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Gilfin: conscious consumption with a Far Eastern specificity

Improving the financial literacy of the inhabitants of the Far Eastern Federal District discussed at the Eastern Economic Forum

Thanks to the Project, the Far Eastern Housing Fund, in the framework of the joint project of the Russian Federation and the IBRD “Promoting Improving the Level of Financial Literacy of the Population and Development of Financial Education in the Russian Federation”, designed to shoe consumers of housing and communal services in matters of financial literacy, held an in-person event in the Far East. A session on this important topic was held as part of the WEF-2019.

Gilfin: conscious consumption with a Far Eastern specificity
Special project Financial literacy
The Far East is on the path of advancing socio-economic development. However, beyond the framework of this movement there remains such an important aspect of life as financial literacy in housing and communal services, purchase and rental of housing. A peripheral region with a low population density is at risk of all kinds of fraud. The abuses that residents of central Russia have already learned to fight are still relevant here. In order to disseminate the experience of the western regions among the Far East, the Zhilfin project will hold a number of events in the region, train consultants and disseminate a set of teaching materials to help consumers navigate the rapidly changing housing conditions.

Risk-free mortgage
The project Zhilfin was launched in 2016 as part of the program of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation to improve financial literacy and protect the rights of consumers of financial services. Sverdlovsk, Kurgan and Voronezh regions became the base regions, the first events were held in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan and Volgograd. A sociological study was carried out, which revealed the problems of consumers of housing and communal services, their specifics in each region. When replicating experience in the Far Eastern region, experts will also rely on local characteristics, including low population density, remoteness from the federal center, and high cost of utilities and housing.

As the chief economist of Expert RA Anton Tabakh noted during the session, the issues of purchase and sale, rental housing, payment of payments are related to all Russians, but for the Far East they are especially significant, because the region has the most expensive utilities. In the structure of expenses, they occupy a significant part, so it is important to understand what the consumer pays for.

The cost of utilities per month per person in the Far Eastern Federal District is almost twice the average for Russia. The price per square meter of an average quality apartment is more than 30% higher than the national average. The share of dilapidated housing in the housing stock is 4% - this is twice the average Russian level.  

To date, the Zhilfin project has developed a set of information and analytical materials for the population. They cover various topics and problems in the housing sector. For example, the booklet “Protection of the ownership rights of minors and the legally incompetent”, “Memo for a real estate buyer”, “Mortgage lending”, “Far Eastern hectare”, brochures “Your payment”, “Rental of residential real estate”, “Residential property management”, “Housing rights and responsibilities. ”

As noted by the project curators, the teaching materials are interesting in that they present cases, for example, how to change the form of managing an apartment building or a management company.

- If abroad, mortgage problems are in first place in matters of housing literacy, then utility payments and rental housing are leading in Russia. In view of the historical circumstances, there is more housing in the property, but there are also many problems with its maintenance. There is ownership, no income. On the other hand, there is a great penetration of mortgages, but many problems in this area are associated with rising prices, ”said Anton Tabakh.

The population is interested in financial education. Indeed, according to official figures, housing and communal services debt in Russia is growing faster than loans, and an unsuccessful deal with a developer can lead to a financial disaster affecting several generations of a family. Methodological materials for consultants affect in particular the subtleties of mortgages, clarifications are provided on what is included in the total cost of the loan.

- We looked at a lot of cases. For example, a pseudo mortgage, when under the guise of a loan, consumers sign a contract secured by real estate. As a result, it turns out that this is not a loan, but a loan that is not regulated at all. There are many such criminal cases. There have been cases up to the point where microfinance organizations impersonated Sberbank's branch using the standard form of employees and the colors of the office design. In cases with a mortgage, it is better to contact a lawyer in advance who will check all the nuances of the transaction, because the price of the issue is high.

At the same time, experts revealed a rather high level of financial literacy of the population of the Far East, among which there is a request for more in-depth, profiled knowledge.

“The leaders in financial literacy are Primorye and the Magadan Region, and the lowest level of knowledge is in Buryatia and Transbaikalia,” said Anastasia Podrugina, head of the ANSEP Center analytical group.

Reasonable consumption
According to Oleg Buklemishev, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics of Moscow State University, the Zhilfin project is important and timely, especially for Primorye, where a paradoxical picture is emerging: the population is decreasing, and housing is becoming more expensive. However, as in the entire Far Eastern region.

- The growth in the cost of apartments in the primary market is ahead of the all-Russian indicator. A person thinking about purchasing his own housing should understand what is happening in this market in order to make the right decision. It is also important to increase the literacy of the population in housing and communal services. I myself have repeatedly had to explain to people that they can use the benefits for large families, doctors of sciences and other categories of citizens. Everyone needs this knowledge to reduce their bills, ”he said.

