Tankers have been bought, there are places to send them. And when you have more than 80% of oil exports going to India and China, all the ports are used.
The coal miners were somewhat trapped, because it is impossible to haul everything by the Trans-Siberian Railway. For now, the price of coal is not bad, but it is falling. Accordingly, the Ust-Luga coal terminal is full. Part of the flow has been redirected to the Azov-Black Sea basin. And currently Taman is the largest coal port in Russia. Murmansk will be used more widely. Who knows how you haul it – around Scandinavia.
But the carrying capacity of the railways is exhausted in the southern direction – they had not counted on all this. And you have to export, because it is money. There are no impasses – instead of the western direction, we now have a southwestern one. It is Turkey, either by sea to Russia, or by trucks through the South Caucasus. Now, a route is being cut through Iran.
The completion of the railway lines is entirely at Russian expense – they modestly call it a loan – but we have seen so many nonrepayable loans in our lives that there are no illusions.
There are no dead ends. There are unnecessary, often inefficient investments in infrastructure patching. The country is paying for this, and paying dearly. The existing infrastructure is not being used, an alternative one is being created. It’s all budget money.
Since we have touched on the subject of money, don’t you think that its role in recent decades has been somewhat exaggerated? To build something (especially in the Far East), money, of course, does not hurt. But the main thing that is needed is construction workers, construction equipment, building materials. How will the current demographic problems impact all these infrastructure and other projects?
That’s a fair question. Indeed, there is an acute shortage of blue-collar workers. You can just get migrants. But they prefer to deliver food orders in Moscow and St Petersburg, and not cut clearings in the Far East. But most of all, there is a shortage of working professions – crane operators, bulldozer operators, welders. Partially, the problems are being solved through rotations.
But the rotation is not from Moscow, but from Amur Region, Khabarovsk Territory. But there are complaints, and indeed there are not enough construction workers.
You are right, workers are important, but so is money. So, last year 9% of all investments in the country went to the Far East. In previous years, it had been 6-7%.
Now there will be more money from the budget, but hardly from business.
Currently, the only major region for [private] investment is Amur, and we understand why – the border with China. The second is Sakha-Yakutia. Oil, coal, diamonds. Russian business invests where it sees its interests.
The amount of money that the state can spend is not infinite, and the experience of 2014 shows that the emergence of two new regions – Crimea and Sevastopol – meant financial and other resources were redirected there. And now four new subjects have emerged for the Russian budget (the DNR, the LNR, parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions). Obviously, just the rebuilding will require huge resources. How will this affect everyone else?
I would like to get through 2023 and see what will come. But what is already clear: if we take the first quarter and look at grants (dotatsii) – money that can be spent on what local authorities consider necessary – then 29% of all grants to the regions are to the so-called “new territories.” They need gigantic infusions. And that’s not all. The regions themselves, those that are more or less developed, are saddled with “dues” – for big regions they run to billions of rubles.