Putin calls for speedy work on tax reform package

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the government Monday to swiftly prepare a legal reform package to streamline tax collection, days after making assurances to big business leaders rattled by the back tax attack on the Yukos oil company.

"Everything we spoke about at this meeting must be implemented. I request that the government implement this in a short period," Putin said at a meeting with ministers, the Interfax news agency reported. "This concerns tax administration measures, those measures which the government proposes in order to perfect the work in this direction."

At a meeting Thursday with the group of so-called oligarchs who control a large chunk of the Russian economy, Putin said the government was working on proposals to overhaul the way authorities collect taxes and conceded that business leaders had "quite a few justified complaints" about the behavior of the fiscal authorities.

Since the politically charged "Yukos affair," which saw the nation's biggest oil company carved up after being slapped with US$28 billion in tax claims dating from 2000, fiscal authorities have gone after other companies in what some domestic and foreign businesses contend has steamrolled into uncontrolled extortion.

The government has repeatedly defended the Yukos case as a deserved drive against shady bookkeeping.

Associated Press

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