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What reforms await housing and utilities in Belarus?

Against the backdrop of instability in many regions of the world, our Belarusian problems seem insignificant. Simple things - warmth in the house, cleanliness and order - are considered the hallmarks of the country. Therefore, the President of Belarus deals with this personally.

Alexander Lukashenko took part in the republican seminar on the improvement of the housing and communal services system, where the concept of the development of housing and communal services until 2025 was discussed. Concept is concept, but the cost of services should be reasonable and transparent. The President put it simply: the price should be affordable for the people.

Heat and light. Such an atmosphere reigns in the Palace of Independence. To save it in every house and apartment, 300 leaders and officials gathered here at the seminar. In scale, it is not even a meeting but a plenum on housing and communal services.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
The main question, which is the most disputed between us and the International Monetary Fund, other organizations and structures, is whether people need to start paying 100% of the cost of communal services.

The government was in favor of the IMF proposal: to increase tariffs and remove cross subsidization. The President defended the interests of the people.

Alexander Lukashenko:
This is an anti-popular approach to this. So it should not be the case. I set the task for everyone: from 2018 we raise tariffs by only $5. And in the future there must be no growth. This is what Semashko and the industrial sector of the country really want. Please, we do not mind. But you will have to raise salary and raise significantly.

The head of state paid attention to the real costs of services.

Alexander Lukashenko:
We will first calculate the tariffs precisely for the energy sector so that those who provide water and other services do not solve their problems at the expense of the population. I am convinced that when we very accurately count these tariffs, from the third attempt (we do have the relevant experience), the percentage of compensation will be very high. Maybe 90%. No one can capitalize on people's money. If such facts are revealed, the minister should look for another job.

The presence of intermediaries in housing and utilities services significantly increases costs.

Alexander Lukashenko:
This will be given special attention. All corruption is there. All those whom we put in prison recently were caught precisely on these problems. As soon as you start using intermediaries, law enforcement officers and supervisors will immediately come to you. I firmly promise you that.

Even boilers purchase wood fuel through third parties. In the same area, the price of different intermediaries is several times different. But remember that heat energy is the most significant item - one-third of all costs.

There are problems, and the Belarusian authorities are not hiding from them. On the contrary, the housing services is among the most modernized industries. Even the mayor of Minsk is a former minister of housing and communal services.

First, the multi-story capital faces the issues of public utilities in the most acute way; secondly, the experience of the metropolis is acceptable for the whole country.

Mayor Andrei Shorets introduced a number of innovations. Among them are house masters. The overall image of the Minsk housing and public utilities and the salary of former plumbers - both have risen. Now the pipes do not leak and personnel turnover has decreased in the field of housing services. Almost half of the 11 basic housing and communal services are provided by alternative contractors on competitive terms.

Alexander Lukashenko:
The competitive principle of the choice of the performer that is suggested is a good idea and it will be obligatory. Otherwise, not only Anfimov [head of the State Control Committee], but also Shunevich [interior minister] will ask you a question. Very often we see children, relatives and mistresses who do not know how to do anything at all. Who are your contractors - look.

Every year on average every Belarusian leaves almost half a ton of solid waste. In Minsk, the landfill Severnyi (Northern) is visible not only from the presidential helicopter, but even from outer space. But in the west of Belarus dumps are melting like snow in the spring. This is because Brest has built a unique waste-processing plant.

Alexander Lukashenko:
I had to make a difficult decision on the construction of this plant. This was our first experience. I remember, we thought for a long time, I was persuaded, someone was imprisoned out there... Then I said firmly and made a decision - we need to start somewhere. It's scary to see that we are littering the country completely. That's why we need to act in this direction.

Annually, 2% of the housing stock is subject to a capital upgrade. The mark of 3% is not far off. But here we need to clearly distinguish: painting the entrance is what tenants must do. But roof repairs is, of course, the state's business.

Alexander Lukashenko:
People should know what they should do, must do with their own hands and what they should do together with representatives of the housing and communal services and the state. And what they do not have to do at all.

The budget should not spend resources on small improvements of cities and scales. In each district, there are both rich people and idle locals.

Alexander Lukashenko:
We have schools, factories, just private enterprises and others located on a particular plot of land in a particular city block, first of all. So make them tidy up these territories. You control it!

The care of the state is in higher responsibility. The President focused on the state of the country's elevators. Each third lift booth in high-rise buildings has exceeded the period of its operation. The problem must be solved by 2020.

Alexander Lukashenko:
I think you heard what I said. God forbid the elevator falls somewhere.

Almost half of Belarus' regional centers have no stations for deironing water. This means that a quarter of the drinking water in the Dnieper is with increased iron content. Belarus, which is rich in fresh water, must solve the problems with "clean water" over the next 7 years.

Belarus, like the whole world, is now shifting from the economy of services to a knowledge economy. It is science that must help the communal sphere become better.

Vladimir Gusakov, Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus:
It was decided to establish a research institute of housing and communal services in the Academy of Sciences.

But regardless of any innovative methods, the traditional approach to housing and communal services is as follows: the Belarusian state will help in paying housing bills. Control over the increase in tariffs will be very strict. Those with low income will have non-cash grants.

Europeans have large utility bills, and Belarus' nearest neighbors have big communal problems. Dark windows in the evenings in Lithuania, illegal schemes of depriving people of apartments in Ukraine and trillions of municipal debts in Russia.

Alexander Lukashenko:
This cannot be allowed! So let privateers come. Tariffs will be indicated, and let them work in this situation. It remains to only monitor the quality of their work. You do not hurry to destroy the current structure in favor of some dubious companies and events.

Belarus does not have huge hydrocarbon deposits, but utility bills are the lightest. Belarus is not among the richest countries in Europe, but every factory worker can afford an almost aristocratic procedure for Europeans every night - a hot bath. In Belarus, utilities services remain socially oriented. Instead of "Live as you wish," Belarus offers its citizens to "Live as a master on your land". It only depends on people's desire.

What reforms await housing and utilities in Belarus?