Public utilities

April 22, 2016 18:11

In June, housing and public utilities tariffs increased by 6.5%. Nevertheless public utilities tariffs remain low relative to population’s incomes and the lowest in the region. However, this industry’s low return started affecting the quality of housing and households.

Following the increase, the hot water tariff will be Br 60 140 per Gcal (previously - Br53 773 per Gcal), cold water services – Br 900 per cubic meter (previously – Br 585 per cubic meter), sewage – Br 550 per cubic meter (previously – Br 305 per cubic meter).

Utility payments for a family of three living in a typical two-room apartment (48 square meters) will increase by Br 17 thousand, or 8.6% (including heating). The monthly cost of housing and utility services for a family of three living in a typical two-room apartment (48 square meters) during the heating season will be Br 216.4 thousand, and during the summer season – Br 137.9 thousand. This small increase in costs will hardly affect families’ budgets.

Housing Ministry states that currently the population is paying less than 13% of the public utility services due, however 2012 budget envisages populations’ input at 35%. The Ministry also argues that direct payments for utility services do not exceed 8% of an average family’s budget

Undoubtedly, housing services tariffs will continue increasing in the future in particular, with the commencement of the heating season the prices will rise more significantly. Moreover, it is anticipated that the authority to regulate tariffs for the maintenance of elevators, technical services, repairs, water and sewer will be delegated to regional executive committees and Minsk City Executive Committee. Currently, all utility services tariffs are regulated by the Government. These tariffs, except water, make an insignificant share in the monthly direct payments by the population and it is unlikely that the local authorities will take the risk to make serious changes to the payments’ proportions.

Incomes growth has resulted in debt reduction for housing services: in January-April 2012 it has decreased by 10.8% as compared with identical period in 2011 and amounted to Br 33.5 billion. In January-April 2012 12.9 thousand people were cut off utility services for nonpayment (water, electricity and gas). There were 2.8 thousand lawsuits filed to courts to recover debts, amounting to Br1.6 billion. There were 41 eviction cases for long-term non-payment for utility services.

Low costs on housing and utility services for the population result in a gradual non-recoverable degradation of housing and communications. The number of public complaints about quality of services, housing, communications, heating, electricity, and water supply is increasing.