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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Privatizing Too Slowly, Government Says

Moscow is lagging behind the rest of Russia in its preparations to sell off state-owned property to the public, a spokesman for the Russian government's privatization agency said Wednesday.

Only 350, 000 out of more than 9 million Muscovites have received privatization vouchers since distribution began Oct. 1, Vyacheslav Maksimovsky, a spokesman for the State Property Committee, told The Moscow Times.

If distribution continued at that rate, it would take well over 12 months to issue the 10, 000-ruble vouchers. The vouchers are only valid for a year beginning Jan. 1 1993.

Theoretically, every Russian citizen is to receive his voucher by the end of 1992 under the rules of the privatization program, laid out in a decree by President Boris Yeltsin.

Figures reported by Russian television show that only a few of the Moscow enterprises slated for privatization are yet ready to offer shares for sale to voucher holders, even if they were being distributed quickly.

According to the news program Vesti, only 250 of over 1, 600 Moscow factories participating in the privatization program made Wednesday's deadline, which was set by the Russian government.

"The State Property Committee has expressed its dissatisfaction at the work of the Moscow branch", said Maksimovsky. "Moscow is moving much slower than the rest of Russia".

He said that throughout Russia, vouchers were being distributed "at the speed we expected".

Maksimovsky attributed the slow tempo in Moscow to a "lack of information".

"I live in Moscow, and I don't know where to go", he said. "I have to wait until I get a card in the mail or until they hang a sign outside telling me which bank to go to".

But a Moscow privatization official dismissed the charge that his office was moving too slowly.

"No one is hurrying to pick up their voucher", said Yury Kolenchenko, of the Communal Property Office.

Kolenchenko said that people were waiting to see what would ultimately be available to acquire for their vouchers, referring to proposed legislation that would allow citizens to use them to purchase land and municipal property.

But he expressed concern at the small number of state-owned enterprises in the capital that met the deadline for becoming joint-stock societies.

The deadline was originally Oct. 1, but was extended by two weeks when local officials realized that few firms would be on time.

Many economists and industrialists have said the Russian government put together its privatization program too quickly, failed to publicize it properly, and made the deadlines too tight.

Responding to those arguments, the Russian parliament recently passed a resolution asking the president to extend the validity of vouchers to the end of 1993.