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YABLOKO's action demonstrates that consumers overpay for utilities several times

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Preliminary results of the "Let's Put Monopolists on the Meter" action conducted in Russia's regions by the Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO have demonstrated that real consumption of water in houses and flats is far less than that envisaged by the standard rates - up to 1.5 to 7 times less.


The tests were conducted in Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Tula, Samara, Balgoveschensk, Moscow and Moscow Region from June to August 2003. The biggest discrepancies were discovered in Moscow, Moscow region and Ulyanovsk.

A number of lawsuits were brought against housing and utilities entities in view of the violation of citizens' rights. All the lawsuits were accepted by the courts.

In view of the envisaged reform of the housing and utilities sector, the task of the programme "Let's Put Monopolists on the Meter" is to determine the real volume and quality of housing and utilities services provided to the population.

The first stage of the programme envisaged the installation of metres for hot and cold water in houses, as well as determination of the real volume of consumption and comparison of this level with the amount payable to housing and utilities enterprises

At present St. Petersburg, Cheboksari, Kirov and Murmansk have already joined the programme, Barnaul, Omsk, Kemerovo, and the Maritime Territory are going to join.

Further development of the programme "Let's Put Monopolists on the Meter" envisages that it will spread further to other Russian regions and will control heating and the provision of other utilities services on top of the organisation of measurements of water consumption.

The final goal of the YABLOKO project is to create a constructive model of housing and utilities reform based on the principles of social justice, civil control, competition, demonopolisation and the fostering of small business. Such statements were made at a press conference at the State Duma on Thursday, September 11, 2003 devoted to the results of the campaign. The Chairman of YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky and two of his deputies - Sergei Mitrokhin and Igor Artemyev - participated in the conference.

Yavlinsky said that the present costs paid by the state for maintenance of the housing and utilities sector were "astronomical". 'Such a situation and such quality of services will be preserved as long as the government engages in rhetoric instead of real efficient reform of the sector," noted Yavlinsky.

Mitrokhin in turn stated that the citizens have to pay "both for the water which goes down the holes in the pipes and for the heating of the streets, and when large monopolist holds the sector - even for maintenance of non-core assets - television companies and political parties. And the government proposes that we pay even more for all this!" said deputy Head of YABLOKO.

Mitrokhin also insists that monopolies in the housing and utilizes sector are extremely dangerous, as "monopolists can do the minimum and get the maximum." Mitrokhin also said thatYABLOKO had prepared a draft law "On the protection of consumers' rights in housing and utilities sector" and would soon submit it to the State Duma.

Deputy Head of YABKLOKO Igor Artemyev thinks that the envisaged increase in tariffs will deepen the poverty of many Russian citizens. He also said that about 34 million Russian citizens live below the poverty line, i.e. have an income lower than the subsistence minimum.

One of the water meters which YABLOKO sets in flats in different regions of the country was also demonstrated at the press conference. YABLOKO's experts calculated the significant cost of this device, but said that the cost had been recouped in several months. In addition, YABLOKO notes that the suppliers of the services, rather than the consumers, who should care about setting the meters. "Are you forced to buy your own meter when you take a taxi?", the participants of the press conference asked ironically.

See also:

Housing and Utilities Reform
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