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Finansoviye Izvestia, September 12, 2003

Let's Put Monopolists on the Meter

Citizens' Payment for Water Exceeds the Real Costs by 3.5 Times

By Mikhail Dichev

On Thursday Grigory Yavlinsky and his deputy heads in the YABLOKO faction Sergei Mitrokhin and Igor Artemyev drew preliminary results of their campaign "Let's Put the Monopolists on the Meter". A ten-month long campaign demonstrated that citizens' payment for water exceeds the real costs by 3.5 times. YABLOKO is going to submit to the State Duma a draft law aimed at eliminating these discrepancies.

Yavlinsky noted: "Here you have an example of how the political parties and movements work in a practical sense. We think that is how the election campaign money, which was gathered with such difficulty, should be spent." By way of confirmation of the words of the YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin demonstrated a part of the water pipe with a hot and cold water meter.

The installation of one such meter costs 5,000 roubles. The costs were recouped.

About a year ago YABLOKO leaders loudly announced the beginning of a new action: meters were installed in flats in 11 regions of Russia and consumption of water was measured for several months. Then the households forwarded documents on their payment for water to the party. YABLOKO demonstrated the results to the journalists. The figures highlighted the following situation: in some cases the normative price of the [ ater provision] service exceeded the real one by 12.3 times (by 3.5. in Russia in general). If the person did not live in the flat and correspondingly did not use water, a fairly high figure still appeared on the bill. The action detected the regions with an especially high gap between normative and real water consumption: Moscow, Moscow region and Ulyanovsk. "The present system of the housing and utilities sector is based on the unconstitutional deceit of citizens," said Yavlinsky.

"The money that we are overpaying for water, heat, etc, said Mitrokhin, - goes down the holes in the pipes and dirty entrances to apartment blocks, non-core expenditures of the utilities enterprises - their cars and their own out-patient departments, the purchase of television companies, political parties and conducting of PR campaigns.

YABLOKO not only disclosed this deceit, but also proposed some real ways of rectifying the situation: the creation of multiple public associations to protect citizens' rights in the housing and utilities sector, and then their incorporation in a nationwide organisation, which enterprises of all types of property functioning in the housing and utilities sector would have to consider. The faction promised to submit a number of draft laws this autumn to the Duma aimed at monitoring the over monopolies in the housing and utilities sector. The goal is to attract the citizens to monitor the monopolies and encourage small and medium-sized businesses to work in the housing and utilities sector. By way of economic incentives for small and medium-sized businesses YABLOKO's deputies proposed tax cuts for such enterprises. YABLOKO thinks that taxation for small and medium-scale businesses functioning in the housing and utilities sector should be reduced to the income tax level - i.e. 13%. It also proposes reducing tariffs for those who install meters and unite with their neighbours to monitor the suppliers of heat, water, electricity and conducts refurbishing.

YABLOKO's deputies submitted to the Duma in spring 2003 a complete package of amendments to the laws regulating relations in the housing and utilities sector. Yavlinsky informed the press that in autumn YABLOKO plans to propose to Duma deputies a separate law which will become a "kind of code of human rights" in the housing and utilities sector.


See also:

Housing and Utilities Reform

Finansoviye Izvestia, September 12, 2003

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