Russian 2003 Financial Reserve to Be Used for Paying Debts

In 2003 Russia's financial reserve will be used to pay out its debts, said Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin at a meeting with the Media-Soyuz leaders and regional press.

At present the reserve totals 209 billion roubles, he said. The sum stated in the budget plan at the end of last year was 197 billion roubles.

The sum does not include the funds acquired after selling state-owned shares of Slavneft and LUKOIL, Kudrin explained.

In February 2003, the budget will receive 57.7 billion roubles from Slavneft's sale. The 20.2 billion roubles from LUKOIL's sale will also be received in near future. Thus, the plan of financial reserve will be fulfilled even without taking into account the means from selling these two companies, he pointed out.

Last year's budget surplus equaled 1.4 per cent of the GDP, which is somewhat higher that had been expected, Kudrin reported.

The government intends to achieve a surplus this year as well, the minister announced.

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