“The pitfalls from the monetization of subsidies can be seen from the shore,” says Samopomich deputy Aliona Babak. Once again the government wants to do something good, yet the result is as usual.
To monetize subsidies means to enable consumers to independently pay for housing and communal services without intermediaries in the form of service providers and also possibly save money. The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine has developed a draft decree on the monetization of subsidies and made it public for discussion.
Babak notes, “This is the right step to enforce regulatory legislation. It is worth noting the openness of Minister Andriy Reva himself, who held a discussion of the draft decree with the representatives of condominiums and the deputies at their request.”
But the draft decree on the monetization of subsidies is, in fact, the state lobby of “Oshchadbank” before the elections. The document provides the financial institution with the possibility of making money on some unknown amount of commissions at the expense of all consumers. Also, this is the lobbying of some unknown mobile operator, which will make money from sending text messages to the subsidies. And this is the state lobbying of “Naftogaz”, which is put by the government on the top of the list of subsidies recipients.
And the most surprising thing is the absolute disregard for the rights of consumers, which is concealed behind a seemingly noble idea of sparing consumers the trouble of going to the bank to pay for services.
The government suggests the following system.
First, Oshchadbank opens accounts for all consumers-recipients of subsidies. Then the state transfers to Oshchadbank the amount of assigned subsidies for the month. All condominiums and service providers submit to the “Oshchadbank” the registries of their recipients of subsidies with the full amount of invoices issued for a month. Then Oshchadbank transfers payments from the available funds to service providers and condominiums in the following order – first, Naftogaz, then heat producers, then electricity services, then water utilities, then manager and condominiums.
As for those services for which subsidies were not enough, Oshchadbank sends a text message to the consumer, where it indicates how much and for what service the consumer has to pay. And if with such a system, the consumer manages to save money during the heating season, then Oshchadbank will transfer the remaining funds to the consumer’s personal accounts.
Aliona Babak explains, “Everything seems to be fine and seems like Oshchadbank will be paying for the services of the subsidies receivers. But it turns out that gas, electricity, heat supplying companies, water utilities – that is, monopolists – will be able to charge as much as they want, and Oshchadbank will take their requirement for granted and will send any funds to their accounts. And if a consumer has a dispute with the service provider about some extra charges or if the service was rendered not in full or of poor quality, then nobody will care about this.”
This decree cannot be adopted in the version proposed by the government. Condominiums also strongly oppose it. After all, condominiums are the last in the “queue” for subsidies.
Aliona Babak urges to act against the monopoly of the state and for the right of consumers to know what they pay for. The Samopomich deputy has sent the corresponding letter with this appeal to Stepan Kubiv, First Deputy Prime Minister of Economic Development and Trade, who chairs the working group on the monetization of subsidies.