Agenda: the results of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting, the expansion of subsidies for shipping agricultural goods by rail, the introduction of a single digital forest registry.
Excerpts from the transcript:
Mikhail Mishustin: Good morning, colleagues,
Last week, I went to Armenia for a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council.
This year, Russia is chairing the union's bodies, and in January the President, addressing the Big Five leaders, proposed drafting new strategic planning documents which should define the main directions for integration interaction. At the initiative of the Russian side, the key tasks and areas of cooperation for the medium and long term were the main topic of discussion at the Intergovernmental Council. Among them is the formation of a common space to distribute major products and resources. We are talking mainly about food and energy security.
Of course, we discussed in detail the deepening of our industrial cooperation. In general, a lot is being done in this area in the EAEU. Mr Manturov and I recently visited the Innoprom exhibition where almost all members of the union presented their technology projects. And of course, increasing this cooperation will contribute to the integration of our union into global production chains with high value-added goods, which is crucial.
Already in the first half of the year, industrial production in the EAEU five countries has increased by almost 3 percent. Joint steps will help consolidate these trends. In September, we plan to take part in Innoprom in Astana.
We paid special attention to cooperation in the scientific and technical, digital, transport, trade, economic and financial spheres.
We agree with our partners that today, in the difficult international situation, it is extremely important to bring cooperation within the EAEU to an even higher level, and to implement promising joint projects in all areas for the benefit of our people. We will continue to do everything necessary to create comfortable living conditions in our countries and to promote the four basic freedoms of the union state, which are the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour.
Colleagues, please keep track of how the agreements reached in your areas, including sectoral ones, are being implemented.
Another topic concerns the expansion of support measures for our agriculture sectors. The Government is adjusting existing regulations in order to simplify the shipping of a number of agricultural goods by rail. The President emphasised that the issues of the need to reimburse tariffs (freight rates) and provide transport to the agro-industrial complex must always be in our focus. Currently, subsidies are provided for shipping grain, vegetables, fish and some other goods, which helps maintain national food security and stability in the domestic market. Over 6 billion roubles have been allocated for these purposes this year. The new executive order makes it possible to subsidise the transport of rye for flour mills in the Central and Northwestern federal districts among other destinations. This policy will help maintain stable prices for bread, flour and other food staples.
Subsidised shipping will also be available for mineral fertilisers to the Far Eastern regions for all agrarians, not just seed and oilseed producers, as was the case before. This will help reduce costs for farms and increase profitability, and most importantly, to begin the preparations for spring field work in advance.
We expect that the adopted measures will enjoy high demand on the part of agricultural producers and transport companies. Most importantly, our people will have the food they need.
Let’s turn to the development of the timber industry. It is important not only to create jobs and build up production rates but also to treat the environment with great care. Russia has unique natural riches and we must draft a very careful, thought-out and well-balanced policy. It should reflect control over the use of our riches when we are not just cutting down forests but also planting new ones, restoring the environmental balance. The President also spoke about the need to use our resources rationally.
Many steps were taken in the past few years to improve oversight in this area. Legislative amendments and decisions were adopted to encourage deep processing of wood in Russia. Restrictions on coniferous and finewood roundtimber exports have been in force for a year and a half. Current measures to support responsible companies allow them to reduce some of their costs. Digital technology is involved in resolving many problems. We are still using the industry’s LesEGAIS information system.
The next step is forming a uniform forest registry to keep information on all issues, including the entire chain of the timber business. The registry is supposed to start full scale operation on 1 January 2025.
The Government has drafted a resolution setting out the procedure for its introduction and the information it is supposed to have. And, of course, as a new resource, it will interact with other information systems. This is a big job but it is necessary to upgrade oversight in this area. Ms Abramchenko, could you please tell us what has been done to improve the transparency of the timber industry?
Viktoria Abramchenko: Mr Mishustin, colleagues, in line with the President’s instruction, the Government is continuing to reform the timber sector. In part, we are overseeing the digital transformation of the industry and, as you have already said, the transition to a registry-based model of providing services in the timber industry. You have signed a directive on the rules of maintaining a uniform forest registry. It will be based on the use of the timber industry federal information system that we are creating on the GosTech platform.
This will be the first state forest registry in this country. Earlier, each region had the right to conduct its local registry according to its local rules and primarily on paper. It is impossible to create a modern effective forest management model on such a scattered database with different descriptions and lack of information on all forestry facilities.
Moreover, until recently, there was no control over the movement of wood from
logging to the production of finished goods and their export abroad. There was no tracking system. Therefore, one of the most important goals of the reform is to enhance the industry’s transparency by introducing digital technology.
The digital transformation of the forestry sector comprises two stages.
The first stage had to do with upgrading LesEGAIS – the industry’s integrated information system. With its new functionality added on 1 January, the system can create and record digital documents for each batch of timber – a digital identifier that confirms the legality of the product’s origin. This identification document will be mandatory for every transaction involving lumber, for transportation or export of timber. To date, LesEGAIS has over 289,000 registered users; the system has generated 12 million accompanying documents for more than 543 million cubic metres of timber. It effectively prevents the illegal export of timber, including coniferous roundwood and valuable hardwood.
Users who fail to provide confirmation of the timber being harvested legally cannot obtain the digital identification document and, accordingly, cannot export the goods.
Thanks to the Government’s measures to root out criminal activity and develop the forestry sector, illegal logging in Russia has decreased by 60 percent in the last three years.
At the second stage of the industry’s digital transformation, by 2025, we plan to complete the federal state information system’s development – create a unified electronic forest registry. It is going to be the digital twin of the country’s forests and forested areas. At the federal level, it will be operated by the Federal Agency for Forestry (Rosleskhoz) and will use the unified electronic cartographic database developed by the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr). This way, all data on Russian forests will be integrated in one system, facilitating oversight of the use and restoration of forests. The system will also provide services to forest users digitally, without personal visits to government agencies. Over 2 million state services related to forest use will be provided annually via this unified information system. The average time it takes to provide a service will be reduced to a few days – or minutes in the case of record requests.
The register will systematise information about forests and the use of forest resources, forest protection and regrowth, storage and processing sites, as well as all transactions with timber. Moreover, the system will combine information about the quantity and quality of forests. This will help significantly increase the efficiency of logging and preserve valuable timber plantations.
We also plan to include GLONASS tracking data from logging trucks and logging equipment, to track their location and prevent illegal logging.
Mr Mishustin, we are planning a phased introduction of the unified state forest registry starting with three pilot regions – the Moscow, Arkhangelsk and Ulyanovsk regions – on 1 September. By the end of this year, we will add 60 more Russian regions to the system. As you said, the unified state forest registry will be fully operational throughout the Russian Federation from 1 January 2025.
Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you. It is important to make the system convenient for businesses. This is the hard part. It is also important to make sure that the technology used for the unified state cadastre of real estate is compatible with the forest registry. I hope that this will be the case, that it will be convenient and user friendly, and of course, that it will have a tangible effect and promote the more efficient use of our forests.