Aliona Babak: Energy and ecology also mean national security, of which the President has forgotten. So we have to remind him about them

Chasing higher ratings, Petro Poroshenko has forgotten that he is still the President and therefore is in charge of the national security. The law states that national security encompasses energy, environmental and critical infrastructure safety. They are all under threat now.

Today, state mines are disconnected from power supply. Any day now the “Water of Donbas” communal enterprise, which serves 289 settlements and provides sewage services to consumers in 79 cities and towns of the Donetsk region, is going to be disconnected as well. The Aulsk water utility, which serves the Dnipropetrovsk region, is гnder the threat of disconnection as well. There are several other water utilities expecting the same scenario.

“Water of Donbas” is a unique enterprise which is a hostage to the war today. The enterprise has its facilities located both in the territory controlled by Ukraine and in the occupied one. This is the only engineering complex that supplies water to the low-water Donbas region. Consumers in the occupied territories do not reimburse the economically justified costs of the enterprise. This is a fact about which the authorities are trying to keep mum and pretend that the problem of debts for electricity used for preparing and supplying water to the occupied territories will somehow “resolve”.

But the debts are not going to disappear. Another problem is state mines. They are unprofitable and there are no funds from the budget for reimbursement of these losses in full. In the course of all the years of independence and over the last five years, the government has not managed to adopt a program aimed at jump-starting the mining regions in which coal mining is unprofitable. Projects like the conversion of unprofitable state mines into job-creating facilities in mining towns. Closing the mines without offering a job is a shame for Ukraine, since all countries (Germany, Canada, Spain, Chile, the UK, the USA and others) have gone through the conversion and have successful results, while we simply want to leave people without work and without salaries.

The reform of the electricity market, which began on January 1, 2019, exposed the problem of the constant non-payment of electricity debts of state-owned mines and such important enterprises as “Water of Donbas”. By January, all these debts had been accumulating at the State Enterprise “Energorynok”. It took loans for settlements with generating companies and still had huge problems, because it had to pay for the generation, so a solution was found – Rotterdam Plus. According to the National Commission for State Regulation in Energy and Utilities, the electricity debt of “Water of Donbas” exceeds 2 billion UAH to date.

Due to the law, from January 1 all these problem enterprises could not find suppliers for themselves. Who wants to work with bad debtors? Accordingly, they came to the “supplier of last hope”. The government has appointed State Enterprise “Ukrinterenergo” as such a supplier. Until recently, it was a profitable state-owned enterprise, but in the course of 90 days of fulfilling the duties of the “supplier of last hope”, it took on a three-month debt of “Water of Donbas”, state mines and many other state-owned, mostly unprofitable, enterprises.

The electricity market law requires the government to determine compensation for the enterprise for the losses connected with performing the role of the “last hope supplier”. But the government did not do this. In accordance with the requirements of the law, “Ukrinterenergo” must disconnect debtors or else it will become another state hopeless debtor itself.

And it is the President who is personally responsible for the fact that the Donbas and the Dnipropetrovsk region will be left without water, and the critical infrastructure enterprises – the mines – will remain chronic bankrupts, while the miners will have no economic and social guarantees of protection from the state.

We need to convene a meeting of the National Security and Defence Council as soon as possible and demand from the government to determine the mechanism for compensating losses of the state enterprise “Ukrinterenergo” as provided by law. As for “Water of Donbas”, the National Security and Defence Council has to decide on a transparent mechanism of setting prices for water and sewage treatment and on the procedure for compensating losses from water supplies to the territory of Donbas uncontrolled by the Ukrainian government.

How come the President and the government do not inform our citizens in the temporarily occupied territories through all possible media that the drinking water supply artery of Donbas unites us, that three workers of the “Water of Donbas” were killed because of shelling while working at the water supply facilities that provide everyone with drinking water?

That Ukraine is covering losses from the supply of water to uncontrolled territory? That Minsk agreements do not solve these issues?

All that the government is trying to do now looks like unsystematic short-sighted decisions. The government is turning a blind eye to the problem, pretending that the “Water of Donbas” will somehow miraculously solve its problems amidst the wartime.

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