Economists did not rule out that this money will be found in the NWF
Consumers owe more than a trillion rubles for housing services. Dmitry Ionin, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Energy, believes that the state itself will have to pay off the housing and communal services enterprises for the debts of Russians. We tried to predict how the authorities will act – they will knock out every last penny from the tenants or use the funds of the government “money-box” in the person of the National Welfare Fund.
“This issue (the debts of Russians to resource workers. – MK ) will have to be taken over by the government. Including uncorking the reserve fund in order to carry out settlements with housing and communal services enterprises and extinguish shortfalls in income. The purchasing power today is such that, God forbid, the majority would have enough money for food and medicine. Housing and communal services in this respect is not a priority for the authorities, ”Ionin said.
The situation with people’s indebtedness for housing and communal services is indeed almost dead-end. It is 1.33 trillion rubles. (this is the total debt of the population and organizations). The main reason for the buildup of debts is the almost continuous decline in real disposable income of the population since 2014. According to Rosstat calculations, this indicator of income decreased in the first quarter of 2021 – by 3.6% on an annualized basis. This drastically reduces the ability of households to pay for “communal”, since many consumers simply do not have enough money for food.
The proposal to pay off such communal debts of citizens at the expense of the state is very unexpected, since it goes against the usual practice. Traditionally, our state does not compensate for the personal debt of people, especially before state organizations.
Hypothetically, from the point of view of the availability of funds, it is possible to do this, says Mark Goykhman, chief analyst at TeleTrade. No, not at the expense of the current budget. According to the expert, the federal budget is already barely making ends meet. And the regional ones for the most part remain extremely scarce and scarce. It is unlikely that it will be possible to take additional money from the people who use utility services themselves – all because of the same limited income. Raising tariffs in addition to the existing changes is also not possible: this increase is legally limited by the amount of inflation. However, the State Duma said that the state will need to use the funds of the reserve fund to pay off debts on housing and communal services.
“Probably, we can talk about the National Welfare Fund (NWF),” says Goikhman. – Its size as of July 1, 2021 amounted to almost 13.6 trillion rubles, according to the Ministry of Finance of Russia. ” It is not difficult to calculate that only a tenth of it would be enough to cover all debts to public utilities.
The share of the NWF to GDP reaches 11.7%. This is important, since the expenditure of the Fund’s resources is possible when this share exceeds the 7% level.
However, this “pod” is almost inviolable: it remained virtually unopened even during the most acute period of the pandemic in 2020. “It is difficult to assume that it will be sent to write off people’s debts,” the analyst emphasizes.
However, there is another opinion on this score. The state will be forced to provide targeted subsidies from budget money to enterprises that have supplied housing services, but did not receive timely payment so that they can continue their activities and carry out repairs and modernization, said Natalya Chernysheva, director of the organization of people’s control. In her opinion, most likely, it really should be money from the NWF, since “a rainy day has already arrived, and for a long time.”
“You can only conclude agreements on debt restructuring with residents. It is unacceptable to knock them out with the help of collectors, and in order to disable services, certain notification procedures must be followed. Even so, blackouts are barbaric methods of dealing with debt. Most likely, some debts will simply have to be written off by households, under certain criteria, for example, if there are children or a proven drop in income, ”our interlocutor believes.
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