Yakutia's authorities: Arctic development strategy will improve Northern supplies system

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The national plan includes the construction and reconstruction of regional, inter-regional automobile roads

YAKUTSK, January 21. /TASS Correspondent Dmitry Osipov/. The implementation of the federal strategy for development of the Russian Federation’s Arctic Zone to 2035 will radically reform the Northern supplies’ mechanism, Yakutia’s authorities and experts told TASS.

In October, 2020, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed a strategy for development of the Russian Federation’s Arctic Zone to 2035. Among its priorities are – higher living standards and bigger support for people living in the Arctic. One of the directions is to upgrade the Northern supplies’ system. In February, 2023, a bill on Northern supplies will be presented to the State Duma.

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“The federal strategy’s implementation is aimed at a radical upgrade of the Northern supplies’ system to improve the logistics and quality of transported goods. Higher living standards in the North are impossible without investments in a big upgrade of that system,” Head of the Yakut parliament’s committee on the North’s low-numbered indigenous peoples and the Arctic Elena Golomareva said.

According to Yakutia’s Minister for development of the Arctic and for affairs of the North’s peoples Vladimir Chernogradsky, the federal strategy is aimed at regulative, economic and technological aspects of the supplies’ mechanism. The comprehensive condition for implementation of most Arctic projects is the Northern Sea Route’s development, and the development of its coastal infrastructures.

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“The national plan includes the construction and reconstruction of regional, inter-regional automobile roads. On the agenda is the construction of the Yana road to Yakutia’s border with the Chukotka Region,” the minister said. “We focus on the regulations and financing of making the seasonal winter roads.” The plan also pays special attention to development of the regional aviation services, he added.

Market’s impact

Retail prices in Yakutia’s Arctic settlements remain 2-3 times higher than in the region’s other districts. The locals have to spend about a half of their income on food. At times, even vital products’ supplies may be unreliable. Experts say, only a certain involvement of the government may improve the situation.

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According to Deputy Chairman of the North-Eastern Federal University and a member of the Russian Federation’s Arctic Zone’s Public Council Alexander Kugayevsky, before 1991 the summer supplies were a combination of activities to plan, organize, manage and control strictly preparations, accumulation and transportation of material resources and goods for people living in the North’s far-away districts.

“The supplies’ planning began in November of the previous year, and from January started the movement of resources and goods for the Northern regions,” he said. “The organizing procedure included preparations of all transportation means, communication lines, warehouses, and their precise cooperation in the campaign. As the navigation on the Northern rivers and sea passages opened, all cargo flows began moving towards the North’s far-away districts in compliance with a certain schedule.”

Such an approach guaranteed timely and full deliveries of all the cargo, as well as affordability, and excluded losses and high costs for deliveries and seasonal storage. “In the current conditions, we, first of all, must have a state policy for guaranteed supplies of vital products and medications to the districts across the Russian Federation, where transportation options are limited in time,” the expert said. “The policy must outline approaches to quality of life in the North and in the Russian Federation’s Arctic zone.”

These approaches must be used in work on a concept of state support and organization of guaranteed vital food and medical supplies to people in the districts with limited transportation options.

“Both documents must be reflected legally in regulations for planning, organization and management of the Northern supplies,” the scientist said. “The document must offer rules for state incentives and regulations for the cooperation between participants in the Northern supplies.”

Reforms in Yakutia

Yakutia’s parliament reports the region finances only 15% of the Northern supplies. The remaining funding comes from small and medium businesses, which do not receive any subsidies to compensate for the transport expenses. Yakutia has undertaken a few steps to reform the system. The reform began from the food supplies to the Arctic population. According to Governor Aisen Nikolayev, by 2024 the region will open trade-logistics centers in all the Arctic districts.

The program to build trade-logistics centers began in 2019. The region merged Yakutopttorg (with its shops and warehouses) and Tuimaada-Agrosnab (with its fleet and vehicles). The two companies used to have similar functions and were involved in supplies to the Arctic districts.

Due to the construction of the trade-logistics centers in Yakutia’s Abuisky and Ust-Yansky Districts, the prices on basic food products dropped by 20-25% against 2019. The centers are equipped to store fruit and vegetables, they have deep-freezing facilities, warm warehouses, and trade areas.

Bill on summer supplies

Earlier, Russia’s Minister for Development of the Far East and Arctic Alexey Chekunov told reporters the bill’s key task is to guarantee safe life, health, and better living conditions for people living in such districts, and to offer a comprehensive system of state incentives for the companies, participating in the Northern supplies.

The new legal act should list responsibilities at all levels regarding monitoring of the supplies, including those for shift workers and special accommodation towns, which are beyond control of the local administrations.

The bill must offer procedures to buy the goods for future supplies, to transport, handle, store and sell the goods at prices the local population may afford, the minister added.

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