In 2003 Russia to pay 17.2 billion dollars as foreign debt

In 2003 Russia will pay 17.2 billion dollars plus interest as foreign debt, Russian Vice-Premier and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told a briefing on Thursday.

Abiding by its commitments on the external debt, the cabinet will not fail to fulfil its obligations in the social sphere in full measure, Kudrin stressed.

He said that in order to service its external debt next year the government is going to put to use the budget surplus, the expected 51 billion roubles of profit from privatisation, sale of precious stones and metals, as well as the internal debt and the financial reserve.

Simultaneously, the vice-premier noted that, despite the substantial lowering of the external debt, which now stands at least at 50 percent of the gross domestic product, debt servicing costs Russia more than those European countries whose debt is exceeding 50 percent of their gross domestic product.

He said that foreign borrowings will cost Russia two to 2.5 times more than European countries. The reason is the low trust in the world to the Russian economy. It puts limits on the cabinet's opportunities for borrowing on the external market, added Alexei Kudrin.

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