Press Review of the Caucasus (December 14-20)

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Press Review of the Caucasus (December 14-20)

The agency 'Abkhazia-Inform’ announces that on December 16th the Abkhazian- Russian forum "Strategy of the Development of Abkhazia in the Context of Eurasian Integration" took place in Sukhumi, where the strategy of the socio-economic development of the republic until 2025, developed by the Center for Strategic Studies of Abkhazia, was presented. As the director of the Center, project manager Oleg Damenia noted, the strategy provides a detailed description of how to achieve a solution to the problem of overcoming the crisis and ensuring sustainable development of the economy. It presents an analysis of internal and external threats, advantages and limitations, resources and other conditions determined by strategic goals and sub-objectives, the social model and development priorities, main tasks and mechanisms for their implementation. The strategy involves the development on its basis and the implementation of a state program of development, institutional change in the country to speed up the process of its development, as well as performing other targeted programs and projects. Speaking at the forum, the President of Abkhazia, Raul Khajimba, said that a policy of long-term socio-economic development cannot be implemented without good-quality strategic planning. It is impossible to deal constantly with ‘’patching holes", without seeing a more general perspective, without formulating objectives or having worked out the ways to achieve them. The President hopes that policymakers will soon present plans of action for the various sectors of the economy, appropriate roadmaps needed for the practical implementation of the developed proposals.

The head of the Russian delegation, the presidential advisor on regional economic integration, Sergei Glazyev, generally welcomed the strategy presented and noted that the main issue facing the leadership of Abkhazia is the realization of this document. According to him, the most difficult thing in this case is to find the necessary funding. The load on the state budget may be too large. He believes that an optimization of the business and investment climate and the possible establishment of a Development Bank would help mobilize resources for the implementation of the Strategy. In addition, Glazyev noted the importance of participation in the Eurasian integration processes as one of the aspects of the development of Abkhazia. ‘’Despite all the political complexities, Abkhazia will be involved in the Eurasian integration, we want to see Abkhazia in the Eurasian Economic Union. While our partners are not yet ready for political recognition, you could begin to study our common Eurasian regulatory framework that would substantially facilitate possible integration processes," the presidential adviser said. I agree with him and the Ambassador of Russia to Abkhazia, Semyon Grigoryev, who also stressed the importance of considering the Strategy in the context of the Eurasian integration. "This is the main trend of development of Russia, the former Soviet Union region at the present time. What is important, I would say of crucial importance, is the way that Abkhazia and its economy will be inscribed in the Eurasian context," the ambassador said.

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB), closely cooperating with Azerbaijan for more than 15 years, approved the main directions of operations in the country for the next three years, the newspaper ‘Azerbaijan News’ reports. The new business plan for the period until 2019 is made with the expectation to help Azerbaijan diversify its economy and promote sustainable growth in the non-oil sector. "The document covers infrastructure projects in transport, energy, water, measures to improve urban infrastructure, meaning those areas identified by the government as priority," the Asian Bank reported. The bank noted the compliance plan for cooperation in the Republic, adopted in the concept of ‘Azerbaijan 2020: a look into the future.’ Nevertheless, some of the financing of future projects requires coordination, as proposed by the Azerbaijani government, the lending program is estimated at $1.1 billion, exceeding the bank's funds available for operations in the country during this period by some 760 million dollars. The  options for co-financing to make up for the difference will be submitted for consideration. In particular, the ADB considers it possible to provide funding in the amount of $200 million to improve rail links between Baku and Sumgait in the future. The total cost of the project is $350 million, of which $50 million will be provided by the Government of Azerbaijan, 100 million will be sourced through co-financing.

The document also suggests a program of technical assistance for 2016-2017, related to the preparation of the investment program in the sphere of rail transport, the multi-funding of water supplies and sewage services, the promotion of financial integration, support for improved governance, preparation of the development project of the education sector. The scope of this program is $3.8 million. There are  energy projects in the business plan of the bank worth 790 million dollars. These funds are provided for the development of electricity distribution and renewable energy. According to the publication, since 1999 the ADB has provided Azerbaijan with loans and technical assistance amounting to $1.9756 billion dollars.

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Should the rent for land be raised or not? And if so, by how much? For a long time, the newspaper ‘North Ossetia’ writes, the authorities at different levels have been trying to reach a compromise on this issue. A single figure is difficult to develop, as revenues in the budget should be increased, but nobody wants farmers to suffocate. The republic's leadership held a meeting with the heads of municipalities in the government of North Ossetia, the main theme of which was growth rates of lease payments for state and unmeasured land. A draft resolution has been registered, that the payment for arable land will double for hayfields, pastures and perennial plantations, while land for real estate and water bodies will rise 50%. These figures are considered economically justified by the representatives of the government. They are comparable with the prices that are set for the country. According to officials, rising rents will increase the budget revenues, taking into account that in the country there are more than 30 thousand hectares of land. Now the fees are meager. In 2014, they amounted to 12 million rubles, in 2015 it is planned for them to reach 15 million. The officials consider these sums to be very small. "With the increase in the cost of rents, fees in 2016 should reach 30 million rubles," the Minister of State Property and Land Relations, Ruslan Tedeev, said. Moreover, in his opinion, the rise in prices for land should not affect the cost of manufactured products.

