Duma deputy comments on 2003 draft budget

Although the bill on the federal budget for 2003 has calmly passed theso-called "zero reading", it will not have an easy life at the State Duma,Ivan Grachyov, member of the State Duma committee on property, declared. Hebelieves that deputies will be fighting for altering some basic figures "inorder to distribute spare money then".According to Grachyov, during the discussion of the main financialdocument, the parliament is usually unsatisfied with the strategic courseof the economy's development and distribution of funds to regions. "Budgetis the basis of the economic policy of the country and during itsdiscussion it is possible to influence this process. However, as a rule,the State Duma does not use this chance, and deputies only declare theirpositions", Grachyov pointed out.The budget for the next year has been elaborated on taking into accountpayments on Russia's foreign debts, and discussions on this issue at theState Duma should not be ruled out. He added that Russia should not hurrywith paying off $17bn in foreign debts, because "the state has obligationsto its citizens and these obligations should be the priority"..

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