Concerns of the public were dispelled today at the session of St. Petersburg’s government – public transport fares will not be increased come January 1st. This statement was voiced during a discussion of next year’s projected budget. Administration approved it, while the governor stressed – keeping social obligations is the priority, as it has always been. More on the projected budget and other topics discussed at the session in Mariya Marchenko’s report.
Mariya Marchenko, correspondent: “According to Eduard Batanov, the biggest achievement of the new projected budget is that it would balance between keeping social obligations and development. First and foremost, the money will be spent on healthcare, education, housing utilities and transportation. A record sum of 73 billion rubles will be allocated for construction of new subway lines over the next several years”.
The Frunzenskaya, “green” and “orange” lines will be extended. Work will start on designing the Krasnoselskaya-Kalininskaya line. New subway trains, tramway street-cars and buses will be purchased. At the same time, residents of St. Petersburg will not be paying more for using public means of transport. Fares will stay unchanged in the coming year. 18 new kindergartens, 7 schools and 14 healthcare facilities will be opened. The city authorities will continue re-housing residents of communal apartments and aiding youths in buying housing – financing of these two tasks has been increased. Georgiy Poltavchenko stressed that every ruble must be spent with a purpose.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St.Petersburg: We will only finance those projects, which bring real benefits to the city and its residents. And not just finance them, but finance them with a maximum output – so to speak, every ruble from the city’s budget must be spent with an output, not thrown out of the window”.
The city’s chief treasurer Eduard Batanov made no secrets – the economic situation is complicated. St. Petersburg will spend more than earn. The current budget deficit stands at almost 40 billion rubles. In the beginning it was even worse – 140 billion. A number of projects had to be scrapped.
Eduard Batanov, chairman of the Finance Committee: “We’ve managed to walk between two sharp blades. We had two options – cutting expenditures or going for more loans. We’ve chosen a path in between and picked a soft scenario”.
The capital renovation plan of heating pipes was cut shorter. That’s despite the city having 203 potentially dangerous areas – in Central, Nevsky and Moskovskiy districts. These areas may suffer break-downs in the winter. There are also issues with heating – 18 boiler stations are non-operational. Head of housing utilities committee Valeriy Shiyan reported, though, that 99.9% of city’s houses were ready for the winter. Georgiy Poltavchenko objected that citizens had a different view – according to surveys, 72% of St. Petersburg’s residents complain about cold radiators in their homes. Shiyan blamed the so-called “airlocking of stand-pipes” for this. But what he meant by that didn’t ring any bells with the Governor.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St.Petersburg: “Maybe you should have come prepared for this airlocking? Maybe you should have blown through the heating pipes before turning the heating on?”
There have also been other miscalculations in the public sector. Heads of district administrations reported that there was enough street-cleaners and roofers, but when housing committee looked through employment contracts, it turned out they were wrongfully compiled and in reality there was no one employed. Speaking on fulfilling this year’s budget, Georgiy Poltavchenko reminded that head of every committee will personally report to him on expenditures. A schedule of individual meetings with the Governor will be set up soon. Ineffective managers will not escape with only a conversation, but may face severe action.
Correspondent: Mariya Marchenko
Cameraman: Alexander Skokov