Lyceum. The former is listed in Top 25. At the same time, Tomsk Oblast is represented by only two schools whereas the rating features 11 schools from Irkutsk Oblast, 11 from Novosibirsk Oblast, 9 from Kemerovo Oblast, 6 from Krasnoyarsk Krai, 5 from Altai Krai and 4 from Omsk Oblast. There is a lot of discussion questioning the evaluation criteria around this rating now but one thing is clear – Tomsk as a city proudly carrying the Siberian Athens brand can hardly boast such results.
Apparently, a critical review of the current school education situation is required.

The agenda of the 23rd session includes 48 items.

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