Updated at 00:49,21-11-2017

Lukashenka sets new utility rates

By Alyaksey Alyaksandraw, BelaPAN

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on March 23 signed a presidential edict setting new utility rates for households for 2016.

According to the presidential press office, the edict brings down the prices of six utilities «with a view to reducing the financial burden on the population.»

In particular, the edict decreases the price of water supply from 4,765.9 to 2,790 rubels per cubic meter and the price of sewage disposal from 4,148.8 to 1,863 rubels per cubic meter.

The edict also sets a maximum fee of 9,100 rubels per household for the use of a door entry intercom system.

The edict also changes approaches to the calculation of the prices charged for the maintenance of elevators, the cleaning of lobbies and staircases and the lighting of lobbies and staircases, the press office said. In particular, individuals who rent out apartments will have to pay more for the maintenance of elevators and the cleaning of lobbies and staircases.

In January, the subsidized prices for households jumped by 33.3 percent for heating and hot water, 29.5 percent for electricity and 254 percent for cold water and sewage. The full heating and hot water price was raised by 83.4 percent.

Increasing the cost recovery rates of utilities is one of the conditions for Belarus to obtain a loan from the International Monetary Fund, but the sharp increase in utility prices in January caused a strong negative reaction from the public, which prompted Mr. Lukashenka to order on February 22 that those who failed to meet his utility pricing requirements be «handcuffed and publicly jailed,» and that price calculations be submitted to him by March 1.

It was announced on February 28 that the State Control Committee had instituted 17 criminal cases against utility officials on suspicion of abuse of power.