25 January 2004, 15:15

Restoring Chechnya today, tomorrow

What is Chechnya's economy like presently? How is the federal target program for reconstruction of republic being carried out? Khusein Israilov, Chechnya's first deputy minister of economic development and trade, answers these questions that are vital for residents of Chechnya.

Khusein Lechievich Israilov was born in Urus-Martan, Chechnya, Russia, in 1960. He graduated from the Volgograd Construction Engineering Institute where his field of concentration was economics and organization of construction. Before his latest appointment, he worked as deputy minister of housing and utilities of Chechnya, deputy chief and chief of Chechengrazhdanstroi ("Chechen Civil Construction"), and first deputy minister of construction, architecture and housing and utilities of Chechnya. Khusein Israilov holds a degree of candidate of sciences in economics.

Caucasian Knot: What is the key objective of your ministry?

Khusein Israilov: The Economic Development and Trade Ministry of Chechnya shapes the federal target program for reconstruction of Chechnya's socioeconomic sphere.

CK.: What can you say about the present-day economic situation in the republic?

Kh.I.: Sure, our economy is in a deplorable state because military action has caused it colossal damage. It's good, at least, it is planned to reconstruct everything that has been destroyed, and the reconstruction process will be funded from the federal center. I can say 1.4 billion rubles was utilized within the scope of the federal target program during nine months of the year, which makes about 80% of the funds allocated. More than 200 facilities are currently under reconstruction. Some social sphere facilities will be put into operation in a few days. These include secondary school N2 in Argun, secondary school N2 in Kurchaloi, city polyclinic N6 in Grozny, a tuberculosis hospital in Gudermes, and children's polyclinic N3 in Grozny.

Speaking about negative aspects, this is primarily lack of funding, which naturally affects the process and scale of reconstruction work. We have big trouble in putting facilities into operation considering a range of measures, in providing infrastructure according to a permanent schedule. We have to find ways out in such conditions.

CK.: Can we say how many industrial facilities are working in the republic presently?

Kh.I.: It is difficult to give an unambiguous answer. Funding for restoration of the construction industry is very limited. One can talk about the operation of the Grozny Brick Plant. The sand-pit authority yields produce. This year, builders seek to include a plan for reconstruction of the Cement Plant which is well-known far beyond Chechnya's boundaries for its high-quality product. If it comes to industrial facilities, I would like to say that funds allocated to restore the industry this year (140 million rubles) are quite limited figures, after all. A lot of money goes to buy construction materials, because local construction organizations that used to manufacture some or other products are out of operation.

CK.: Are there any scenarios to reconstruct facilities and organizations in addition to the federal target program? For example, a school recently went into operation in Grozny that was built on money provided by the president of Kalmykia.

Kh.I.: There is a special program approved by the Russian president that stipulates that the federal districts provide assistance to Chechnya's social sphere. Thus, the South and Urals federal districts funded reconstruction of educational institutions. However, this is rather symbolic assistance, although we appreciate it very much, sure.

CK.: So we can chiefly count on the federal target program alone. Is there any criticism or requests with regard to it, apart from meager funding?

Kh.I.: Overall, the approach to drawing up the target program for Chechnya should be changed drastically. Thus, for instance, if a water supply facility is under construction, all networks and infrastructure should be provided for. Reconstruction of facilities should be all-inclusive. After all, infrastructure in Grozny, for example, is in a deplorable condition. The situation is very difficult. People work in extremely difficult conditions, there is a lot of manual work.

However, there are some prospects for positive change of the situation. Moscow is paying more and more attention to our opinions, and our analysis of the situation and proposals are taken into account. After all, we know better here, locally, what should be reconstructed in the first place and what is not worth spending at all, from the standpoint of latest technologies.

CK.: How many construction organizations are there in Chechnya?

Kh.I.: The Chechen Construction Authority, Chechengrazhdanstroi, Agropromstroi ("Agricultural Construction"), and Agropromdorstroi ("Agricultural Road-Building") - these four organizations actually started reconstruction of the republic. There is also Chechengazifikatsiya ("Chechen Gasification"). Overall, 10 general contractors passed the tender commission, including our state-run construction organizations Chechengrazhdanstroi and Chechen Construction Authority. And one should give our builders their due - they work adequately.

CK.: Any information about builders from the outside involved in the reconstruction process is perceived quite inimically against the backdrop of the drastic unemployment in Chechnya. How much to the detriment of local workers is the involvement of professionals from beyond Chechnya?

Kh.I.: Workers from the outside are basically involved as engineers and technicians; as for the intermediate level and other workers, they are practically all local residents.

CK.: What is your forecast for reconstruction rates next year?

Kh.I.: Sure, it is optimistic. Moreover, the year 2005 will become crucial as to the scale and rates of reconstruction.

In conclusion, I would like to indicate one significant point: change of leadership in late April this year brought a noticeable expansion of the function and opportunities of our ministry. In particular, the Russian government's order of August 26, 2003, unambiguously defined the Economic Development and Trade Ministry as the key customer in carrying out the federal target program for Chechnya. Meanwhile, our new minister, Abdula Abubakarovich Magomadov, was directly concerned with those changes.

CK.: We wish you great success. Thank you for the interview.

Author: Ruslan Yusupov; Source: Caucasian Knot

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