Duma panel gives nod, nudge to 2004 budget

The State Duma Committee on Lending Organizations and Financial Markets yesterday approved the draft federal budget for 2004 offered by the government. As learned by Rosbalt, the decision to back a vote for the draft budget on first reading was made by the committee Thursday.

The government's forecast for 2004-2006, the committee stated, is notable for optimism about the dynamics and character of the Russian economy for the midterm future. Taking this into account, the deputies recommended that, in calculating budgeted income for 2004, an average barrel price for oil of USD 24 be used rather than the USD 22 used in the draft. In the view of the committee, budgeted income for 2004 should be increased by at least USD 2.3 billion. Furthermore, income more than that budgeted can be expected as a result of higher inflation, the committee said.

The major overall budget parameters for 2004: income--USD 914 billion (17.9% of gross national product), outlays--USD 886.3 billion (17.4% of gross national product), surplus--USD 2.78 billion (0.5% of gross national product). A gross national product for the year of USD 510 billion is forecast.

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