The Lugansk region is where to introduce experimental reforms in the public housing and utility sector first, Victor Yushchenko said at a meeting with the region’s officials, president's press office reported.

The President called on the local authorities and residents to formulate a plan of such reforms. He said last year’s heating breakdown in Alchevsk demonstrated there were enough people in the region that could act and resolve problems in emergencies.

Yushchenko said all our housing problems were caused by the imperfect Soviet model of management, not by insufficient funding. He believes the lack of competition in the sector results in low quality of the services. He added that the government should help those who cannot afford to pay for utilities.

The officials also spoke about social and economic results of 2006 and plans for 2007.

The President insisted that they must profoundly reform the local coal industry and promised to tackle the issue during one of his future visits to Lugansk.

Yushchenko urged the local authorities to promote healthcare in the region, whose health infrastructure is among the worst in the country, which contributes to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and heart disease.

The President reiterated his intention to change the Constitution. He also said it was necessary for Ukraine to introduce administrative reform, create a transparent land market and eventually become a WTO member.


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