Increase in number of Internet-users a priority of government's special program

All Russian higher schools are scheduled to be connected to the World Wide Web by 2006 and business information technology departments will be opened in the 20 largest of them, head of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade German Gref has said.

He spoke this Friday at an enlarged session of the Ministry's board convened to discuss the results of the implementation and the basic directions of the federal targeted program "Electronic Russia" for a medium-term perspective.

According to the minister, all federal and regional authorities will have created their web-sites by 2006. "We hope that by this time the law on information openness, which is currently under discussion in the government and will be submitted to the State Duma in autumn, will have been adopted."

The increase in the number of www-users is "a priority of the program endorsed by the government in 2002 and intended until 2010," the head of the ministry said.

Gref added that a single system of electronic state purchases and the system of specific business licensing via the Internet would be established. Plans are also afoot to make automatic the procedure of issuing tax returns and the system of target subsidy allocation to individuals within the framework of the housing and utilities reform.

Also, electronic passport insertion will be created. Subsequently, electronic cards will replace passports, Gref believes.

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