As the newspaper writes, in the course of the discussion special emphasis was placed by the officials on the efficiency of land use. According to the representatives of local authorities, for the farmers who actually work it will be a heavy burden. As a result, several amendments have been introduced to the draft resolution. It is planned to cancel the preferential rates for those who received the land as a result of the assignment. Furthermore, reduced rates may be introduced for the first time for those who agree to cultivate fallow and destroyed land. It was also decided  to increase the rent or even withdraw the land for inefficient use of land. All raised proposals will be included in the new draft resolution of the government, then it will be made available to the public. The discussion will be attended by the representatives of all concerned parties.

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Georgia has implemented a large-scale project for the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C, covering all segments of the population. The project began in April this year in cooperation with the American public by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Science. At the same time, the registration started of people wishing to participate in the state program of free treatment of the disease in order to study the spread of hepatitis C and B in the country and establish the exact number of infected people. Help has been provided already to the first patients. The country's leadership has announced that the project will affect all the carriers of the disease, treatment will be available to all citizens, including prisoners. The Internet portal ‘Georgia-Online’ reports that a few days ago Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced at a briefing with the head of the Georgian Ministry of Health, David Sergeyenko, the beginning of the second stage of the program of elimination of hepatitis C. According to him, due to the fact that the first stage, during which about 5000 people were treated, was very successful, it has earned high marks at international conferences, together with our American partners it has been decided to extend the project without waiting for the signing of a new agreement with the US early next year. The prime minister said that soon Georgia will receive another drug of the latest generation, Harvoni, the use of which will provide more effective treatment for hepatitis C. Treatment of a patient with this drug costs 80-100 thousand dollars, but, thanks to the company Gilead, citizens will be treated for free. The second phase of the program will include not 5000, but already 6300 people. All in all,20 thousand patients are expected to be treated every year until the last patient has received the necessary assistance.

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The Ministry of Transport of Kabardino-Balkaria is implementing in the country a conceptually new solution in the field of security – the hardware-software complex (APC) Secure Republic. According to the newspaper ‘Kabardino-Balkarian Pravda’, the complex currently consists of 356 video cameras installed at all exits from Nalchik, spaces, objects of culture, at schools, in public places of the city, 30 complexes of photographic-video fixation of traffic violations, four points of  the emergency communication ‘citizen-police’ data center, a situational hall with a video wall with five workstations, where police officers are working around the clock. All the material is provided to a processing center with modern servers with disk data storage. The depth of the archive is from 30 to 60 days.

The head of the complex, Sultanbek Kuchmazokov, said the implementation of an investment project worth 850 million rubles began in November of this year in Nalchik. The investors were the PJSC ‘Rostelecom’. During the operation the complex Secure Republic was developed, experience was accumulated, mistakes were corrected, and today we solve the problem of its expansion throughout the country. In the first half of 2016 as part of the AIC the number of cameras will increase to 613, the photo video fixation complexes of traffic violations will rise to 104 points, the ‘Citizen-Police’ to 17. There will be modernized hardware, software updates, and the storage capacity data will increase for 250%. Vision systems will have video analysis to respond to items left behind, crowding, inappropriate behavior of citizens crossing the line of control, violation of the perimeter, broken glass, shooting, fires, it will recognize faces. It is planned to equip all the entrances of apartment houses with video surveillance, as well as the ability to connect the camcorder to the APC party organizations, the number of which is over 3500 in Nalchick. The structure of the agribusiness segment of GLONASS will be introduced for comprehensive monitoring of public transport.

Each municipality of the Republic will create a mini-APK. In conjunction with video systems, complexes of PVF, ‘Citizen-Police’, there will be fully-fledged analytical hardware and software systems. Channels will still work offline in an emergency situation or in case of interruption of communication. In normal mode all information will go to the ‘Secure Republic’. All municipalities will implement software solutions that will allow the system to build up full level connectivity systems-112 (the Russian analogue of 911), with the possibility of monitoring a wide variety of areas – the environment, natural hazards (storms, landslides, flooding, avalanches) critical facilities, to carry out inter-agency cooperation, the integrated system to manage emergency population warning, system utilities, etc. A comprehensive system of human safety will allow comprehensive statistics on accidents to be compiled, will serve as an effective tool to control security. It will be possible, to a certain extent, to predict social events and local scenes, the article reads.

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