Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'm reading about the utilities and tariffs disasters - a typically endless piece in Zerkalo Nedeli (in Russian, though they'll probably translate it sometime next week). The piece covers Donetsk, Odesa and Zaporizhzhya regions (dry stats for the last two).

Here're two passages on hot water in Donetsk region:

Donetsk region's housing and communal services system is extremely diverse and carries the traits of the reformative labors of all the previous Ukrainian governments. Most towns and villages are served old-fashionedly, by the companies working at the regional level - the water is supplied by DonetskOblVodoKanal, and DonetskTeploKommunEnergo is providing the heat in winter. There is no hot water in small towns. Only relatively big ones with the actively working industry have it - Donetsk, Mariupol, Kramatorsk and a few others. But the communal services there have been the property of local councils for a long time; in their own lingo, communal service employees call such water and heat suppliers "independent."


In cities with "independent" water and heat suppliers, the local governments were the first to raise the issue of the new tariffs. Officials read the Law on the Housing and Communal Services and realized that after gas and electricity prices go up, they'll either have to compensate for the losses of the communal services from local budgets, or raise prices to the "economically justified level." According to the mayors, there's no money for compensation - and there won't be any in the future. This is why local authorities were very determined in demanding understanding and approval of such an unpopular step by the population - and they even came close to using direct blackmail. For example, after gas prices went up July 1, they immediately turned off hot water in the seaside city of Mariupol. City officials announced that they'll return [it] only after the new tariffs have been adopted. Exactly one month later, on August 1, Mariupol began to live [with new tariffs]. Communal prices went up nearly twice, within the limits of the "region's average."

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