Pm To Cut Short Railways Minister's Vacation

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov intends to cut short Railways Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko's holiday so that the latter can attend the Cabinet meeting on November 29, whose agenda will feature the Railways Ministry investment program. Initially, the acting Railways Minister was meant to unveil the program, but RIA Novosti quoted the premier as saying the Minister's own attendance would be "logical and reasonable" given the nature of the issue involved. Kasyanov pointed out that other ministers had better turn up as well. Kasyanov characterized Aksyonenko as "a good minister", but he said the industry Aksyonenko is running faces a lot of problems that need to be resolved within the next six months. These are, essentially, the adoption of the Railways Ministry investment program, a review of reform progress in the industry, and fine tuning the ministry's policies in line with the reform. Kasyanov said that many points raised in connection with the Ministry are due to taxation problems that emerged after a flat rate was introduced on domestic and foreign transportation. The Ministry lost some 20 billion rubles in the move. Next February will see a more advanced version of flat rates, which is bound to result in "the shortfall of an even bigger sum", Kasyanov said. Feasible options for recovering the losses are cost cutting measures or tracing new sources of funding, "something the Railways Ministry is good at," Kasyanov remarked. "If Aksyonenko succeeds in doing all that, in six months we'll be able to say he's a very good minister," he continued. The Prosecutor General's Offices recently charged Aksyonenko with abuse of office. The Minister promptly took a vacation after the charges were pressed.

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