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Dripping people’s money to the budget holes

A. Gritsyshin, Ternopil
A small sensation among the population of the town of Ternopil was caused by the decision of the local council to increase the cost of running water and canalization by 2 - 3 times since 1 February. The oblast council of trade unions protested against the decision and turned to the prosecutor’s office of the town. In this protest it was noticed that the rise in the costs of communal services will lead to the further increase of the population debt, enormous as it is now, and further fall of the living standard.

In the discussion of the local authorities’ initiative the head of the oblast council of trade unions Roman Zamkovy remarked that such innovations contradict to the operating law of Ukraine ’On making changes in the Ukrainian law on prices and setting prices’, according to which any increase of prices for living and communal services is prohibited until the pay arrears of wages, pensions and stipends are liquidated. Besides, the increase of prices for communal services contradict the common sense, since the living standard of the population of Ternopil is falling. The mean wages in 1999 equaled Hr 112 in the oblast (and less than Hr 80 for workers of culture). According to the new prices, a family living in a two-room flat must pay about Hr 160 - 170, while those who reside in a three-room flat must pay more than Hr 200 per month.

Where shall we take money? - ask the town dwellers. They express the desire to have some food as well and to purchase some clothes, to say nothing about the bills for telephone and electricity, which are not included in the communal services.

Some poorest people have subsidies, that is right. But in the town of Ternopil the local legislation permits to give subsidies only to those, who have jobs, so if one lost a job and remained absolutely without means, than one may not dream about any subsidies. The fight with debtors is cruel: if one has got into debts, wait for a summon to the prosecutor’s office, where they worn: either pay, or your property will be confiscated.

Every year the prices for communal services soar, and nobody knows when the growth ends. Nobody knows either, what is the actual cost of these services. Some officials, God knows how, fabricated the number 250. Presumably this is the number of liters of water that a town dweller consumes per month. Now other 50 liters are added to this quota without any measurements.

There is another aspect of this problem. Rising the cost for communal services, nobody takes to attention the quality of the services. The fact that hot water happens only at nighttime and that cold water hardly drips from faucets on the upper stories is never taken into account, as well as the color of the water: very often, instead of being clean and transparent, the faucets produce a rusty brown liquid with the stench of road puddles. Nonetheless, the crystal clear water and this liquid must be paid with the same money.

Certainly, such a situation with the communal services exists not only in Ternopil. Such abuses of elementary human rights occur in every oblast. The local authorities, loudly complaining at the grave economic conditions, create their own laws and try their best to fill their budgets, full of holes, by the drops from the beggars’ purses. The Cabinet of Ministers knows well about this problem, but it does not try to give well-grounded calculations of the costs of communal services. So, the fantasies of the local authorities have no restrains.

As to the situation in Ternopil, the local bosses have suspended their efforts under the pressure of trade unions. Surely, they will resume their activities very soon. They will do so because the state budget for the current year, as well as related laws, do not plan any grants in this sphere and the demands of the IMF must be fulfilled. It is and will be done at the expense of the pauperized population.

Is the people’s patience infinite?
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