Minus 30 percent: quarantine and coronavirus have breached the housing and communal services economy
The collection of utility bills decreased by 30% in Russia during the epidemic. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to pay for utilities. The government helped as best it could: ordered the deferred fees to be deferred until the end of the year (but they will be recovered afterwards).
Resource-supplying organizations responded unprecedentedly: "No money - no repair".
On April 2, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed Decree No. 424, according to which suppliers are not entitled to collect fines and penalties for late payments from housing and communal services from residents, management companies and housing cooperatives until January 2021. The document also suspends the right of suppliers to sanction incomplete services.
Earlier, the Prime Minister noted that the coronavirus epidemic hit hard on the wallet of citizens, and the government considers it its duty to smooth out the negative consequences.
We repeat that utility payments themselves are not canceled by anyone, we are only talking about a six-month moratorium on penalties for late payment.
On April 3, the day after the issuance of Mishustin’s decree, the Council of Energy Producers and the Association of Guaranteed Suppliers and Energy Sales Companies asked the head of the Ministry of Energy, Aleksandr Novak, to abandon the complete abolition of penalties and switch to targeted assistance, warning about the possible disruption of summer repair campaigns and preparations for heating season 2021.
Similar letters were sent to the Prime Minister by the largest players in the Russian market - Gazprom Energoholding LLC, Inter RAO PJSC, Siberian Generating Company LLC, T Plus PJSC and Quadra PJSC.
Market participants announced cash gaps of hundreds of billions of rubles and trillions of consumer debt accumulated in the industry. “The financial sustainability of energy organizations without symmetrical support measures has been called into question.” Summer repair campaigns and winter preparations are at stake, they warned.
But what are overdue penalties in monetary terms? Take, for example, a two-room apartment not in the center of Moscow with the presence of 4 family members registered in it. With an average monthly payment of 6,000 rubles, a family that has not paid for utilities since April 2020, by January 2021, therefore, in addition to the main body of the debt of 54,000 rubles, an additional 2.147.55 rubles in penalties will be due (approximate calculations made using the calculator on the platform of the community of lawyers Contract-Lawyer.ru). These 2.147.55 rubles, in fact, the Russian government and allows not to pay a conditional family until January 2021.
Will a penny shortage on delayed penalties really lead to a collapse with resources in the energy superpower?
- Preliminarily - at the end of April, the total debt of all consumers to the T Plus company amounted to 85.3 billion rubles (of which almost 59 billion rubles were for heat). The beginning of the month was shocking - in the first decade, payments dipped by half, but then the situation leveled off. Compared to April last year, collectability decreased by 20% - for heat and 2% - for electrics. In total, we did not receive about 3 billion rubles — this, of course, will affect our work, - the press service of one of the largest electricity and heat suppliers of T Plus PJSC told Novye Izvestia.
As a result, the organization has already announced reductions in the volume of repair work:
- 15% of the revenue means that somewhere we will not be able to carry out modernization. Our production process is continuous, the volumes, if they are decreasing, are insignificant - therefore, we cannot save personnel on fuel, let alone salaries. So far, there have been no decisions regarding these subsidies, but we are looking forward to them - otherwise, preparations for the winter may be in jeopardy. We will carry out the repair campaign completely, but investments in modernization, in development in some part may need to be postponed to the next years, - comment on T Plus PJSC.
No less important is the question of the structure of debts to resource-supplying organizations.
Despite a sharp reduction or even loss of citizens' incomes, far more indiscipline in settlements with suppliers is shown not by homeowners and homeowners, but by management companies. The collection from them is three times worse than from citizens.
- The largest amount of debts was accumulated by organizations serving the housing stock and the population (almost 69% of the total amount). The decrease in heat of payment in the category of “population on direct settlements” amounted to 11.2%. And in the category “Criminal Code, Homeowners Association, Housing Companies”, which also receives funds from the population - 29.3%. That is, these reseller consumers actually solve their problems by increasing the receivables, the supplier said.
Residents of megalopolises and large cities are still trying to pay for all utility services, but in small towns, fees are reduced from month to month, to sum up the energy sector. The worst collection of payments since April is recorded in Saratov, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Izhevsk, Ulyanovsk, they dipped by 20-25%.
In the donor regions, the reduction in collection directly reflects the economy: people with a salary of 15-18 thousand rubles can no longer spend on utilities up to 50% of their income with such unclear prospects for the future.
Coronavirus negatively affected the collection of utility bills in Siberian regions, the situation is aggravated by the fact that work in these entities must be carried out in a short summer. The collection of payments for electricity and heat in total decreased by 22% in April, TASS was told in the press service of Siberian Generating Company LLC (SGK), which operates in Altai, Krasnoyarsk Territories, Kemerovo and Novosibirsk Regions, Khakassia and Tuva.
The low collection rate for housing services has already adjusted plans for the modernization of the networks and common property of apartment buildings. A winter without light and heat will require an emergency announcement, so it won’t come to that, but everything else will cut costs.
It is unlikely that they will be able to avoid further growth in non-payments. Clients of resource-supplying organizations faced a sharp drop in income, and the situation will not quickly recover even after the end of the epidemic in Russia. Suppliers can try to get out of the situation by raising tariffs, said a public figure, director of the Organization of Public Control ANO Natalya Chernysheva:
- Resource-supplying organizations report a reduction in payments of 70% -90%. Even if they try to make the situation more dramatic, payments in any case will decrease by at least two times, in proportion to the growth of unemployment.
It will be difficult to reduce the quality and quantity of services significantly, since suppliers cannot set neglected standards by the state. If the resource people are not able to rectify their distress through subsidies, then tariff growth cannot be avoided. In this regard, the question of a planned increase in tariffs from July 1, 2020 is now very acute for everyone. On the one hand, a crisis is really brewing in the housing and utilities sector, and there is no way to survive without support. On the other hand, an increased amount in payments in a situation where a huge number of people no longer have the funds for the most necessary, can provoke an even greater outflow in collection, people can simply stop paying. Subsidies are needed not only for resource providers, but also for citizens - and not only for beneficiaries, but for everyone. Minus 50% of the payment motivates paying at least out of gratitude. People, it should be noted, praised the temporary abolition of contributions for overhaul, and many were encouraged to pay bills, despite the original intention to postpone payment, the expert notes.
According to the report of the Ministry of Construction of Russia, the amount of debt in housing and communal services at the beginning of 2020 amounted to 1.3 trillion rubles. Of these, management companies, homeowners associations and the population owe 810 billion rubles, state-owned organizations 60 billion rubles and other consumers more than 400 billion rubles. At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defense remains one of the largest debtors among state employees (10, 645 billion as of April 1, 2020).
The authorities of the regions in the current situation are counting on help from the federal center. So far, only the Chelyabinsk region has become an exception, the governor of which Alexey Teksler ordered to allocate 1 billion from the regional budget for sanitation of the entrances of apartment buildings, payments of enterprises for fuel and energy resources and urgent work to prepare for the heating season.
The government, in turn, has not yet announced subsidies to regions and citizens. The authorities plan to correct the worsened payment discipline first of all at the expense of budget organizations. After complaints from generating companies, the Ministry of Energy was instructed to bring the collection of payments from state employees to 100%. Analysts believe that these measures are not enough. Public sector consumers in Russia today account for only 10% of total energy supplies.