Ministry of Construction proposes to update regulation of funeral industry

Ministry of Construction proposes to update regulation of funeral industry

Already this fall, the Ministry of Construction intends to submit a draft law on funerals to the State Duma. He, in particular, proposes to bring de facto private funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoriums into the legal field, to deprive them of their licenses in case of repeated violations of the rules, and also to give the authorities the authority to monitor prices for burials and auction off places for family burials. All this is not in the current law, adopted back in 1996. The ministry’s proposals are almost identical to those previously developed by State Duma deputies, who postponed their bill due to the “politicization of the topic.” Market participants do not see the need to adopt a new document, since it does not close existing loopholes for “bypassing the cash register,” and the current law can be improved by amending it.

Kommersant has at its disposal the draft law “On funeral business in the Russian Federation” developed by the Ministry of Construction, which is intended to replace the law “On burial and funeral business in the Russian Federation”, which has been in force since 1996. After making comments from all interested departments, the ministry sent the document to the government of the Russian Federation. The government staff recommended contacting the Ministry of Construction, where Kommersant was only informed that the need for a new law had been long overdue.

The current law “is declarative in nature” and does not take into account, for example, the work of private funeral homes that appeared on the market after its adoption, market participants explain. In the explanatory note to the draft law, the Ministry of Construction reports that according to the current law, only services created by municipal authorities can handle funerals, “contrary to established practice, when the provision of such services has become an independent type of business.”

Experts previously estimated the real volume of the Russian funeral market at 360 billion rubles. in year. At the same time, according to Rosstat, in 2022 the turnover of this market throughout Russia amounted to only 90 billion rubles.

The Ministry of Construction proposes that the authorities issue permits to legal entities and individual entrepreneurs to provide burial services and revoke them in case of systematic violation of the rules within three years.

One of such violations may be a refusal to accept orders through specialized points or dispatch centers, the provision of which is also reflected in the draft law of the Ministry of Construction.

In addition, the document proposes to empower the authorities not only to introduce a register of specialized services, but also to monitor the cost of their services, introduce a register of cemeteries and crematoria and formulate requirements for their creation and operation. Another new point in the Ministry of Construction document is the opportunity for citizens to purchase plots in cemeteries at auction for family burials.

The current law does not in any way solve the problem of abandoned graves of the deceased who did not have close relatives. The ministry's draft proposes in this case that the care of such burials be entrusted to the employers of the deceased or religious organizations in which they may have belonged.

The Ministry of Construction’s version almost completely duplicates the document submitted to parliament by State Duma deputy Svetlana Razvorotneva in the spring of 2022.

It passed only "zero" readings (see “Kommersant” dated March 21, 2022). As Ms. Razvorotneva explained to Kommersant, the topic of changing regulation of the funeral industry “was politicized and the State Duma was afraid of risks.” In addition, last year, against the backdrop of foreign policy events, “it was not the time to deal with the bill,” she notes, adding that the Ministry of Construction’s draft will most likely be submitted to the State Duma for consideration, since it was prepared with the participation of various departments and parliament.

There is no need to adopt a new law; all innovations can be introduced by amendments to the current act, says Anton Avdeev, a member of the commission on professional qualifications in the field of funeral business of the National Council under the President of the Russian Federation. It is realistic to finalize the existing law in a short time, agrees funeral lawyer Elizaveta Potemkina.

Director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Politics Anton Orlov says that it is now a common practice that all additional work in a cemetery is carried out at “astronomical prices” by contractors; for refusing these services, the relatives of the deceased cannot bury him for formal reasons. The expert believes that fixed prices for services will help solve the problem. But the proposed project does not yet close all the loopholes “for making payments bypassing the cash register,” he adds. President of the Association of Crematoriums of Russia Alexey Suloev insists that, despite the shortcomings, the bill must be adopted in any case.

Daria Andrianova, Anastasia Tikhomirova

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