|№ 117 (3267)||22.07.2006|
Notes of a press-secretary
The last President of Tatarstan (15)
Another Tatar myth is a myth about its favorable investment climate; they say that there are many investors who want to put up their money here. According to the statistic data we really are in the top five of Russian regions with highest investments amount. The only bad year was 1999, as Tatarstan suddenly was on the 42nd place among the Russian republics, districts and regions by the amount of investments. Yet I have every reason to believe that the investment rating of Tatarstan has the same origin as its agricultural records. Tatarstan has learned to give out desired numbers to be real, playing with them and blowing up soap bubbles of achievements.
One of such "bubbles" is the Yelabuga automobile plant, which was a forward of the Tatar investments politic. They said there would be many investors and the best of them were chosen.
On the 7th of December 1995 a tripartite agreement between the governments of Russia, Tatarstan and General Motors Company was signed. According to this treaty the so called YelAZ-DM Corporation was established. It was planned that facilities for production of 50000 automobiles a month would be produced.
On the 19th of December 1996 mass media of Russia and many Western TV-companies, newspapers and information agencies reported that Chevrolet Blazer automobiles stared to be assembled in Yelabuga.
Yet the project had no success. The automobile designed in the seventies of the last century was too expensive and out-of-date. Rustam Minnikhanov did not like Chevrolet Blazer at once. He was the finance minister of Tatarstan then, yet he was much more famous as the many-time car race champion of Russia. So no wonder that he did not keep from test-drive, coming to YelAZ some days before Viktor Chernomyrdin`s visit. The heads of regional administrations of Yelabuga and Mamadysh, Ildar Ishkov and Eksam Gubaidullin took passengers` places and Minnikhanov drove Chevrolet Blazer out of the plant. He had been driven it during half an hour, stepped out of the car and threw his keys to Ravil Zaripov, the general director of YelAZ. Gubaidullin, and Ishkov especially (for the plant was in the district, he controlled then) looked gloomy. I do not know what Minnikhanov said them; and Zaripov heard the following:
- Your car is bullshit, no one will buy it.
Nobody dared to translate these words to General Motors representatives, who were standing near. Yet they seemingly knew themselves that Chevrolet Blazer is not ideal. Its Brazilian plant had already planned to produce new models, reducing production of Chevrolet Blazer, for there were too many rejects and actions at law. Automobiles were shipped to Yelabuga, which were standing too long at San Jose dos Campos.
It became evident later that Americans did not put in their money into a full production in Tatarstan. "Invested" were just resources from republican budget, about 100 millions Rubles per year, not including tax bonanza.
It is well known that the pre-election coalition Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya (Fatherland-All Russia) was established. Another significant event happened at the same day: Mintimer Shaymiyev met the General Motors vice-president David Herman. I wrote down the following about this meeting in my diary: "My chef is in a bed mood. We did not even played chess during the flight to Kazan. Though I supposed, he would be in high spirits, because of the integration of "Otechestvo" and "Vsya Rossiya" parties. Herman spoilt everything. It is sure as eggs is eggs.
It seems to be a mistake of me that I persuaded the President to organize a short press-conference in the airport. Sure the Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya coalition needs to be advertised in Tatarstan, no one asked any other questions in the conference hall, yet my chef told the journalists about this meeting himself. For he started to talk about it, he had to tell about the problems of the YelAZ-General Motors factory. The main problem is that the Republic did not have credit for buying producing facilities for Chevrolet Blazer. The President acknowledged that the Republic does not meet the conditions of a treaty. He said that we needed over 100 millions Dollar of credit resources, and that we were looking for better terms. Yet we have not found them yet. At the end of his speech about his meeting with Herman the President said: "If Tatarstan will not find a profitable investor, we will come to nothing more than just to assembly automobiles. About thousand of Chevrolet Blazer is not realized now. We had complete mutual understanding with Mister Herman, yet the credits are too expensive for us, even more the mechanism of working out old ones does not exist yet.
I read my notes again and ask myself: What is the investment appeal of Tatarstan then, if we started the project of Yelabuga for our own money?
The Tragedy of Tatarstan is in the fact that Mintimer Shaymiyev has no concept of Republic`s development. "Increased welfare of people", "Republic of European living standards", "region of European standards", and his usual "we can" – these are not concepts, but ideology slogans. It is something very ephemeral and unattainable like a mirage, like communism, with its statement "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".
The place and the role of the Republic are defined by the developing of globalization processes. This place is not very pleasant for Mintimer Shaymiyev, for Tatarstan became a provincial republic with backward economy during the last fifteen years because of its authority. We are behind all processes of renewing producing culture; we can not afford realizing only high-tech, which means profitable, means of labor. Some persons of natural gifts, like in Idea technopark, or some enterprises like POZIS in Zelenodolsk, Vostok in Chistopol, or Kazan helicopter plant developed not because of, but regardless of economical policy of the authority. These just stress the feebleness of it.
The structure of export of Tatarstan’s production shows a role of the Republic in the world system very good. What do we export to Germany, France, and Great Britain? We export mineral oil, oil products, polymers, ethylene, artificial rubber - raw materials or the products of the primary treatment of them. The same was ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. The export volumes just became higher. The export of hi-tech production, like helicopters, ships, different equipment, automobiles, and tires (everything was produced before "Shaymiyev’s age" is reduced or stopped (of cinema and photo film, for instance, or of furniture and musical instruments).
Why did it happen? For the authority did not catch the right moment to rebuild an industrial society into a postindustrial. The moment to choose a new way, and go on without any stop. Nothing hindered us to fill political freedom with real economical sovereignty. It was possible till 2000. As Vladimir Putin became the head of Russia, he quietly returned everything back with many compliments for Mintimer Shaymiyev. Russian "not sovereign" regions did not stay back in their development, they even are in front of Tatarstan. We were talking too much about our freedom.
It should be mentioned that after returning into the united legal, political, and economical field of Russia the development speeded up. It concerns Kazan at first, especially in the forming of living standards. There are much more shopping malls built in last two or three years here, than during all years of freedom. The city takes the Western life style as an example. Yet the problem is that just 12% of Kazaners can afford it. For the rest 88% European standards are profusion.
The authority has to pay attention on it. For the poverty alone is not so scary, but only under the stipulation that a poor man can overcome it in several years. It is terrible that the poverty is insuperable. A man who works well in budget sphere or even in producing has no perspectives to become reach or at least wealthy.
The end. Read the beginning № 98, 101 - 103, 105 - 111, 113 - 115.