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MOSCOW, November 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed the government to work on the issue of prepayment for gas and other utility services for population before December 5.
“This initiative of the government, which was voiced in the previous week, made people anxious and probably no less than the idea of the deputies to ban the US dollars in the country,” Novye Izvestia daily reported. “Frozen tariffs and Dmitry Medvedev’s pledge to put an end to ‘the gas communism’, when people delay the payments for fuel supplies, mean that the Russian major gas concern now intends to take Russian consumers as they did with the Ukrainians before and “shut down the gas valves” repeatedly. Experts noted that tougher payment discipline will not allow resolving the problems in the housing and public utility sector that are snowballing and the gas monopoly will win little from this.
These measures towards the Russian population are hardly explainable, as the main debtors are not residents, but the enterprises, the daily stated. Presently, according to Gazprom’s estimates, at least 13 Russian regions are facing the termination or limitation of gas supplies by the public utilities. In six regions the restrictions are already in effect. People in Makhachkala, Vladikavkaz and Bryansk, several settlements in Krasnodar Territory and Ingushetia and the Moscow region town of Sergiev Posad were left without hot water in the previous week.
Experts believe, the current Gazprom policy, which dictates its conditions to the authorities and people, proves once again that the only way to settle the situation is the creation of a competitive gas market. “The creation of several companies instead of ‘dispossessed’ monopoly would permit to strengthen the competition in this segment and reduce the tariffs for people,” chief economist of the Development Centre of the national research university Higher School of Economics Valery Mironov told Novye Izvestia daily. “The fact that they want to ‘tighten the screws’ in administrative ways will not solve the problems, particularly those of the gas monopoly,” he added.
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