Finance Minister says parliament may approve 2003 budget more rapidly this year

Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin believesthat this year the Russian parliament stands a chance to approve the 2003federal budget more rapidly. The Deputy Prime Minister said so today at thescientific and practical conference 'On the Forecast of Russian Social andEconomic Development Until 2005 and the Parameters of the Federal BudgetDraft for 2003'. According to Kudrin, the major goal of the 2003 federalbudget is securing stable social and economic development in the country.The crucial budget figure is real consumer income growth (forecasted at 6percent as compared to 1997). The Finance Minister pointed out that theoutflow of investments into fixed capital had diminished over the past fewyears. The estimated average annual inflation rate will be 10-12 percent,while the ruble exchange rate against the dollar - RUR33.7. The price forUrals oil is projected at $21.5 per barrel..