Andrei Lubenski: In Ukraine, electric energy rises in price in October. The left is preparing for a protest action, while the government is preparing for winter

Ukrainian socialists from the city of Cherkassy have threatened to pitch a tent camp before the regional administration, as they did during the scandal with records of conversations in president Kuchma’s office. This decision was taken at the meeting of protest against regional authorities’ decision to raise prices of hot water produced by the local heat and power plant. The socialists demanded the creation of a commission for studying pricing mechanisms in the housing sphere. Governor Vladimir Lukyanets was proposed to give a report on the situation to the deputies of the regional soviet. The proposition was accepted, so the report is expected to be held at the next session. Similar meetings are being carried out in other cities. Though for all that, the tent camp will very probably appear in the city of Cherkassy. The rise in the price of hot water seems to be only the first step in series of other surprises. Therefore, on September 26, the Cabinet of Ministers passed a direction obliging all the ministries and institutions to gradually raise the prices of electric energy for population during 2001-2004. Finally, the prices must be equal to the expenses for energy production and supply. According to the National Commission of Electric Energy Regulation, today’s prices could compensate only 60 percent of the energy’s production. Though, there are some other views. For example, independent experts claim that the prime cost of electric energy is seven times lower than its selling price (the difference belongs to middlemen). Some privileges in payments for electric energy are intended to be canceled. According to some observers, these measures could be explained with the fact that some district heating plants were recently bought by US and Slovak companies. This supposition was confirmed by Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoli Kinakh, who said at a press conference in Kiev that the Ukrainian government would keep its promises given to these companies: to raise prices of electric energy. The rising in the price of electric energy will cause a general rise in prices. Though the government seems not worry about it: the main thing is to keep the promise. Left-wing parties have already stated that they will hold an all-Ukrainian action of protest against the rising in the price of utilities. The government declared there were not enough reserves of gas and other kinds of fuel for wintering. So, the delivery of electric energy to consumers will be limited. This autumn promises to be hot in Ukraine, irrespective of weather forecasts, though only in a political sense.

Andrei Lubenski PRAVDA.Ru Ukraine

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