Russian parliament passes draft 2006 budget

Russia's lower house of parliament on Thursday gave preliminary approval to the draft 2006 budget, passing it on the first of four votes.

Revenues are expected to total a record 5.076 trillion rubles (US$177.87 billion; Ђ145.73 billion) and spending 4.27 trillion rubles (US$150 billion; Ђ123 billion).

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told the lawmakers that when working on the budget, "the government proceeded from strategic priorities of state policy, that is improving the quality of life of the population, getting rid of poverty, supporting high economic growth, improving the quality of economic growth and curbing inflation."

The lower chamber approved the draft by a vote of 337-92, with two abstentions. The budget could undergo significant amendment before the fourth and final reading, reports the AP.

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