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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Regions Say Remote Areas Left Cold

State funding for fuel and food supplies to remote northern villages has been better this year than for most years in the past decade, but the 4.2 billion rubles ($152 million) allocated is going to provide the villages little comfort for the winter, regional officials said.

While the supplies are meant to be spent on both fuel and food, most regions have decided to spend their state subsidies only on fuel and make food supplies a second priority.

Government officials were not available to comment.

Yelena Filimonova, head of the financial department of the Komi-Permyak regional administration, said that the 24 million rubles ($866,000) that was transferred from the federal budget this year is only a fraction of the 35.6 million rubles the region needs just for fuel.

She added that funding for food is being provided from the local budget.

"Last year we had the same problem, and it looks as if once again we will have to find our own solution to this, but people will suffer," Filimonova said.

The hardest hit by underfunding are three districts in the Komi-Permyak autonomous region, including forest settlements in the Gainsky area, that are not connected to the national power grid and survive on power from diesel generators.

"We have to buy the fuel from LUKoil, which is very expensive," Filimonova said.

The Irkutsk region says it is lucky to receive all of its state allocation on time, but also complains the funding is insufficient.

Vladimir Parfenov, head of the committee for the northern districts development of the Irkutsk region, said that while his region needs 476 million rubles a year to provide for all the supplies, only 93 million rubles have been allocated this year, which is not enough to pay for fuel for the districts.

To make ends meet, the Irkutsk region took out an interest-free loan of 10 million rubles from the federal budget and used 217.6 million rubles from the local budget, Parfenov said.

"We have said several times that we still need 164.6 million rubles; we appealed to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and the Finance Ministry, but we still do not have this sum," Parfenov said.

There is little time for a solution, because the only access to some regions is by river, and the navigation season will end in one month, Parfenov said.

Viktoria Morozova, chief of the economic department of the administration of Taimyr, or Dolgano-Nenetsky region, said her region obtained less than one-third of what it needed.

The government had allocated only 142 million rubles of 524.2 million rubles that the region needed, she said, adding that only 127 million rubles, or 24 percent of the region’s need, were received. All will be spent on buying petroleum products.

To buy food, municipalities will borrow from some regional funds, but even low-interest loans — one-third of the interest rate will be donated by the local administration — will make foodstuffs more expensive, she said.

"We reported to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and they decided to provide about another 48 million rubles," she said.

This year people will not be affected by the lack of finance, but what we have to do will snowball the debts of local budgets, Morozova said.

"We have received only 51.8 percent of the petroleum products we need," she said.

Northern regions occupy 63 percent of the nation and have only 7 percent of the nation’s population but contribute 35 percent of the gross domestic product, almost 100 percent of raw materials to the domestic market and gives 80 percent of the export receipts, according to Itar-Tass.