Draft Budget for 2003 Presented to State Duma

Late on the past Saturday, the government of the Russian Federation presented draft budget for the year 2003 to the State Duma. According to the government's Department of Information, the parliament should consider the document in its first reading by September 25.

Alexei Kudrin the Minister of Finance of Russia, said on Sunday that the principal points of the budget had been adjusted before the document was passed to the Duma. For instance, the income part of it was increased by nearly USD 552 million to a total of to USD 77.99 billion. The positive balance of the budget is expected to reach USD 2.327 billion.

The Minister of Finance also said that over the next year inflation was expected to decrease consistently and on the whole stay at or below 10% to 12%. The average rating of ruble should remain at RUR 33.7 for USD 1. The price of oil of the Urals grade was taken as equal to USD 21.5 per 1 barrel, which is lower than the projected price for the year 2002 was. 'This means', Mr. Kudrin said, 'that we will be less dependent on the price of oil'.

Also presented to the State Duma were the forecasts as to the social and economic development of Russia and that for the increase of gas, electricity, and heat tariffs overthe year 2003 and the draft programmes of the privatization of government-owned and municipal entities, domestic and foreign borrowing, federal purposive investments, etc.

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