Finance Ministry Projects Budget Surplus at 0.6 Percent Of GDP in 2004

The Finance Ministry forecasts the 2004 budget surplus at about 0.6 percent of the gross domestic product, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

According to him, "a budget surplus in 2005 is expected to reach about 0.9 percent of GDP".

The Finance Ministry predicts that one barrel of Urals blend of crude oil in 2004 will cost 22 dollars and in 2005, 22.5 dollars.

Kudrin also said that the ministry had drawn up rough details of a financial plan for 2003-2005.

The plan will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on April 29th. He indicated that "the plan embraces budgets for 2003-2005 and will underlie all tax and budget projections for the years to come." According to Kudrin, the current State Duma is to approve a draft budget for 2004. "The way the 2004 budget is endorsed will determine all subsequent budgets," the vice-premier said. He emphasised that submission of the three-year outline financial plan for government consideration "opens the budget process of 2004".

The vice-premier thinks that budget spending need not be boosted at present. "What we need is to form a reserve for reducing the tax burden." That, he stressed, will buck the trend of budget generation.

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