Tatarstan is offered ‘mega-agglomeration’ for competitiveness
“They don’t need oil. The quality of life is better, salaries are higher, the job is found faster than in other regions as soon as you go there,” head of the Russian Accounts Chamber Alexey convinced the audience of the advantages of building a Volga macroregion following Moscow’s model. Delivering a speech at the strategic session Problems and Prospects of Socio-Economic Development of Tatarstan Agglomerations, he offered to revisit the regional concept of agglomeration development in favour of the idea of combining the closest regions — Bashkiria, Samara, Ulyanovsk Oblasts and Udmurtia. “We aren’t discussing their claims for territory, but it is a win-win situation for everybody,” Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov agreed. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
Agglomerations in a new manner
The idea of transforming the concept of the Tatarstan agglomeration into a mega-agglomeration — including a few neighbouring regions in it — was unexpectedly voiced during debates at the strategic session Problems and Prospects of Socio-Economic Development of Tatarstan Agglomerations. Tatarstan Minister of Economy Midkhat Shaigakhmetov presented key areas of its development within the update of the Tatarstan Strategy through 2030. But experts from the pool of the Leontyev Centre commented on it during the meeting. According to the existing concept, Tatarstan has three economic agglomerations — Kazan, Kama and Almetyevsk. A territory with 77% of the population is included in it. They provide 86% of domestic regional product. As Midkhat Shaigakhmetov explained, the agglomeration-based territory development approach was used in 2015, and over this time, the pent-up growth pace is 109,2%, 4,5 trillion of investments in the working capital were provided, five priority socio-economic development areas were created, while over 10% of industrial production was created by residents of industrial sites.
It is noteworthy that the concept “agglomeration” isn’t fixed in Russian legislation and is considered to be a conditional concept in land development. This means that money isn’t allocated for agglomeration projects, which hampers the real economic integration.
Moreover, the absence of legal regulation impedes from developing new territories holistically and planning development through the lens of the whole agglomeration, but a specific municipality. But the Tatarstan economy minister paid attention to gaps in urban engineering regulation. According to him, this leads to worse municipal interaction in territory planning.
“Now a model municipalities agreed on is used in the republic, agreements on intermunicipal interaction were signed. But this isn’t effective,” Shagiakhmetov claimed.
For this reason, the Tatarstan president made a decision to gradually transfer “some power in urban engineering from the municipal to the republican level” with the simultaneous creation of the Institute of Space Development.
Midkhat Shagiakhmetov: “Now a model municipalities agreed on is used in the republic, agreements on intermunicipal interaction were signed. But this isn’t effective”
As Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutors explained, the institute will be founded soon, now its functions are determined. It is assumed to become the main centre in defining trends for territory development. Such a model works in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, which develops a agglomeration development strategy. Secondly, it is supposed to determine financial sources of agglomeration development. The economy minister thinks it is important to create a fund for agglomeration development like a fund for monotown development, which facilitated diversification. Thirdly, it is considered to permit attracting VEB and other corporations’ money to support the infrastructure of urban agglomerations.
Big and reach: third of global GDP in the hands of 151 cities
Before the debates, auditor of the Accounts Chamber Natalia Trunova voiced key sore points that change the urban landscape around the world. Firstly, regions are united into mega-agglomerations because systems of activity get more complex. Secondly, climate change forces to switch to green technologies. Thirdly, ageing of the population leads to the necessity to design the urban space not for the youth. As early as 2015, the WHO issued recommendations for urban planning for older age groups. The trend for bigger regions leads to a situation in which over a third of global GDP is generated by 151 cities (a fourth of the planet’s population lives in them), she indicated. If Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles are globalisation leaders, Asian countries, particularly China, gradually go up. Capital outflow is shifting mainly because of infrastructure development.
Head of the Accounts Chamber Alexey Kudrin made a remark noting that infrastructure development needed to increase 2-3 times in the country. In his opinion, the existing transport infrastructure will restrain Russia’s economic growth and won’t provide a 5% growth pace.
“Does Russia have to increase infrastructure development 2-3 times? Most importantly, it is possible, and this is necessary. A 5% growth pace is impossible without it. The existing infrastructure won’t allow it. We will simply end up in a deadlock,” he noted.
Only Moscow complies with world standards
After long debates on different aspects of regional agglomeration development, Alexey Kudrin brought up the necessity of making it bigger by uniting neighbouring regions. In his opinion, large agglomerations that can comply with the international level in terms of its impact on the international agenda will determine Russia’s economic development.
“We think a region uniting 8-9 million people can become such a region. It can already become an international centre. It is necessary to think that the Volga agglomeration, metropolis will be in Tatarstan’s interests,” he claimed. “There is a good location of cities around, you will get not only the market for yourself but also a centre to update workforce. Think of it,” Kudrin advised.
Alexey Kudrin: “The Volga agglomeration, metropolis will be in Tatarstan’s interests. There is a good location of cities around, you will get not only the market for yourself but also a centre to update workforce. Think of it”
At the same time, he doesn’t see Tatarstan as centre of this agglomeration: “Tatarstan itself isn’t enough yet, though it is important.”
There is no sense in explaining the advantages of big macroregions, it is obvious. Nevertheless, Alexey Kudrin explained himself.
“Moscow is the only centre in Russia that can comply with the world level,” he said. “Saint Petersburg with 5 million is a bit weak to become an energetic ground-breaking region,” he thinks. “In any case, Moscow and Petersburg’s share rises. It will grow to 40% by inertia by 2050,” he forecasts. “Perhaps [Moscow Mayor[ Sobyanin will get offended, but now he is pumping all power out. They don’t need oil. They have such synergy that the quality of life, the environment, everybody wants to go there. The quality of life is better, salaries are higher, the job is found faster than in other regions as soon as you go there,” he firmly claimed.
Such core macroregions can grow in other parts of the country too.
“Several great agglomerations need to be created in Yekaterinburg, the Volga area, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don in opposition to Moscow. Novosibirsk, Tomsk can partly participate. They can do it,” Kudrin thinks.
Rustam Minnikhanov: “As for the creation of the mega-gglomeration, we are in favour”
The idea of joining the mega-agglomeration didn’t raise doubts. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov said that he supported it because it was necessary to build economic ties with the regions.
“As for the creation of the mega-agglomeration, we are in favour. We aren’t discussing claims for territories... Every territory is sovereign, might it stay so. It is important to establish contacts with Bashkortostan, Samara, Ulyanovsk Oblasts and Udmurtia. We all will win,” he agreed.