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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Siberian Road Gets $290M Loan


Vedomosti

Transportation Minister Sergei Frank

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will lend Russia $290 million to complete the only trans-Siberian road linking the Far East to Europe, First Deputy Transport Minister Igor Slyunyayev said Wednesday.

The loan will be used to construct a 400-kilometer section of the 10,000-kilometer route between Vladivostok and Brest, Belarus, Slyunyayev said at Wednesday's Transportation Ministry board meeting.

The EBRD's board of directors is expected to give final approval of the loan in June, Richard Wallis, a spokesman for the bank, said Wednesday.

The ministry said it hopes to complete the route in the first quarter of 2004. The road will connect the pan-European network uniting Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk and Moscow to the far eastern port of Vladivostok and neighboring China and Japan.

About 120 kilometers of the remaining section, which runs from Chita in eastern Siberia to Khabarovsk in the Far East, was finished last year thanks to a $229 million EBRD loan. Part of that loan also financed projects on St. Petersburg's ring road, Slyunyayev was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Transportation Minister Sergei Frank told the board Wednesday that total transport industry investments in 2003 would be 370 billion rubles ($11.7 billion), of which 165 billion rubles, or 45 percent, will come from outside sources.

Last year the ministry spent $9.5 billion on the nation's transportation system, with more then a third of that funding coming from the private sector.

Russia built 500 kilometers of new federal roads and more than 2,000 kilometers of regional roads last year, Frank said. However, he noted that the pace of road network development was not in sync with the country's economic growth.

Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told the Transportation Ministry that it would be important to work closely with other ministries during the development of a free-trade zone between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The presidents of the four countries on Feb. 23 agreed to create the zone to increase economic cooperation.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on Wednesday appointed Khristenko to head the Russian talks in the zone's creation, the government's information department reported.

"It is obvious that for any free trade zone the key issue is [transportation] infrastructure," Khristenko said.

The ministry must learn to coordinate with the new railways sector, which will soon begin carrying out sweeping reforms, Khristenko said.

The Railways Ministry will sell off its commercial assets to introduce competition in the railroad industry.

President Vladimir Putin this week signed the last law from the package of bills needed to reform the sector.

"Very soon there will be a new player, competitor, partner, investor -- the Russian Railways Co. -- and that will give the transport industry a new quality," Khristenko said.