Economic Development And Railroad Ministries Disagree On Railways Development Program

Commenting on today's discussion on the investment program for the railway transport for 2002, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Sharonov said that the viewpoints of not only the two ministries but also other members of the Cabinet are different. The investment program should be in accordance "with the general line of structural reforms, including the aspect of founding real sources of financing," the deputy minister pointed out. The Economic Development and Trade Ministry considers it expedient to form a separate section of the program for large projects of national importance. Moreover, there is the following dilemma here: "whether to finance them from the tariffs or to attract funds from markets." According to Sharonov, Communication Minister Leonid Reiman expressed the view that the large funds for modernization of the communication systems of the Railroad Ministry should not be taken from the revenues from tariffs, since these systems can be purchased on the telecommunication services market. The deputy minister added that social expenditures should form a separate entry. Additionally, sources of financing of large projects, such as the construction of a bridge to Sakhalin, the St. Petersburg transport hub, the trans-Korean railroad, should be selected through tenders. In this connection the Railroad Ministry suggested allocating 123 billion rubles (about $4.1 billion) from its own funds (first of all, at the expense of amortization funds and tariff revenues). For its part, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry believes that the Railroad Ministry's own funds should amount to 90-118 billion rubles (about $3.9 billion), and the amount of borrowed funds should reach much more than 38 billion rubles (about $1.3 billion), as the Railroad Ministry suggests. "There must be not only the economic logic here, but also technological, infrastructural and social (logic)," the deputy minister pointed out.

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