Belarus President approves new tariffs amid utility price row

Belarus President approves new tariffs amid utility price row

Water supply and elevator maintenance will be cheaper. The President of Belarus has approved the tariffs for basic public utilities. The President ordered an in-depth review of utility costs after the January price rises. Alexander Lukashenko demanded that the real value of the services be specified in utility bills. And utilities should be transparent and understandable to the public. The decree on the new tariff policy will be signed in the near future.

Transparent charging system: with the help of simple mathematical operations everyone will now be able to calculate how much they need to pay. New bills will come to Belarusians already in March. However, utility workers warn that due to the recalculations the bills will be late this month. But payment time will be extended until the beginning of next month, without incurring penalties.

The working group initiated by the President carefully studied the reasons for the price hikes and some criminal cases were initiated.  

On March 14, it all was reported to the head of state. Yes, there are reserves to reduce the "price tag". But the main demand is to set tariffs at an objective level.

Alexander Lukashenko:
The most important thing for us was not to reduce the tariffs as media say. We will have to reduce tariffs now, but not much and not for everyone. But this is not the question. The question is to work out objective rates, the rates that the entire population will know, that were adopted by the President. Every person should be able to calculate the price. I tell you this because today utility bills are so intricate that a devil will break his legs! Even economists don't entirely understand these bills.  If one wants exact numbers, this means that there must be water, gas, heat meters installed. There are those meters in the majority of houses. If there are no meters, then some other method should be applied. But the price of this service must be real.

Experts have found reserves for savings in three positions. Water supply in comparison with the same period will fall in price by 41.5%: BYR2,790 per cubic meter. The January price was more than BYR4,700. The cost of water disposal is down 55% to BYR1,860 rubles against BYR4,150. Finally, elevator maintenance will cost BYR7,000 per person. This is 30% less than in January. These tariffs will be valid for the rest of the year.

Reserves to reduce the costs are in place, studies show. Therefore, even when the percentage of utility cost compensation by consumers goes up to 50%, the sums in utility bills will not change.

Alexander Lukashenko:
We say that once the population will pay 100% of the service. But do not tell people that it will be in 2018. I did not say that. This may happen in 2020 or in 2025. This will depend on how people will live. We are planning somewhere in 2018. Thank God if it happens. But people must have the money to pay for such services. Therefore, the exact timing is unknown. Let's live to see this. But today we just need to set clear tariffs which everyone will understand.
I would like today to hear what happened with those who falsified the figures, who offended our people and thus stole the money from the budget. I entrusted to you to initiate criminal cases and to punish them. There are no untouchables, everyone should be responsible.

The cost of energy will be recalculated by a similar scheme. Cost reduction, clarity and transparency will be the main principles here. Specific real numbers will be announced after all calculations are made and optimization is completed.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Expensive or cheap is, as you know, a philosophical question. But people really need to see this price approved by the President. And I just once again want to publicly warn those professionals: guys if you don't fulfill my demand and present the people the wrong figures then you will not be spared when we later find out you cheated. Then there will be no forgiveness.      

Public utilities services will recalculate the bills not only for the last month, but also for January. All the changes will be made individually, depending on the square, the number of people registered and so on.

And yet another innovation for the benefit of a fair payment of utility bills: liability for intentional misrepresentation will be tightened. We are talking about the so-called magnets, which allow manipulating figures utility meter readings.

In addition, the Government continues to work on a document on housing subsidies. Those whose utility payments exceed a certain percentage of family income will receive compensations. The estimated threshold for urban residents is 20%, while for villagers it is 15%.