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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sweep areas from tourists

Putin ordered to cease the creation of new special economic zones (SEZ), and ten operating to eliminate. From half of the clusters, according to the presidential control Directorate, no good there — some losses and inefficient spending of public money. Often the opening of the SEZ was more of a “tribute to fashion”, regional PR managers than real concern about the economy. Until the end of June the government should develop a unified strategy of zones, including optimization of budget investments”. After that, it will become clear what is their fate and how many such areas will remain.

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

No call, and the bell for 34 operating in Russia special economic zone was made at the end of last year, when Putin instructed the government to check the effectiveness of spending in the SEZ. His mission he was accompanied by the words, that the allocated money spinning banks “to obtain profits, it is unclear where going”. Indeed, for 11 years, almost none of the goals of the law “On special economic zones has not been achieved.

“Stimulation of regional development”. The share of revenues of the residents of the SEZ is only 0.2% of the gross regional product of the actors where they work. It turns out, the contribution is close to zero.

“Creating new jobs”. In all SEZs was organized about 18 thousand jobs. It spent almost 190 billion rubles of Federal and regional money. Every job is a gold, 10.2 million rubles. In this case the return from the tax and customs payments for a total of 40 billion rubles. That is a complete minus.

“Attracting foreign investment”. 99% invested in the SEZ or in the public funds, or domestic companies. The clusters, which has funded private business, the most successful.

The Ministry of economy say that the notorious “unnecessary” SEZ — it is rather the average temperature in the hospital. All smeared with black paint is not worth it. Officials prepare annually a report evaluating several groups of indicators of activity of management companies, residents, quality of investments, etc. the leaders of the rating are site relating to “industrial” and “techno-vnedrencheskogo” type “Alabuga” in Tatarstan, Lipetsk, Dubna, Zelenograd SEZ with last year’s highest scores. Outsiders — port workers and tourists.

It is the latter which turned out to be at risk. The exact list of standing “on the flight” has not yet been disclosed. Perhaps in the “black list” will be a port SEZ “Murmansk”, a number of resorts in the North Caucasus tourism cluster, as well as the “Russian Island” (Primorye), “Gate of Baikal” (Irkutsk), where despite it is allocated 12 billion roubles, is carried out.

The elimination of the existing tourist SEZ has happened before. For example, in the Krasnodar region, Kaliningrad region. But this was done without fanfare.

Vice-President of the Russian Union of travel industry Yuri Barzykin explains that for the travel industry, the opening of special zones was important in terms of tax benefits for residents (they were exempted from paying taxes on property and land for the first five years). However, a set of incentives for investors was very weak.

A vivid example — history in the Kaliningrad region, where he organized the cluster in place of the national Park “Curonian spit”. Those who want to invest the money was a lot, but because of the status of the reserve required investors who would invest the funds are not in huge hotels and shopping complexes, and small hotels, creation of eco-trails and related infrastructure. In the end, the region was unable to lure entrepreneurs to braid (maybe it’s better for the environment, but not for tourism). Really effective, according to Barzykin, the only work of the tourist zone “Baikal Harbor” in Buryatia and “turquoise Katun” in the Altai region. “In both cases, the Federal center and the subjects are equally invested in development zones, — says the representative of the tourism industry. — Most often the local authorities “forget” to lay money on road construction, energy and utilities, citing the fact that all of this should be built at the expense of government programs. But what the owner will want in the box to open a hotel and wait until the tourists start to go there?”.

And last. Now law enforcement investigated five criminal cases related to embezzlement of funds allocated for the creation and development of SEZ. More than half a billion rubles had been stolen during the construction of infrastructure in the Lipetsk region, which produces household appliances. But this does not mean that the project will be closed. Still, the work of the SEZ is estimated from the point of view of the economy, not the amount of crime.

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