30% of Ukrainians Didn’t Have Money to Pay Their Utility Bills Last Month

30% of Ukrainians Didn’t Have Money to Pay Their Utility Bills Last Month

19:39 16.01.2015(updated 20:04 16.01.2015)
http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150116/1016989990.html

MOSCOW, January 16 (Sputnik) — Over 28 percent of Ukrainians were unable to pay their utilities bills in December, compared with a November non-payment rate of only 1.2 percent, Ukrainian newspaper Vesti has reported.

The President of the Ukrainian Analytical Center Alexander Ohrimenko told Vesti that people simply have no money to pay their bills. “Peoples’ wages have not grown, and therefore they cannot pay. If at the start of the 2000s [private] debt comprised $11 billion US, it’s quite possible that it will soon increase to $20 billion,” Ohrimenko noted.

Ex-utilities minister Oleksiy Kucherenko noted that the problem stems in large part to the fact that “people do not believe in the economic justifications for the tariffs,” largely “because so few people have utilities counters.”

Ohrimenko also noted that the government’s plan to compensate about 30 percent of the population over the rising rates hasn’t been successful, with “only 4.6 percent of people receiving [the compensation], since by law factually only single pensioners are entitled to it. And the compensation amounts to only 122 Hryvnia (about $7.70 US) which is really just a drop in the bucket,” Ohrimenko explained. Ex. Minister Kucherenko added that the government itself is setting up artificial barriers, saying for example that if a person or his relatives have “some Zaporozhets [an inexpensive Ukrainian car] or a run-down shack, which is listed as a summer dacha” they may not qualify for the subsidy.

The head of the ‘Kievenergo’ Energy Supervisory Board Ivan Plachkov believes that the debt may lead to irreparable consequences, not just for utilities customers, but for energy companies as well. “Generating companies will simply not have the money to buy gas, coal, fuel oil, electricity. As a result, we will have emergency electrical outages and radiators which aren’t as warm as we would like,” Plachkov said. Other problems faced by energy companies include the lack of funds for the repair of equipment and for payment of wage arrears, which may result in a partial breakdown of the country’s energy system in the future.

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