Georgy Kamnev: Penza region done nothing pride-worthy in 2014
Penza, 9 April 2015. PenzaNews. Georgy Kamnev, deputy of the Penza region Legislative Assembly, first secretary of the Communist Party regional committee, has analyzed the official statistic data and concluded that the region has nothing to be proud of in the past year since all the registered indices have dropped.
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“The 2014 industrial production index of Russia over all grew by 1.7% since 2013, by 2% in the Volga Federal District, and by as much as 7.4% in the Penza region. But this is no record: for example, the republic of Mariy El has shown the industrial growth of 13.6%, and Chuvashiya – 4.5%. All the other regions of Volga has shown much less growth, some even showing a drop. Do you know what the rating leaders have in common? These three regions will hold gubernatorial elections in September 2015. A coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe the local authorities are sending ‘beautified’ reports to Moscow before the elections, hoping the top brings down the praise for such ‘good’ results,” Georgy Kamnev commented for PenzaNews agency, offering to analyze the basis behind the statistics in detail.
According to him, the dynamics of industrial production rating throughout the year changed in a very curious pattern.
“Each month before October was very mundane. And then suddenly the index started growing through the three last month, 20% each time. Seems at the very least strange, doesn’t it. And if we see the section ‘Processing Industry,’ it showed the growth of even above 20% in Q4 2014. But something seems amiss. The industry uses electricity, water and natural gas. The statistic for their consumption is much more honest and based on actual indications, unlike the ‘industrial production index’ which is calculated on its own. And if the industry production grows, the energy consumption should also grow. But the consumption levels in 2014 dropped by 8.5% compared to 2013. One more ‘oddity’ of statistic to the list – the industry seems to work harder, but consumes much less resources,” said the speaker.
Moreover, according to the leader of the Penza Communists, the serious production growth should also affect car shipping industry.
“But there is also a drop: by 1.7% (in rubles). Oil and oil products shipping dropped by 18.4% in tons. The last figure is the one that we should use to define the actual shipping rate drop in the Penza region,” he explained.
An industry company, Georgy Kamnev reminded, should sell the products either internally or through export.
“The export has dropped by more then twice in last two years: from $306.5 million in 2012 to $136.9 million in 2014, and over two thirds of this sum was obtained in our neighboring CIS countries that are much less demanding in terms of quality. Which means the Penza producers failed to rise the attention of the foreign buyers. Our industry workers are badly losing the global competition race, shedding the market share like hair. The Penza region holds the ‘honorable’ second-to-last place in the Volga Federal District on export, winning only over Chuvashiya with $136.4 million. Even the smaller republics like Mordovia and Mariy El produce more goods for export than us,” said the Penza region Legislative Assembly deputy.
The internal market situation, he noted, leaves as much to be desired.
“The retail sales volumes reached 177.4 billion rubles in 2014, with a growth index of 2.6% and wholesale volume growth of 3.7%. However, if we take the actual price inflation into account, we see the retail and wholesale volumes are in fact dropping. In particular, even with the relatively low official inflation rate the industry good sales dropped by 0.6% in actual prices. And the drop will be larger with actual inflation rate. Which means that statistics seemingly show growth of retail and wholesale markets, while in reality they are dropping,” Georgy Kamnev concluded.
In his opinion, the answer is obvious: according to Georgy Kamnev, the best “industry” in the Penza region was statistics that drew positive conclusions out of negative results.
“The retail food sales levels reached 82.3 billion rubles, with a 0.6% decrease compared to 2013. December showed the best growth, with an increase in ruble sales by 17.2%. However, there are two reasons behind that: price growth, and New Year preparations. Even the official statistic admits we started to consume less food, and with actual inflation, the decrease is even bigger. The non-food sales reached 95 billion ruble with a growth of 5.4%. But the main growth, again, was in December, at 20.4%. You can recall how the customers were swiping the appliance store shelves clean, fearing the price rise. There is your growth. Without this panic, there would have been a drop incoming,” the first secretary of the CPRF regional committee guessed.
He also analyzed several other important figures.
“The import volume reached $163 million, with $129.6 million from the far abroad, and the rest from the CIS countries. If we compare export ($136.9 million) with import ($163 million), we see the negative balance of $26.1 million, or 1.5 billion rubles. Inflation rate reached 10.9% for consumer goods, 15.4% for food, and 9.8% for housing bills. The prices grew by 10% in industry and 13.2% in agriculture. The average salary was at 22,600 rubles, with only 19,000 in agriculture. The minimal cost of a month’s food supply was set at 2,768.60 rubles, and the officials somehow believe a man is able to live on this sum for a month. How would they like to try it on their own! And the overall minimum wage with housing bills and so on is 6,517 rubles, and only 5,408 rubles for the elderly persons,” Georgy Kamnev stated.
