“Anti-Social Norms”: What Can Happen as a Result of Ukraine’s Refusal to Give Subsidies for Utilities

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



Three Ukrainian cities — Kamensk (the former Dneprodzerzhinsk), Pavlograd, and Novomoskovsk — will be completely disconnected from the centralised heat supply this year, said a source in the Ministry for Regional Development, Building and Housing to RT. The same fate can happened to no less than ten more settlements in the next few months — their administrations already prepare the documents necessary for the adoption of this decision. It isn’t excluded that even Kiev will be affected by problems with the supply of hot water and heating in the winter. In order to not freeze, Ukrainians will be obliged to get water-heating boilers.

Without water and heating

From August 1st Kiev may be left without hot water, and from the beginning of the heating season — without heat too. “Naftogaz” [not to be confused with Gazprom – ed] refused to sign a contract for the transfer of gas to the new supplier of hot water and heat – the “Kievteploenergo” company – until “Kievenergo”, belonging to Rinat Akhmetov, satisfies the debt of about 5 billion hryvnia. Because of this about 3,000 houses in the capital were already disconnected from hot water, and another 7,000 can lose the “benefits of civilisation” from August 1st.

“The position of ‘Naftogaz’ shows an unwillingness to use civilised methods, especially considering the monopoly position of the company. Thus ‘Naftogaz’ doesn’t take into account the interests of consumers — residents of Kiev who were left without vital services,” wrote the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko and the adviser to the mayor of Kiev Dmitry Belotserkovets on his page on Facebook.

Another large Ukrainian city – Kharkov – also faced similar problems too. The “Kharkov Heating Systems” company stopped thermal power plant-5, which provided about 320 houses with hot water, because of a debt of 700 million hryvnia ($26.9 million). The source in the company reported to RT that until the autumn the houses won’t receive hot water, and their heating during the winter period remains undecided.

“Ukraine can’t subsidise any more the population and businesses that don’t pay for utilities. That’s why all will be massively disconnected from water, heat, electricity, and gas. Yes, these are anti-social norms, but they are fair,” explained a source in the Ministry for Regional Development, Building and Housing to RT.

There is no money — there is no heat

Obeying the demands of the IMF, since 2014 Ukraine increased the cost of utilities by two-three times — the main creditor demanded to exclude the housing-and-municipal sphere from subsidies. Now in Kiev the owner of a three-room apartment of about 70 sq.m will pay for the service of the house’s adjoining territory, utilities, and the Internet – about 4,000 hryvnias (about $150) per month.

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It became more difficult to receive a subsidy for the payment of utilities: all applicants are checked for the existence of a car, trips abroad, or large purchases, which now are the grounds for the refusal to give state support.

“I work as a teacher at school, my husband is a doctor in the State clinic, our total salary is slightly more than 10,000 hryvnia. A month ago we were deprived by subsidies only because we went to Egypt. We saved up for two years for this trip and chose the most economical hotel,” said the inhabitant of Kiev Natalya Ozhigova to RT, having added that now a half of the family’s income goes on the payment of utilities.

“The IMF doesn’t understand that the population is indeed not able to pay such high tariffs,” recognized the deputy dean of the faculty of global economics and global politics of the National Research University of the Higher School of Economics Andrey Suzdaltsev in a conversation with RT. “People have no money, and that’s why they don’t pay”.

According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, at the end of February, 2018 the population owed 40.6 billion hryvnia ($1.6 billion) for housing-and-municipal services, whereas for the end of February of last year this figure was 29.5 billion hryvnia ($1.13 billion). The debts of the population increased by 37.6% in comparison with the same period of 2017.

“By the end of February, 2018 the debt of the population for natural gas payments was 16.4 billion hryvnia ($630 million), for the centralised heating and hot water service — 14.4 billion hryvnia ($554 million), for the maintenance of houses and constructions and territories adjoining houses — 3.8 billion hryvnia ($146 million), for the centralized supply of cold water and a drainage system — 1.8 billion hryvnia ($69 million), for the collection of household waste — 0.4 billion hryvnia ($15 million), for the delivery of electricity — 3.8 billion hryvnia ($146 million),” it is said in the message of the department.

Rescuing the freezing…

RT’s source in the Ministry for Regional Development, Building and Housing says that this year the administration of three Ukrainian cities intends to disconnect consumers from the system of the central heat supply. The first in turn is the city of Kamensk (the former Dneprodzerzhinsk), and after this — Pavlograd and Novomoskovsk.

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“All inhabitants should establish individual boilers that cost about 8,000 hryvnia ($308). Those who don’t do this will be left without heating or hot water in the winter,” said the city hall of Kamensk to RT. About ten more city administrations are preparing documents for the disconnection of the settlements from the centralised heating system, added the interlocutor of RT.

According to him, the city shifts all its problems onto the population, which has to independently buy boilers and heat their apartments.

“It doesn’t cost the city hall anything, there is no need to invest money in municipal services or introduce energy-saving technologies that will allow consumers to save. Now officials actually destroy all infrastructure and force the population to consume expensive gas at a price that constantly grows because of the devaluation of the hryvnia,” said a source in the Ministry for Regional Development, Building and Housing.

In his opinion, if Ukraine completely fulfils the demands of the IMF and will raise gas prices for the population in 2018 by 70-80%, heating and hot water will remain in only a few apartments.

The next winter will be extremely difficult for most Ukrainians, considers the Director of Institute of Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov.

“The population of Ukraine became impoverished. People who receive the minimum wage and the minimum pension have no opportunity to completely pay the cost of utilities. Respectively, money for these services doesn’t come to private energy companies, and any private trader first of all thinks about their own pocket, and not about the citizens of Ukraine,” summarised Denisov.

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