Russians owe $13 Billion for Housing and Utility Services

Russians owe $13 Billion for Housing and Utility Services

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Russians underpaid 804.5 billion rubles ($13.11 bln) for housing and utilities services in the first quarter of this year. The increase compared to the previous year during the same period amounted to 56.6 billion rubles ($922.18 mln), which is 7.6% more. At the same time, as Kommersant reports, this increase in arrears became record-breaking.

According to Rosstat, debts to resource supplying organizations increased by 11% and to management companies by 3%. According to experts, an increase in the level of digitalization will be able to reduce the number of debtors among citizens by a third. This, in turn, will reduce the total debt for the provision of utilities by 180 billion rubles ($2.93 bln.)

In 2021, as noted by the media, there was a decrease in the debt of citizens to the managing companies by almost 6% compared to 2020. Recall that a moratorium was declared during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, no penalty was charged for non-payment, and last year this was abolished.

In 2022, the growth of debts began to gain momentum again. According to Pavel Sklyanchuk, an expert of the Housing and Urban Environment thematic platform of the ONF, such a rapid increase in debt this year can be partly explained by the rise in prices of services and goods, while wages at this time “most often are not indexed.” Izvestia reports that Tatiana Vepretskaya, head of the National Housing Congress, agrees with him. She points out that the cost of utilities is increasing while the income of Russians is not taken into account.

This factor, according to Irina Bulgakova, head of the Commission on Housing and Communal Services of the Public Council under the Ministry of Construction, leads to the fact that low-income families are unable to pay for housing and utility services. She also stressed that the six-month moratorium on bankruptcy, introduced in April, which provides for limitation of procedures for debt forgiveness, also had an impact on the growth of debts. At the same time, Bulgakova underlined that even in the case of a favorable court decision on the collection of debts from non-payers financial institutions do not write off these funds.

As reported by Lenta.ru, in July, the Unified Federal Register of bankruptcy information (Fedresurs) specified, that the number of Russians who started the simplified bankruptcy procedure was a record. If we compare the data for the first quarter of this year with the previous period, the number of approved applications for such a right has increased by almost 29%.

The largest generating companies, including Quadra, Inter RAO, Gazpromenergoholding, T Plus, Eurosibenergo and SGK, sent a letter as early as July 14 to Mikhail Mishustin, chairman of the Russian government, saying that the crisis of non-payment for utilities could have a negative impact on the preparation of enterprises for the heating season. As Izvestia informs, the letter of the business actors that now the companies receive less money and they have to get ready for winter time. Given the circumstances, entrepreneurs ask the government for an early cancellation of the moratorium in its appeal.

According to Ilya Dolmatov, head of the Institute for Economics and Regulation of Infrastructural Industries at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, the moratorium on bankruptcy was an exceptional temporary measure at a time when numerous anti-Russian sanctions were imposed. The situation is now stabilized. Dolmatov believes that the issue of lifting the bankruptcy moratorium is relevant at the moment. Especially since the government has taken measures to support economic sectors.

According to media reports, the Ministry of Energy, in turn, clarified that preparations for the heating season are going on as usual. Meanwhile, representatives of the business community do not agree with this statement. The Association of Guaranteed Suppliers and Power Supply Companies, as reported by Izvestia, cited data showing that electricity debtors have been sued for almost 35 billion rubles ($570.26 mln.) In the second quarter, they were able to collect up to 3 billion rubles ($48.9 mln,) which is 16% less than last year.

Earlier, Irek Faizullin, the head of the Ministry of Construction, provided data on debts for housing and utility services over the last two years, which, according to him, have increased by 15% in total and amount to almost 1.5 trillion rubles ($24.44 bln.)

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