In his opinion, the demography of the Penza region is yet another reason for disappointment.
“A decrease of 4,800 persons in population, and there are 475 elderly persons for 1,000 working people. This is the largest level in the Volga Federal Districts. In the Penza region, very few people give birth, and people who can work choose to move to other regions. People emigrate rather than immigrate. The Penza region has very little to be attractive in terms of employment,” explained the CPRF Legislative Assembly deputy.
At the same time, he suggested, the region’s healthcare system has its own issue, publicly known as “optimization.”
“We have dedicated many articles to how they planned cut down on village hospital in the next reform. Now the medical assistants to receiving doctors were disbanded. Before, a doctor inspected the patient, sometimes using the expensive equipment such as the one installed in the dedicated Penza medical centers, and the medical assistant took notes. Now, the doctor that took the state-expensive education courses not only does the inspection but also takes notes on their own, the work that does not require any special skills. According to specialists, this changed made them be able to inspect 3 to 5 times less patients. But who cares about the sick, if the Ministry of Health can report the optimization goes well and they saved more million rubles?” Georgy Kamnev asked.
The leader of the Penza Communists paid special attention to the agricultural industry of the Penza region, giving several figures of 2014.
“Crop yield is 1,258,500 tons, or 97.5% of 2013. The sugar beet harvest is 1,275,700 tons, or 68.8%. The sunflower harvest is 220,800 tons, or 86.3%. The potato harvest is 559,800 tons, or 103.1%, but there is a desperate demand in marketable potatoes: they must have added in the dacha potato harvest that is impossible to audit. Now, the cattle industry. Meat cattle and poultry production is at 103.2%, milk production is at 93.2%, and egg production is at 82.2%. Why the growth in meat cattle and poultry production? The cattle herds decreased by 8.9%, and pig herds decreased by 12.5%,” the speaker explained.
In his opinion, the more the officials call the Penza region an agricultural domain, the worse is the situation in the agricultural industry.
“At present, the agricultural industry holds only a 10.3% share in internal regional product structure. For example, the processing industry is responsible for 19%, wholesale traders – for 15%, transportation and communication – for 12.2%, real estate management – for 10.4%, and construction – for 10.1%. Agriculture is only the fifth most valuable industry,” Georgy Kamnev elaborated.
According to him, the suggestions of the Penza region authorities do develop the fishing industry also give off a very peculiar air.
“The Penza region delegations have made numerous trips to Israel, Turkey, UAE and so forth to attract the investors. This rises a question: do we have anything to show the investors? We ship fish for 1.5-2 million rubles monthly, and employ only a bit more than 200 persons in industry. Why would we need to develop a completely odd-ball fishing industry, where we have neither the cadres nor the facilities? Maybe there is a market opening? No. The production levels decrease, and the competition is tough. Moreover, this industry like many others require great investments, especially for building from scratch. So why do we need all this? There is no rational explanation. I think there was only one reason: its statistic will be very impressive. We had produced very little there, and now we invest big money, spend time and boost the present volume by 2 million rubles from fish sale. And there you have the 100% growth! All this has been done to impress the Moscow officials, to boast it on local TV channels and all ‘court’ newspapers. And of course no one will say the expenses for abroad trips and talks were much over the profits. And the fishing industry sides next to the odd suggestion to develop rabbit breeding – with not even a line in statistic to this industry, no information on specialists, facilities, sale channels – or even moose breeding. No comment on the last one,” the speaker added.
In summary, he said that the aforementioned figures show the Penza region has made no significant achievements during the past year.
“The Penza region has done nothing pride-worthy in 2014. Nearly all monitored figures dropped, but the figures ‘calculated’ in the statistics department show growth. To change the situation, the authorities should start with getting taxes from those who try to hide their profits. For example, if we see the office rent agreements, we may find out some of them rent space for 50 or even 30 rubles per square meter, which is obviously falsified. The actual prices, 500 to 1,000 rubles per each, is not reported to the tax service and therefore does not bring any taxes. I think we first should create a passport for each object of rented real estate and compare actual profits of their owners with their tax declarations. The problem is, most of them are more likely to be men of good money, among them being the deputies, the large officials or their relatives, and they will do their best to prevent it. Only the CPRF representatives will be able to do it,” Georgy Kamnev concluded.