German Gref: Foundations for better living standards in Kaliningrad Region have already been laid

The federal and regional authorities are already laying the foundations for providing a better standard of living in the Kaliningrad Region. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced yesterday by Russian Minister for Economic Development German Gref, who is currently visiting the region.

Mr Gref said that since his previous visit 18 months ago 'there are clear signs of improvement in social and business terms and several successful local and national projects are currently underway, which leaves one feeling optimistic about the future.' By 2005 residents of the Kaliningrad Region will already begin to feel the results of the authorities' efforts when several facilities, currently under construction, are opened.

Mr Gref said that the Hrabrovo airport was among the priorities for this year's budget, which urgently needs a new airstrip and also needs to be enlarged. He also mentioned the deep-sea port and transport terminal in Baltiisk, saying that 'it could turn the region into one of Russia's key transportation routes on the Baltic Sea. However, he said that construction of the port must go ahead at a faster pace. He also spoke of the new heat and power plant which could solve many of the region's problems with electricity and heating although here he also called for faster construction.

Mr Gref agreed with Regional Governor Vladimir Yegorov that a list of facilities to be included in the 2004 federal budget would be drawn up by the end of the week. The total budget for the region is USD 1.2 billion, over twice as much as the current year's budget.

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