Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov did not rule out that Russia might turn toa surplus-free budget over the next several years. He mentioned thispossibility today, at the opening of a Cabinet meeting devoted to the 2003budget draft. According to Kasyanov, a budget surplus is not a goal but anecessity in a certain economic development period."A surplus means that a country is taking more from its economy thannecessary, and a question arises on how efficiently we redistribute thesefunds," Kasyanov was quoted as saying. He added, "We need a budget surplusonly for debt payments." Next year will be a period of top debt paymentsfor Russia and it needs a surplus to fulfill its obligations, the PrimeMinister said. At the same time, he stated, "Do we need a surplus, or is ittime to lower the tax burden instead?" Kasyanov mentioned that a reductionin the tax burden would allow the private sector to finance expendituresthat the state was unable to finance efficiently by redistributing budgetrevenues.Kasyanov reported that the level of non-interest expenditures (budgetexpenditures except for debt payments) remained high and made up 13 percentof the GDP. "This is a limit that we cannot surpass," he stressed and notedthat, on the other hand, the state could not give up its obligations..
Russia has left the list of 33 largest holders of US government bonds, after the country disposed of at least a third of remaining bonds