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    HOUSING REFORM TO BE A PRIORITY OF NEW GOVERNMENT

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    MOSCOW, March 5, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The new Russian government will assign priority to the reform of the housing and communal sector, new Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said today at the Duma session.

    He emphasized that so far the reform of this sector had been restricted to the increase in communal tariffs.

    "The arguments that the communal payments fail to cover communal enterprises' expenditures hold no water," said Mr. Fradkov.

    In his words, only competition can determine the objective cost of the housing and communal services. "We should give a real opportunity to choose the [communal] services provider and abolish the monopoly in the housing and communal sector," said the new prime minister.

    In this connection, he emphasized that a lot would depend on who would be in charge of the sector's reform. "We should choose a responsible and conscientious person, who is interested and compassionate in regard to people, and who could attain the set targets," said the new Russian prime minister.

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