Russian Finance Minister agrees with 2003 budget parameters

Russia's federal budget for 2003 is for the first time drafted with reduced revenues. The government did this on purpose in full realisation of the need to ease the tax burden. Russia's Vice Premier and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said this Friday at a round table in the Higher Economics School, devoted to the budget problems.

Kudrin recalled that 2003 would be the peak year of Russia's debt payments. This, in his words, requires a series of measures, in particular, an increase in privatisation revenues up to 51 bln roubles, a growing surplus in state reserves' sales up to 20 bln roubles.

Among the most difficult tasks, Kudrin named formation of a 197-bln rouble financial reserve by the end of this year. The reserve was planned to be accumulated during a year with the help of all sources, including foreign market loans, of fulfilling the privatisation revenue plans, including sales of the LUKoil giant shares. "If we do not accomplish this task by the end of this year, these measures will be taken till the end of next year in order to balance all revenues, expenditures and payments," noted Kudrin. In his words, this will provide the government with the opportunity of using this reserve in case some revenue-related task is not fulfilled.

The vice-premier expressed the hope that if the State Duma adopts the budget parameters forwarded by the government with the important minimal reserve (the first reading of the draft budget is scheduled for September 25th), this will allow the government to fulfil all the projected tasks in 2003, including the financing of defence, law-enforcers, court system, and increase wages of state employees, etc.

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