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    FRADKOV INSTRUCTS CABINET TO WORK TO CUT HOUSING PRICES

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    MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has instructed the government to analyze what problems are hampering the affordable housing market development and what measures need to be taken to change this situation.

    "Prices on the housing market remain extremely high," the prime minister said on Thursday at a cabinet session highlighting the housing construction in the country.

    Fradkov stated that high prices stood in the way of the affordable housing market.

    He said that a working group including representatives of the government, the presidential administration and deputies had worked out a package of draft laws on the housing construction.

    The prime minister asserted that the state remained responsible for providing low-income families and other categories of citizens with housing. He recalled that the state still owed the military. Besides, people who worked in the polar areas still have housing problems as well as those who were hit by radiation catastrophes and refugees.

    However, Fradkov said the main task facing the authorities was to give citizens the opportunity of purchasing housing for themselves. In his words, mortgages are the most affordable form. This mechanism, however, is insufficiently developed today to become a real instrument, the premier said. At the same time, he remarked that the mortgage system had been launched in some regions.

    Fradkov also said that the increasing solvent demand of the population should be supported by a relevant amount of housing. In his words, the amount of commissioned housing has been increasing since 2001. At the same time, it has not yet reached the pre-reform level, said the prime minister.

    The problem of old housing is still acute.

    The prime minister hailed the increase in individual housing construction, which already makes 30% of the entire housing construction. This testifies that the population is ready to invest in housing, said Fradkov.

    "Everybody is demonstrating willingness to have their own house, an apartment and normal living conditions," said the prime minister.

    He remarked that the Russian president and the government received plenty of requests from citizens every day, asking to improve their living conditions, which signifies that the housing problem yet has to be addressed.

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