The Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast

January 30, 2014. Address by Oksana Kozlovskaya
at the 27th Session of the Legislative Duma of Tomsk Oblast

Duma Chairman Oksana Kozlovskaya opened the session with greeting Tomsk Oblast Governor Sergey Zhvachkin, deputies and guests, and summarizing the results of the first month of a new parliamentary year.

The Speaker could not leave unnoticed the situation in Ukraine. "For over a month, we all have been following the events taking place in Ukraine. The peaceful and non-violent stage of the conflict is over. There are barricades in the center of Kiev. There are first casualties, too. Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov resigned. We Russian people cannot remain unmoved by those events. For centuries Ukraine has been closely historically and economically tied to Russia. Our country has taken a position of "pointed non-involvement“ as the Russian President explained at the Russia-EU summit in Brussels."

Two major global economic forums took place in January: Davos in Switzerland and Gaidar Forum in Moscow.

The participants in the forums shared a belief that the global economy had already got over the post-crisis recovery and needs new sources of growth. Even though there are different opinions on who will lead global economic growth, everybody agrees on the major risks faced by the global economy. They are structural unemployment, enormous income gap and environmental threats (such as shortage of fresh water).

Experts are unanimous in the opinion that the solution lies in making sure that as many as possible individuals benefit from economic growth. But how could it be done?

While in Davos, for the first time over the recent years, talks focused on positive changes in the global economy (first of all, in leading economies such as the US and the UK), discussions on Russian economic progress at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow had less optimistic results. Russian Prime Minister admitted that "the national economy has hung up".

GDP growth rate will not exceed 2.5% in the next couple of years. Key resources such as commodity materials and low-cost workforce have been exhausted. Salaries grow faster than labor productivity. The economic slowdown has resulted in the weakening of the ruble. For the first time over the last 5 years it has reached absolute minimum.

The Russian Government has proposed several ways to get over the crisis.

Moving from a demand side economy to a supply side economy is key. Then, discontinuing uncontrolled growth of salaries and public investments, stimulating private investments in the construction of new production facilities and modernization of the existing plants and factories.

Given all those changes, the national policy in the labor market shall change dramatically, too. The emphasis should be shifted from promoting employment at all costs as it was during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, to reskilling people and facilitating their moving to the regions where there are jobs and business demand for human resources. Simply speaking, people should be ready and willing to change not only their jobs and professions but also their homes. The rules of this game are totally different.

Today, the Duma has been working with the Administration of the region on the legislation plan for 2014. The new challenges dictate closely focusing on the improvement of the strategic package - the region’s economic development strategy and government programs.

But! The major goal is the same. It is the quality of life and subsequently, better competitiveness of an individual.

Russian President proclaimed 2014 the Year of Culture.

Global experts say that 70% of innovations in the world come from non-technology sectors and culture has long ago become a standalone industry. The economy of culture is first and foremost the economy of leisure time.

Over the last 100 years people have grown to work 3 times lass hard. However, labor intensity varies by country. That’s a global trend. Russia is no exception. There exists a huge market of leisure time services with its own rules, values and quality of ambience. People tend to move to large cities attracted by interesting lifestyle, especially the young. We have to take that into account.

By the same token, the key priorities of the Year of Culture in Russia are development of the cultural environment in small cities and towns, preservation of ethnic cultures, revival of rural professionals. I suggest, we also develop our vision of the development of the region’s policy of culture in 2014 and include it in the 2014 Legislation Plan. The 2014 Oblast budget has 1.2bn rubles for those purposes. It is 2.3% of total expenditures vs 0.7% on the national scale.

Oksana Kozlovskaya proposed to establish five annual Companion to Culture Grants of Tomsk Oblast Duma.

"I would like to remind you that the year 2014 carries three big anniversaries for our region: Tomsk Oblast - 70 years; Tomsk - 410 years; Tomsk Oblast Duma - 20 years. This year we are holding many momentous events: Federal Sabantuy, Slavic Film Festival, Tomsk Ethnic Forum, U-NOVUS Forum. Tomsk will "sound" - in Siberia and across the country - and we will do our best to make it sound loud and meaningful.

And the last point. Sochi Olympics are the biggest highlight of the coming month. Tomsk volunteers already took their flight to Sochi. Please wish them success at the Games and many memorable and convincing victories to our athletes!"

The agenda contains 42 items, including 35 bills.

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