It has been a lot said about the necessity to reform Russia's natural monopolies. This question has been discussed by governmental officials, State Duma deputies, economists, and journalists for several years already. There has been no progress in this field, and things are the same as when the talk started.
One should compare the subject of reforms (how good is it to reform the Russian Railway Ministry, Gazprom, or RAO-UES of Russia) and what Russian citizens will gain (or will they gain anything) from it. The conclusion is not optimistic: monopolies will be solving their problems at the expense of common consumers.
For example, today, the government was considering the issue of Russia’s strategy. After the session was over, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov “caused the joy” of the Russian people, having announced the perspectives of development in the field. Therefore, the state will maintain control over gas prices only for strategic consumers: the military and medical and educational institutions. Other consumers will have to buy gas at prices that are to be determined by the supply and demand of the free market. Yusufov promised that the government would do its best in order to raise the level of competition in the energy field. As is supposed, there will be energy exchanges set up, coal and oil exchanges, which will provide fair prices on these kinds of fuel.
However, manufacturing companies should have free access to new markets and other regions first. After that, as the authors of the strategy believe, “only the economy will determine if it is good for the companies or not and where they should work and how.” However, the minister did not say how this is going to be accomplished, as if they do not know in the government that it is not only the economy that determines such things. This does not mean that exchanges will appear tomorrow. These dates will be known only in autumn, when the government considers the final variant of Russia’s energy strategy until the year 2020.
There is no doubt that the consumer will have to pay more for gas. There is no economic branch in Russia yet where competition would be good for citizens. So, why make oil and gas industry an exception? There is a lot of oil in the country, but gasoline is becoming more expensive.
The price of tickets for Moscow trains will increase as well, by 18.5%. The new prices will be in effect in the Moscow region after June 10. Russians are used to the fact that prices are increasing constantly. If there is any stability in Russia, then it is the stable growth of prices. Maybe this is good for the economy, but it is surely very bad for the Russian people's nerves.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969