Government Promises To Finance Social Items Of 2002 Budget By All Means

The government will see to that all social expenditures stipulated in the 2002 budget are covered, announced Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin after a session of the Coordinating Council of four centrist associations of the State Duma, or the lower house of the Russian parliament. According to Kudrin, budget items dealing with salary payments for workers of the budget sphere, money allowances for servicemen and health care expenses "will be financed by all means." The government and the State Duma will do everything possible to protect the country's economy and budget from being affected by the deteriorating state of the world economy, stressed the finance minister. In case world oil prices are set between $18.5 and $16.5 per barrel, the Russian government will manage to maintain a deficit-free budget and cover all social expenditures. Should oil prices drop to $14.5 or lower, the government will probably get a loan from the International Monetary Fund to keep the budget deficit-free, said Kudrin.

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