Russia's budget for 2003 balanced, with surplus and no deficit

The state budget for 2003 "is balanced, maintains positive trends in the economy, and features surplus and no deficit", Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told journalists after a cabinet meeting, which examined a draft budget for next year.

According to him, budget surplus for 2003 is set at 99 billion roubles.

The vice-premier added that the budget for next year is based on a world oil price of 21.5 dollar per barrel, or two points less than in the budget of the current year.

Social spending, he noted, remains paramount: education, health and culture will be financed as required, while funding for social politics "will actually grow because of increased pensions for the military".

Besides, the vice-premier indicated, more will be spent on law enforcement and Defence Ministry needs.

The government increased support for the regions. According to Kudrin, this will take the form of passing to them 4 per cent of the profit tax, the land tax, and its indexing.

Describing the country's draft main financial document for the next year, the vice-premier pointed out that economic indices, such as lower inflation, steady exchange rate of the rouble, economic growth and lower taxes, remain stable.

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