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Belarus President demands that utility tariffs be affordable, warns against price hikes

Tariffs for housing and communal services should be affordable to people, said the Belarus President today at the republican seminar dedicated to the improvement and development of the housing and communal services sector.

The topic is certainly important for every Belarusian. According to experts' estimates, it occupies second place in importance after employment. Therefore, it is not surprising that this area can be called a priority for regional leaders in Belarus. Today, about 66% of the population assesses the work of public services positively. This is not enough.

It is still necessary to solve many questions. One of them is the tariffs and the cost of services. In 2018, tariffs for housing and communal services will be approved by the President.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
We have repeatedly agreed that tariffs are raised only by $5 a year and index them in connection with the growth of people's incomes. As far as I know, this increase has already happened - in January 2017. At the same time, the Government, the leading ministries and the Ministry of Trade in September raised tariffs by further 8% and start to frighten people that they should wait for another increase in December, by 10%. And this despite the fact that everyone will objectively pay more due to the inclusion of heating services from November. This is an anti-popular approach to business. So it should not be the case. This will lead to a significant increase in payments, which will undoubtedly cause a negative public response. The case will cause people's resonance.

I do not understand you, the government, governors... Who do you want to please: your people or some international organizations? I set the task for everyone: from 2018 we raise tariffs by only $5 once and in the future no growth without my knowledge.

Tariffs should be affordable for the people. In this connection, I have already told the Government, the State Control Committee to check in detail and on January 1, 2018, we will approve these tariffs with a new decision of the President.

I want to emphasize: you do not need to excite the public by talking about a 100% compensation of the cost of utility services literally from tomorrow. This is a political issue as well. Haste is not allowed here. We will first calculate the tariffs precisely so that the energy sector, those who provide water, do not capitalize on it and so that they don't solve their problems at the expense of the population. And then we will make a decision when we will reach the 100% compensation rate.

But I am convinced, when we very accurately count these tariffs, from the third attempt (we have the relevant experience), the percentage of compensation will be very high. Maybe 90%.

Among the participants of the meeting are representatives of the government, the Administration of the President, heads of ministries, departments, and executive committees. All those who every day deal with housing and communal issues. Waste management, drinking water quality, road conditions, street lighting, maintenance of entrances and courtyards, and heat supply are in the focus. Today the latter is the most expensive service. Heating the water accounts for more than 30% of the amount of utility bills. There are large reserves for the economy. Local fuels should be used more actively for the production of thermal energy. However, for now not everything is all right in this area. There are facts when overwet wood fuel is used and boilers are not in the best condition.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Heat today is very expensive, tomorrow will be even more expensive, and any optimization of boilers turns out to be beneficial for both consumers and the state. In addition, do not forget about the planned replacement of heating systems that are now worn out.

If you do not do it in the required quantities, you will get big problems in the future, which our neighbors regularly face. Not only quarters, but entire cities freeze because of this in Ukraine and Russia. We cannot let even a single house freeze. I hope you heard me.

The problem of servicing communal infrastructure in rural areas is especially acute. Also, the ministry needs to solve the issue of thermal modernization of residential buildings for the sake of savings. You have changed the approaches to this issue. The people appreciated this ambiguously. If people want to make warming more in volume than it is supposed to, then count the rest for them and let people pay the difference. Make an agreement with the builders, manufacturers of insulation and give installments so that it is not unprofitable. This is also a significant saving.

In addition, many questions arise with the repair of housing. Over 2% of the housing stock annually undergoes major repairs. But questions arise with its quality and timing. By 2020, the elevators around the country need to be brought in proper condition too. In this case, it is necessary to seek solutions together with industrial companies. Today, they face the task of improving the performance of the lifts produced in Belarus.

Belarus President demands that utility tariffs be affordable