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United Russia leadership orders regional members to monitor utility tariffs

August 12, 2013, 15:57 UTC+3
Opposition parties are trying to capitalize on these topics ahead of the elections, and mislead the people in order to gain political dividends, according to Sergei Neverov
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MOSCOW, August 12 (Itar-Tass) - Secretary of the United Russia's General Council Sergei Neverov ordered the regional Party branches to monitor utility tariffs, weekend markets and the situation with kindergartens.

"These are the issues people are so concerned about today, i.e. the prices of staple foodstuffs, services in the housing and utilities sector and the situation with kindergartens," Neverov said at a video conference on Monday involving the Party leadership, regional and municipal deputies and supervisors of the key Party projects, such as People's Control, House Manager and Kindergartens for Children.

The conference was a follow up of the meeting with the Party chairman, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last week.

According to Neverov, Opposition parties are trying to capitalize on these topics ahead of the elections, and mislead the people in order to gain political dividends. "You have to explain to the people the real situation in these areas, and make all efforts to prevent such problems wherever they might appear," he said.

One of the topics exploited by Opposition activists is the increase in natural monopolies' tariffs from July 1. "Our opponents actively use it to fan tensions, scare people and urge them to stage protests. In this connection, it is particularly important to step up the work to monitor the operation of management companies. If companies' price hikes are not justified, you should take measures. We have leverage to do it," the Secretary said.

He cited monitoring data which said of 25,000 municipalities across the country, inadmissible price hikes had been reported in just 146. The situation must be carefully monitored in the Vologda, Novosibirsk, and Sverdlovsk regions, and the republics of Buryatia and Khakasia, where prices increased by more than 20 percent.

As of now, many regions set up the public councils to monitor the situation in the housing and public utilities sector. "We have to pool our efforts," Neverov said.

"Our Party activists, especially participants in the House Manager project, should provide assistance to the councils to resolve the issues concerning the operation of management companies. If necessary, our activists can sit on these councils. Another important task is to draw a clear summary of the pricing policy principles in the housing and public utilities sector for the population."

During the discussion of the situation with the availability of places in kindergartens, Neverov reminded that "as of today, 50 billion rubles have been allocated to settle this problem."

"Recently, Dmitry Medvedev ordered to allocate an extra one billion rubles. It is important for the Party to control an effective use of these funds," the United Russia secretary underscored.

Opposition activists alleged an increase in the costs of attending kindergartens, as the new law on education would come into force from September 1. "It's another 'scare'," Neverov said. "Dmitry Medvedev stated at the recent meeting that no major price hikes were planned. As for the regions that plan small price corrections, I'd recommend our Party branches to visit such kindergartens to find out the reasons and rectify the situation if these decisions are not justified."

The third topic discussed during the video conference was the organization of weekend markets and fairs where food producers could sell their products without intermediaries. "Some regions already run such fairs. It's necessary to develop this line, because it's an opportunity for our agribusinesses to sell our products without the pressure on the part of resellers. For our citizens, it is an opportunity to buy fresh and useful foodstuffs directly from producers."

He urged Party members to talk to people in regions to identify the convenient locations for such fairs, and have municipal bodies help secure sanitary and epidemiological control over food.

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