Meeting in plenary session, the State Duma voted Friday for the draft state budget for 2004 on its first reading. As reported by Rosbalt, the vote was 246 in favor, 180 against, with one abstention.. The budget foresees income of approximately USD 91.428 billion and outlays of approximately USD 88.6 billion. A gross domestic product of USD 510 billion is forecast and an inflation rate of 8%-10%. The budget surplus of approximately USD 3 billion would be used to create a stabilization fund for the Russian Federation that could be used to make up for future shortfalls in budgeted income. The draft was supported by the Duma's centrist groups and the Liberal Democratic Party and opposed by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Union of Right Forces, Yabloko and the Agricultural-Industrial Group. The second reading of the draft budget for 2004 is scheduled for October 15.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to go to the 77th UN General Assembly in September