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Tariffs for Housing and Communal Services: Eternal Plunder

Tariffs for Housing and Communal Services: Eternal Plunder
02.10.2013

The head of the working group on development of housing and communal services of Expert Board at the government Andrey Chibis at press conference in news agency RIA Novosti declared that the government wasn't going to fix on introduction of social norms for electricity and water. Since 2014 a number of regions will be forced to pass on social norms for heating as an experiment. Since January, 1, 2015 already all country will start saving precious heat.

On norms of SanPiN a man can comfortably live at temperature +18°C; apparently, this minimum will be taken as a basis. It’s not quite clear how citizens will receive excess heat, it seems not possible now to establish calculators on batteries in apartment houses with centralized heating system. Apparently, those who don’t wish to live following socials norms will have to switch on electric heaters. Thus they, certainly, will go beyond norm of consumption of electricity.

There are two main problems, Chibis explained. The first one is attraction of investments into the branch. Wear of municipal infrastructure makes 70%, it is necessary to repair it, while there’s no money for it. By his calculations only branch of water supply and disposal demands attraction of 500 billion rubles of investments annually. Therefore the only way out is to reduce consumption.

"It is necessary to act using two ways. The first way is to stimulate energy efficiency to the maximum and to do it in the same way as it’s done in all countries, including countries of the Eastern Europe where energy efficiency was stimulated simply by increase of tariffs for services. It’s necessary to do it gently. What does it mean? To fix certain social norm of consumption and to make so that the price for the resource – electricity, water or heating in future - grows in limited rates within the limits of this social norm. It is necessary to protect people who use rationally," — Chibis explained.

The chairman of the board of non-profit partnership "Guaranteed Suppliers and Power Supply Companies" Natalia Nevmerzhitskaya presented statistics of those regions where experiment on introduction of standards on electric power was carried out. It appeared that 40% of families succeeded to keep within social norm and "overpayment" for excess consumption averaged from 20 to 100 rub a month for household. Nevmerzhitskaya recognized that "payment for overexpenditure" would have to grow significantly, otherwise there’s no sense to introduce social norm.

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From editorial board: Nothing new. They talked about 70% of wear out of municipal infrastructure 20 years ago, prices allegedly were increased "for repair" and some time later they again started talking about 70 percent of wear out and again increased prices. At that they talk about 70 percent of wear out even where municipal networks were built just few years ago, while they keep silent about replacement in places where they were built from the middle of the last century. They simply from time to time raise prices thus saying that we still owe them - "the state subsidizes housing and communal services".

Thus in Ukraine where the climate is similar and heating systems are simply identical, prices for housing and communal services are many times lower. In Sevastopol I pay for heating supply 47 hryvnias a month, that is about 200 rubles. In Moscow I pay many times more.

Thus in Sevastopol nobody moans that I owe anything to someone, on the contrary, they are grateful very much that I pay regularly. Likely they will also raise prices – by 10-15 percent... Why not more? Because now people pay extremely irregularly, they have no money. It is possible to raise prices twice and what of it? Nothing good will happen, people will pay twice worse.

Yes, system of housing and communal services in Ukraine suffers from regular insufficient funding. After all system of housing and communal services in Russia where income is many times higher, according to them, also suffers from it. What's the matter? The matter is that tariffs for housing and communal services depend not from cost of services, but from ability of the population to pay. As well as from ability of citizens to protect their interests.

Therefore tariffs in Ukraine are objectively low and people working in the system of housing and communal services are not so rich. Tariffs in Russia are overestimated and personnel of housing and communal services go by BMW and even "Bentley". Though it’s different across Russia - tariffs in Moscow where different revolutions take place from time to time are lower strangely enough. While in “quiet” regions prices sometimes are twice higher, than in the capital. The most known fact - the lowest tariffs are in Moscow and the highest in the country are in the Moscow region. Why? Because in Moscow Sobyanin hardly persuaded people in 51% on recent elections, while in the Moscow region not known Vorobyov drew himself 85 percent (they say that main "opponent" of the governor received the 5-roomed apartment in the center of Moscow), all keep silent, all are happy. Well, then pay!

In Ukraine in Kiev they didn’t have mayors for about three years, utility payments and other tariffs are low and everything works somehow. While in Moscow every mayor has his customs and tariffs are corresponding.

I will repeat conclusions which follow: tariffs depend on two things - abilities of the population to pay and abilities of citizens to resist to municipal robbery.

Аnatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief of FORUM.msk

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