Russia's tax burden to be eased in 2004

The tax burden on the national economy will be eased in 2004 through further tax cuts by 2 percentage points of GDP, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said opening the Thursday government session considering the 2004 draft budget.

"The government will continue to stick to the tax reducing policy," the premier emphasised.

In his words, such measures will positively influence Russia's economic development.

Preliminary analysis looks promising for the processing sectors, construction and services, Kasyanov said.

The reduction of the tax burden and inefficient government spending will make it possible to increase budget allocations for new areas, in particular, the hi-tech sector, industry, and the defence sector, the premier noted.

According to Kasyanov, space, processing and healthcare are also going to top the agenda.

These areas will be a priority among budget spending, Kasyanov said.

In his opinion, economic development will be encouraged by natural monopolies' limited tariffs. In particular, the draft budget provides a ceiling of 13% for electricity tariffs in 2004.

Monopolists' tariff interconnection has been established, now it is up to the government to consider the numerical background, the premier said.

Besides, Kasyanov attached importance to further reducing the state share in the economy. For instance, tax burden amounted to 38.5% in 2002, 36% - in 2003, and is projected to go down to 34% in 2004, the premier concluded.

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