Policy ideas for the reform of HUS

What kind of ideas informed policy-making in the HUS area? To answer this question, I will start with the views shared by the members of the housing policy network, and then continue with the ideas held by the policy outsiders (see Table 5.2 for the summary).

The following review of ideas demonstrates that a general consensus existed among the actors involved in the Russian housing policy

Table 5.2 Policy ideas for the reform of Russian housing and utility sector (paradigms, instruments and settings)

Groups of Actors

Paradigm

Instruments

Settings

Gosstroy

and

external

advisors

(policy

network)

Liberal market operation of Russian Housing and Utilities Sphere

  • - privatisation of state utility enterprises
  • - rents and utility price deregulation
  • - system of direct housing subsidies for low-income families
  • - housing condominiums
  • - a system of 'customer services'
  • - a system of housing inspections and housing Codes
  • - instruments for greater resource and energy efficiency
  • - support for alternative instruments of tariff regulation by a group of policy specialists among the 'policy network'
  • - an income threshold for the eligibility for budget housing assistance
  • - settings for the organisation of housing condominiums and customer services
  • - use of HUS metering equipment; introduction of innovative technical methods and processes in the HUS service production

Policy

outsiders

Market paradigm of HUS operation

  • - support for the instruments above
  • - but support for tariff regulation as a means of anti-monopoly regulation in the HUS sphere
  • - lower threshold for social housing assistance
  • - other instrument settings developed with a greater use of diverse international policy experience

sub-system about the liberal objectives of HUS reform and about most of the policy measures, which should be applied. In other words, the majority of the specialists shared the liberal policy paradigm and supported a largely similar set of its instruments. The disagreement that existed among them mainly related to the level of policy settings. Policy outsiders advocated greater levels of social protection for the poor and a greater degree of state involvement in the HUS operations than were envisaged by the specialists within the government policy network.

There was also one specific instance of disagreement over the use of two interchangeable policy instruments: tariff regulation vs. customer service. This chapter will discuss that the initial inclusion of the instrument of customer service in policy was, on the one hand, due to the institutional position of its advocates at the heart of the housing policy network, while on the other hand, it was motivated by the incompatibility of the instrument of tariff regulation with the radical market reform agenda shared by the policy-makers in the early 1990s. However, in more recent times, the learning process has influenced these policymakers. It pushed them to reconsider their earlier policy preferences and include tariff regulation in policy.

 
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