Russian Premier on government's regional policy priorities

Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has called the balanced nature of budgets at all levels a priority in the Russian government's regional policy.

While speaking on Wednesday at a conference in Kaluga, the centre of the Kaluga region, south-west of Moscow, the premier said that the macroeconomic stability, which was the main task facing the country earlier, had already been achieved. According to government forecasts, in 2002 GDP growth will be 3.6-3.7 per cent, with inflation down to 14 per cent, and surplus 1.6 per cent.

The premier also drew attention to the size of gold and hard currency reserves, which reached $43 billion.

Besides, Kasyanov noted, "we have achieved a growth in population incomes, which have increased since 1998 by 20 per cent." An 11 per cent drop was registered in Russia over the past year in the number of unemployed.

In that way, the prime minister emphasised, "our task at present is to balance consolidated budgets and to secure the equilibrium and stability of regional and local budgets".

Kasyanov also spoke of the need to scrap laws and acts not backed financially.

Among major problems the premier sees increasing labour productivity and competitiveness, further modernisation of production in Russia, dismantling administrative barriers and creating a level playing field for economic activity.

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