The experience of her region, where work to improve financial literacy has already borne fruit, was shared by Olga Arintseva, Chairperson of the Kaliningrad Oblast Public Chamber.

- The President of the country set the task to involve 30% of the population in instruments of direct participation in the management of territories by the 2024 year. At our place, we came to train tutors, and they, in turn, teach neighbors and friends. Those who have passed the training have already begun to receive grants, small explanatory projects have appeared. Independent thoughts about how to manage your territory are born from these cells of financial literacy. Thus, we are moving out of the familiar abbreviation “Housing and Utilities” into a more voluminous phenomenon, where the role of the entire non-profit sector is becoming more significant than could be expected only recently, ”she said.

Zhilfin's materials are popular among the population of the region. They are sought, distributed by the inhabitants themselves. An educational and methodological complex has also been developed devoted to financial decisions on housing and communal services in the family budget. It also does not give a dry theory, but cases and their solutions.

In addition, a newspaper is published in Kaliningrad devoted to the problems of housing and communal services, a comfortable urban environment and improving the financial literacy of the population in these matters.

- Representatives of management companies tried many times to write honestly about themselves in the existing press, but this did not produce results. Therefore, they organized the publication of the newspaper by joint efforts. Now its circulation is 10 thousand copies. The publication was in demand, and it was the paper version. It has become an education authority in our region.

According to the social activist, it was in the Kaliningrad Region that the very first energy-efficient overhaul of an apartment building was made. Consumers were puzzled that from the limited budget more was left for the maintenance of the house and less for the payment of expendable resources. Moreover, such concepts as the consumption of conditionally constant and conditionally variable resources appeared here. The first include those that are spent on heating, sanitation, etc. The second belong to the "cultural." For example, if you install a faucet with a motion sensor in the sink, brushing your teeth will be much more economical.

So, the case, begun in the Kaliningrad region and supported by Zhilfin, turned out to be beneficial to all parties - both the owners of MKD and management organizations.

Science of well-being
Mariya Aralova, the head of the consumer protection department of the territorial body of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance in Surveillance of the Russian Federation, spoke about housing problems faced by residents of Primorye. They account for one third of the total volume of complaints, and mainly they relate to the quality of the services provided, the work of the capital repair fund. At the same time, in Primorye there is a targeted program to protect consumer rights, the financing of which is not provided, and therefore there is no social advertising either. There is also a school for the management house, but by and large this is not enough to systematically increase the financial literacy of the population.

- Therefore, the work on education will be in demand here. For our part, we will support it so that consumption, including in the housing and utilities sector, becomes more conscious, ”she said.

The issue of financial education among students was raised by the teacher of the School of Economics and Management of the FEFU Lyudmila Vasyukova. This year, the university team won the All-Russian Olympiad in financial literacy. At the same time, problems remain with the construction of educational programs and their integration into the educational process of students of non-economic specialties. Until this year, they were not covered. Almost all the teachers of the School of Economics and Management took an additional professional education course in building financial literacy courses for non-economic specialties.

“This year I am starting to teach a course in personal finance management for students of non-economic specialties, where financial literacy in housing and communal services will be the first topic,” said Lyudmila Konstantinovna. - Unfortunately, the population has a position that the state will come and put things in order in the entrance, and the mayor will plant a flowerbed. I want the youth to understand that everything is in our hands. Therefore, financial literacy needs to become the norm in the educational process. She will teach people to be prosperous in this fast-paced world.

Marina Tolstel, an employee of the Laboratory for Financial Literacy of the Faculty of Economics of Moscow State University, an expert at the Federal Network Methodological Center for the advanced training of university teachers and the development of programs for improving financial literacy of students, confirmed that students of non-economic specialties are interested in gaining this knowledge.

- We are represented in 30 regions of the country. In addition to teaching teachers how to integrate financial literacy courses into educational programs, we also travel to the regions and communicate with students. “They recognize the need for this knowledge and even share it with parents, friends, peers,” she added.

In addition to solving the urgent problems of the population, the Zhilfin project is designed to join efforts to promote legislative initiatives. For example, for those who took the Far Eastern hectare, the mortgage problem remains an acute one. According to official figures, about 54% of hectares plan to build on land at home. At the same time, mortgages for them are practically unavailable, because banks are not interested in issuing loans for the construction of housing on land transferred for temporary use. Only local lawmakers can solve this problem. The participants in the discussion agreed that the most effective way to work with the legislative branch is to interact through the third sector — public councils and organizations that are able to bring problems to the regulator and discuss ways to solve them.

In the framework of the Zhilfin project in the Far East, in-person educational events will be held for the population and potential consultants, officials, information materials will be distributed. As a result of the work, a seminar will be held in one of the cities of the Far Eastern Federal District.
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