Russia to lower limit on probing privatization deals from 10 years to three

The Russian Cabinet on Thursday approved a bill reducing the statue of limitations on investigating privatization deals to three years from 10 years.

"Ten years is too long and cannot be justified," said Justice Minister Yury Chaika, who presented amendments at the government's weekly Cabinet meeting.

The bill comes amid a Kremlin campaign to boost business confidence and reassure skittish investors that the rules for privatization of state property and tax collection will not constantly be shifting.

During his state of the nation speech last month, President Vladimir Putin reeled off a long list of promises aimed at businesses, including reducing the limit on revising the results of privatization deals.

A document posted on the presidential Web site Wednesday set out deadlines for the legislation for some of the goals mentioned in his address to be met. They include a tax amnesty on repatriated funds, streamlining tax legislation to halt a spate of spiraling back tax probes that are spooking businesses, and clearer rules on which sectors of the economy are open to foreign investment.

"This to-do list amounts to a demanding program which, if carried out, would make 2005 a productive year for structural reform, investment climate improvement and overall growth prospects," the United Financial Group wrote in a note to investors.

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