(Business New Europe – bne.com – February 5, 2013)
After dubbing it the most corrupt sector in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved again to crack down on graft in the utilities sector by calling for public oversight of the sector.
Public councils are to be set up to oversee the sector and Putin said this will be done in cooperation with the opposition.
Utilities are a top three gripes with the current government, according to recent polls and the service is bad enough that protestors marched in December to highlight the issue. Indeed, the massive corruption surrounding the provision of power, heating and maintenance of apartment blocks is one of the very few issues that could unite the otherwise fragmented opposition as these are problems that nearly everyone in the country shares. De facto opposition leader Alexei Navalny has already demanded the same thing.
The public councils will “monitor tariffs inthe regions andcontrol thework ofapartment service companies,” Putin said according to reports during agovernment meeting inSochi oneconomic issues inthe housing sector.
The Navalny effort, called RosZhKKh, encourages people to send complaints about the poor work of utilities providers toa website, which alerts the proper authorities. Several of these websites have already been established and mirror similar sites in the west that have proven to be both effective and indeed, a boon to authorities as they provide efficient monitoring of housing and utility problems.