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 Additional 160 billion hryvnia required to keep utility rates at present level, Social Policy Minister says

An additional 160 billion hryvnia (about $6.4 billion) would be required from the state budget to keep the rates of utility services at the current level.

Censor.NET reports citing the statement by Minister for Social Policy Andrii Reva.

Reva reminded that targeted social assistance was allocated from the state budget to approximately 1.7 million families enjoying subsidies in order for them to be able to pay for utility services before the tariffs started increasing two years ago. 5.5 million households are enjoying it now while about 9 million recipients of grants-in-aid are expected during cold season. Moreover, the state spent 114 billion hryvnia on direct support of Naftohaz in 2014, when gas prices were regulated.

Read more: Ukraine lacks funds to proceed with low tariffs, - Minister Reva

"How much money was to remain for the increase of social standards? Zero point zero. Therefore the rates were not increased but the salaries and pensions were not as well. For two years. So, if we continue fighting against the rates escalation, not poverty, it will be even greater and more depressing. Therefore, if we are talking about changing the social and economic policies, we need to understand that it is necessary to do it the same way it has been done in Poland and Slovakia. These countries ceased regulating the rates and they increased. However they cannot raise above a certain limit and these states directed all efforts at reducing poverty," the official said.

"And when we are asked to forget about the poverty and start dealing with the rate, I want to reiterate that the current price will include 200 billion hryvnia spent on subvention to Naftohaz. We have allocated 40 billion hryvnia for grants-in-aid. So, we need to find additional 160 billion hryvnia in the budget to enjoy the level of tariffs corresponding to our poverty rate," the Social Policy Minister said.

Read more: Heating and hot water rates for consumers increase twofold starting July 1

"It is impossible to keep rates and increase social standards simultaneously. That is why the government is forced to make a clear political decision: either we decrease the tariffs to the poverty rate or we deregulate them and gradually raise the citizens' living standards to the European level," Reva said.

Earlier, the Cabinet canceled the social gas price and raised the tariff for households up to 6,879 hryvnia (about $275) per thousand cubic meters.Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n397928