The new idea of the Russian government, which is about the reform of the public utilities system, has not received any support from Russian citizens. The most interesting aspect here is that both the government and the people want the public utilities to stop being a headache and an irritating thing to deal with. However, the solutions offered by the federal and local governments have caused a lot of irritation on the part of common people, who were supposed to live better because of these reforms.
The Central Directorate of the Russian Ministry for Justice in Moscow considers the initiative of the Moscow government to raise public utilities tariffs as of January 1 illegal. The Moscow department of the ministry stated that such decrees must come into legal force only ten days after they are officially published, according to the federal legislation. However, the mentioned decree was published on January 11, whereas the public utilities tariffs were increased on January 1 of the current year. Furthermore, lawyers have pointed out that the public utilities tariffs are to be approved by the Moscow mayor and Moscow city administration. In this case, there was no coordination with the Moscow city administration. In this connection, the Moscow department of the Russian Justice Ministry suggested that the Moscow government bring their decision into line with federal laws.
Many citizens were happy to know that there are very few who are ready to pay the new tariffs. However, this happiness did not last long. On April 11, the Moscow energy company Mosenergo announced another increase in the prices of electricity. These tariffs will be increased by 20% from May 1 for Muscovites and by 15% for industrial enterprises. The price for heating will also rise: by 20% for the population and by 12% for industries. Therefore, there is nothing to be happy about: the burden of the public utilities reform will have to be carried by the people of Russia.
The major argument of the government is the fact that the growth of the public utilities tariffs will be accompanied with the improvement of these services: private firms will enter this market, and they will compete for clients. Well, this is hard to believe. Is there a madman who wishes to invest money in an apartment building that is 30 or 40 years old? This is what the majority of Russian real estate looks like. Therefore, prices are sure to grow, but quality will not.
Public utilities reform is gradually obtaining a political character instead of a socio-economic character. Up to 30-thousand people took part in a demonstration in the Russian city of Voronezh on April 11. These people protested against the increase in payments. This was a big event for the provincial town. Is there any guarantee that the communists will not be able to use this for their own purposes? There is not very much time left before the elections to the Duma.
In general, anything you try to improve in Russia cannot be improved smoothly. The most important thing here is that there is a strong need in public utilities reform, before they are completely broken. However, the way of simply raising prices for the population is not good for progress. Otherwise, thousands of people will march in the streets, and not only in Voronezh.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated