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Russian authorities want to oblige people to credit services of natural monopolies

November 18, 2013, 17:40 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Ruslan Shamukov

MOSCOW, November 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian authorities are looking for new ways to replenish the country’s budget and the budgets of the state-run corporations at the expense of the payments levied from people. The government intends to introduce the prepayment for consumed gas and electric power for individuals. This new rule will oblige Russian citizens to pay not for the services actually provided by the housing and public utility sector, but to make advanced payments for these services.

The debt on the electric power retail market is stably high and fluctuates at the level of about 90 billion rubles (about $2.7 billion) and higher. The power utilities with the support of the authorities intend to bridge this gap thanks to the prepayment for their services.

Experts noted that the schemes with the prepayment for consumed electricity were put into practice in several Western countries and the former Soviet republics that helped to reach the level of full payment. But with the interval electricity meters installed in most flats the control over the real power consumption is complicated. Modern ‘smart’ metering devices should be installed that the bill on energy efficiency envisages. Meanwhile, the price of one electricity meter, which permits to control the power consumption, makes 100-150 euro. A total number of metering devices that should be replaced in Russia will exceed 20 million and the expenditures for this modernization will reach three billion euro.

The government intends to introduce a monthly quota of 70 KW for electric power consumption at a specified price in 2014-2015. The payment for electric power consumption above the limit will be much higher. “In different Russian regions the approach to setting the power consumption standards will be differentiated. But 70 KW or 140 KW — all this is not enough for the life of the civilized person, who got accustomed to use modern home appliances,” chief scientific fellow of the Institute of the Problems of Globalization Mikhail Delyagin told Itar-Tass.

So, the cold and hot water consumption will be regulated on the basis of the consumption limit set at the socially oriented prices.

Meanwhile, the State Duma lower house of Russian parliament plans to debate a bill, which proposes to retain the benefit on the personal property tax only for three real estate entities per one person. For instance, this benefit can be kept for a flat, a countryside house and a household building. And people will have to pay the full tax for the garage. The veterans of World War Two, pensioners, disabled people and several other categories of people enjoy tax benefits in Russia. There are 25.8 millions of them from 71 million payers of the personal property tax.

“The personal property taxes subject to payment in 2012 have reached 27.3 billion rubles (about $835 million). The tax benefits amounted to 18 billion rubles (about $550.7 million) that make more than two thirds of tax payments,” deputy director of the institute of tax management and real estate economy of the Higher School of Economics Tatiana Shkolnaya has made this calculating report for Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.

So, the growth of payments on many vitally important needs of Russian citizens and the growth of taxes is obvious.

Experts link this tendency with worse economic indicators and the problems of the Russian budget for 2014-2016. “The money is always not enough, even in wealthy budgets; therefore, the taxation services are looking for sources of additional monetary funds. There is nothing surprising in it. For instance, 80 new tax laws have been enacted in France for the last two years,” Professor of the Higher School of Economics Mikhail Berger told Itar-Tass. In his view, this is the general world trend, which is particularly characteristic for the countries with socially oriented economies, including Russia.

“The personal tax revenues are transferred in the budgets of Russian regions, which are living through hard times over a deteriorating general economic climate. People have the falling amount of money amid the economic recession; the collection of taxes and payments is worsening. Therefore, the lawmakers and state monopolies have the intention to increase the duties and fees thanks to a growing number of new initiatives,” Mikhail Delyagin told Itar-Tass.

“The state authorities banned the national monopolies to increase the electric power tariffs. But the monopolies have found a solution quickly, proposing to introduce the quotas for electric power consumption and the advanced payment for electric power and gas supplies that is to say to credit ‘the unhappy billionaires’. This is an additional financial burden on private customers. But in our country the budget problems of the state-owned corporations and the natural monopolies are traditionally settled at the expense of ordinary people, but not at the expense of Gazprom and Rosneft,” the expert added.