Sergey Gaplikov said, "Protection of Russia's strategic interests and ensuring national security is the most important mission of the Arctic index zones."
The Head of the Republic of Komi made a presentation On the Vorkuta Index Zone Development at the plenary session of the VII International Forum The Arctic: Present and Future which took place in St. Petersburg. The meeting participants discussed readiness of the Arctic regions to launch and operate index zones, as well as coordination of the activities of federal and regional authorities in this process.
The Vorkuta Index Zone has a number of advantages to become one of the centres of the Arctic development. In particular, an advantageous geopolitical position due to remote location from water borders and Russian land borders facilitates creation of a protected transport infrastructure and a transport and logistics centre to increase the Northern Sea Route cargo traffic.
"Extraction and processing industries of the European North, the Urals and Siberia will be able to reach promising global markets in the West and in the East through the Kara Sea and the White Sea ports. To do this the extension of the Northern Railway branch Karskomir from Vorkuta to the port Arktur on the coast of the Kara Sea in Ust-Kara place and continuous development of the Northern latitudinal railway are required," Sergey Gaplikov noted.
The presence of a unique natural and resource potential of developed and new fields of the Pechora Coal Basin and the Timan-Pechora oil and gas province, metallic and nonmetallic minerals deposits, including vein and placer gold, silver, copper, barites, lead, zinc, quartz-kaolin raw materials and others in conditions of increasing demand in the South-Eastern markets makes their development promising.
Vorkuta has potential to become a scientific and technical centre for the development of Arctic telecommunications systems; accumulation, storage and transmission of databases; centre of human resources training and adaptation for a further study of the Arctic territories and development of their resource diversity, as well as study and development of the shelf resources of the Barents and the Kara Seas; a landfill to clean-up accumulated environmental damage in the Arctic.
"A number of strategically important tasks must be solved for the Vorkuta Index Zone further development. We must complete Syktyvkar–Naryan-Mar road, reconstruct the airport complex, develop new coal deposits taking into account all environmental issues, create decent living conditions through the improvement of the urban environment, renew an engineering infrastructure, and use the housing stock and social services rationally," the Head of the Republic of Komi commented.
In the Arctic the implementation of the index zones development projects requires significant financial investments. One of the financial sources may be a 5% return of the mineral extraction tax to the regional budget, which would exceed RUR 3 bln for the Republic of Komi. It is equal to Vorkuta City annual budget. In 2006-2016 mineral extraction tax revenues from the Republic of Komi to the federal budget exceeded RUR 511 bln.
A revision of the List of Common Minerals could become another source of additional funding for the Arctic development projects. Thus, for 10 years (2006-2016) 92 licenses for exploration and development of minerals were issued in the Republic of Komi. The total amount of funds received by the Russian Federation budget from their sales exceeded RUR 11 bln.
The proposals of the Head of the Republic of Komi and the regional Government to develop the Vorkuta Index Zone transport infrastructure as a part of the Arctic Zone of Russia were approved by the Presidium of the State Commission for Arctic Development held in September this year. Corresponding orders have been given by federal executive bodies.
"The development of the Russian Arctic Zone based on innovative economic modernization and sustainable economic growth will ensure national security in the water and land areas of the Russian Arctic and will strengthen the Arctic significance in the Russian Federation economy," Sergey Gaplikov said.
*** In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation from May 2, 2014 the territory of Vorkuta municipality is a part of land territories of the Russian Federation Arctic Zone.
In 2017 the Government of the Russian Federation adopted a new version of the Social and Economic Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation state program. Federal law draft On Index Zones Development in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation is being developed. It is assumed that the main mechanism for the Arctic region development will be based on Index Zones which envisage the development of the territory as a holistic project according to the coordination of all branch activities in planning, financing and implementation. Index Zones Pilot projects are planned for 2018-2020 and their functioning is expected in 2021-2025.